Sunday, June 03, 2007

Multiple Moments of Swing

"On the one hand, it means small groups can make very bad decisions, because influence is more direct and immediate and small-group judgments tend to be more volatile and extreme. On the other hand, it also means that small groups have the opportunity to be more than just the sum of their parts. A successful face to face group is more than just collectively intelligent. It makes everyone work harder, think smarter and reach better conclusions than they would have on their own. In his 1985 book about Olympic rowing, _The Amateurs_, David Halberstam writes: 'When mot oarsmen talked about their perfect moments in a boat, they referred not so much to winning a race but to the feel of the boat, all eight oars in the water together, the synchronization almost perfect. In moments like that, the boat seemed to life right out of the water. Oarsmen called that the moment of swing.' When a boat has swing, its motion seems almost effortless. Although there are eight oarsmen in the boat, it's as if there's only one person - with perfect timing and perfect strength - rowing. So you might say that a small group which works well has intellectual swing." - James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds
Recruiting the right team leaders, cultural preparation, the task of raising support together, bonding the team - all of it is so that our teams land and serve with this idea of swing. I would take it a step further though - not just intellectual and not just limited to a single moment. Rather an experience of swing with multiple layers.

When was the last time you were part of a team with swing? And why was the team so effective?

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