In his article, 'The New Science of Building Great Teams', published in the Harvard Business Review (April 2012), Alex "Sandy" Pentland writes:
"We equipped all the members of those teams with electronic badges that collected data on their individual communication behaviour - tone of voice, body language, whom they talked to and how much, and more. With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we've found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team's success. Not only that, but they are as significant as all the other factors - individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions - combined."
I came across this article only a couple of days ago and was delighted to find this powerful validation of a key learning experienced through "CorporateTheatre" workshops. "CorporateTheatre" experientially defines the 3 Pillars that enable and sustain 'natural' teams. ('Natural' teams are high-performance teams, simply because no real 'team' is comfortable being second, irrespective of the material rewards.)
The 3 Pillars that are essential to a 'natural' team are:
1. Integration as 'actors' because you cannot integrate 'characters'.
2. Clarity of the same task and alignment to the same collective success - Goal clarity, role clarity, and other-role clarity.
3. Trust in each other's clarity and alignment to the same project now.
The nature of these pillars, how they are experienced, created, strengthened, and sustained have been dealt with in several of my earlier posts. In this post, I would like to discuss how the 2nd pillar which is all about Communication, is experienced and defined through the workshop.
Body Language: The first insight that participants experience is the importance of body language, and how as has been established by several researchers, more than 80% of the power of communication lies in body language. We also realise that body language is not a manipulatable tool or technique. The only way to use body language effectively is the way of the actor - experience the content of your communication, be it passion, commitment, conviction, confusion, or urgency. Like any other instrument that needs to be taken out of its case, the body needs to be liberated from the 'personality prisons' that many people have built around themselves through 'professional' baggage acquired over years of self-programming. Once the body is liberated and tuned, it amplifies the impact of the words that we use, and the receiver EXPERIENCES rather than just hears or sees the content of the giver.
Role of the Giver and the Receiver: Another insight is that, the receiver is as much a 'communicator' as the giver. The giver's clarity, creativity, and commitment are important. The receiver's creativity and commitment to understanding are equally important. Without harnessing these on the part of the receiver, the best efforts of the giver may not yield the desired result. "CorporateTheatre" explores how to harness and empower these attitudinal attributes on the part of the giver as well as the receiver.
Non-Possessive Communication: A third, very significant insight is the importance of non-possessive communication. We can have a group of people with excellent clarity of content, creativity, language skills, communication gadgets, and the need to communicate with each other, ending up not communicating at all, if each one is possessive about their own idea. Possessive communication converts the smallest difference of opinion into conflict, leading to wastage of time and energy, and even intense negativity. Similarly, a group of brilliantly creative individuals in a 'team' may not be able to deliver innovative solutions, if each one is possessive about their own creativity. Interestingly, this ability to communicate without being possessive and with the willingness to choose the 'best' idea rather than 'my' idea, does not come from transforming or ennobling people or by making them 'drop their egos'. That would be an impractical challenge for a 1 or 2-day workshop. Instead, it is achieved by understanding and creating the environment where egos are not dropped, but aligned to a common goal and collective success.