I often start my leadership lectures and keynotes with this question:
“Have you ever been part of a great team?”
Now I don’t typically place a definition on this straight away but for some reason, every person in the room understands what this means. It’s more of a deep feeling which resonates in our being rather than a clear definition that emerges. When we have been part of a great team, we know there was something special. When we reflect on those times, we have a powerful memory etched on our being which draws significant emotions within us. In the last eight years I worked out I have delivered over 250 sessions to thousands of people. Hand on heart, the number who confirm they’ve been part of a great team are small in numbers. I have been fortunate to have had a few experiences where I felt I was in a great team – The Wiggles for a few years; Sydney FC for a couple; EY for a couple and I remember my early days at Hackney Hospital in the East End of London; they weren’t always long-lasting but they were real and meaningful and provide me a constant standard to work towards.
In the 2016 HBR article “The Secrets of Great Teamwork”: Haas and Mortensen referred to Hackman’s work of the 70s and concluded in their studies that little had changed -great teams had “a compelling direction, a strong structure, and a supportive context. However, they found a further one: a shared mindset”.
Last night I settled into the evening and tuned into a documentary about the band The Who. I’ve been a big fan since teenage years – learning the chords for My Generation and Pinball Wizard and listening to albums in my bedroom; volume turned up more than my Mum cared for! As well as the incredible blend of excellent musical talent, there was nothing like their on-stage energy. As I watched the documentary, I got more inspired by the thoughts and reflections of Roger Daltry, Pete Townsend and the late John Entwistle. Their stories and commentary of their journey including memories of their incredible drummer Keith Moon. They had very different perspectives, very different personalities and brought unique skills to the band. Often conflicting views. Often tensions but little question that they constantly were on the search for growth, development and innovation. Their rock opera Tommy became a moment in time in contemporary music history. A point, which every member of the team realised they had brought the best version of themselves to create something unique and spectacular. They were in flow.
I started my professional journey working for one of the biggest employers in the World. The English NHS Over 1 million employees working to keep the Community fit and well often with little acknowledgement or recognition. Most were lower paid than their counterparts in the business World, despite their significant professional qualifications and often vocational commitment. In all honesty, I left the NHS as I struggled to support a family on such a low wage despite many years of study. I’ve always felt connected though, and many of my family are still frontline workers. Right now, of course, people in the NHS and other health care workers around the World are some of the most significant in our Society. They work in the needs area of life rather than wants and desires. Don’t we know now how much this matters.
Back to The Who. I was watching their story unfold and started to see the impact these four young men from London were having on youth culture. I then realised that one of my key shackles was removed during the documentary: no longer bothered that I’m only part of a small team and that I don’t have to be a big organisation to be significant. Like many small business owners, we often struggle with this – that question often grates – “how many people do you employ?” Not any more… let’s remember this: there were four members of The Who. Four in the Beatles. Five Spice Girls. One Branson. One Mandela. One Gandhi. One Bezos. One Musk. In other words: it’s not the size that matters – it’s what you do with it!
This Easter has been a significant period for other reasons, not just COVID. On Good Friday I entered my sixtieth year on the planet. OMG! I remember my wonderful late Dad telling me – “search for happiness son – life moves as fast as a blink of an eye.” He’s so right. Moments that seem like a couple of years ago are a decade ago. Memories that I thought were a decade ago are double that.
It’s now Easter which is always a special time for deep reflection and renewal. Typically, it’s birthday time for me as well as the obvious historical and spiritual associations too. I got thinking about my next decade and how will I make an effective contribution to Society. The Who grabbed my attention. Daltry and Townsend then add others: Sting, Bono, The Edge, Jagger, Branson, Merkel, Gates – all way ahead of me in years but energised to contribute too. I feel young and optimistic. This is not the time of big is necessarily beautiful. This is not the time of young v old. This is the time of “Never Too Old.” This is the time of human beings finding meaning together and creating the great team.
Over the last four weeks I am excited to say, I am indeed part of a great team – “a compelling direction; a strong structure; a supportive context and shared minds. We are four people with different backgrounds, different ages, different skills, different perspectives who come together and have found harmony and flow. That’s XVenture’s team during these difficult times. All working remotely the team has worked together and apart to build the most incredible solution I have ever worked on to help other teams to find energy and meaning during this period.
On Friday I got a message from one of my fellow team members – “I just can’t stop working on this -loving it.” This note filled me with joy.
I wouldn’t change this team of four for twenty or one hundred others right now and know that something unique is being created. This has all happened because this team understands the significant changes to our World, is committed to adapt; to change and wants to be part of something special.
In 4 weeks the team has created 150 new behavioural challenges; filmed 2 locations remotely and created 6 new 360 degree virtual reality worlds called mind games with 6 more ready in two weeks; built a global marketing program including PR, web and media release for roll out this week; put 2 tv series into a new tv channel; tested 5 conferencing platforms and chosen 1; built a payment gateway and piloted and quality assured new virtual worlds with two high profile brands; populated a CRM; segmented for 4 different markets; entered into discussions with key corporate partners and engaged potential affiliates in US and UK. Four people. Incredible. From next week, groups of people, wherever they may be around the World will once again be able to participate in XVenture’s unique challenges which builds collaborative and communication skills; flexibility; adaptability; stability and team cohesion all in a fast-moving fun environment. I am an optimist without question. We may not have created Tommy but we’re building something special, unique and relevant. I look forward to others joining us with the same passion and commitment.
Available to teams globally, head to www.xventure.com.au/mindgames to book your team in to participate in XVenture Mind Games - Staying Connected - the new benchmark in remote team learning – from social isolation to social interaction...