top of page

What I learned about organizational cohesiveness from listening to 3 minutes of orchestral practice

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Walking on the side roads of the Marais district in Paris, we hear these angelic voices and what sounded like the orchestra background of a cinematic movie. We had to check it out. In this nondescript all-sports court was the Gay Games orchestra. We thought they've been practicing for months, if not years, preparing for this once-every-four-year competition of the planet's best athletes. What we learned surprised us.

They have been practising for only three hours! Do see the video above to see them perform. Imagine how they will sound at the Casino de Paris tomorrow?! So I asked if they were all French and I was told "No, these talented artists and musicians come from different countries - our conductor is from New Zealand, we have musicians and choir from Spain, Germany, China, USA, Canada, and many other countries." Nice.

Now imagine an organization where you meet for the first time and in a couple of hours perform like a well-oiled machine. Do you think it would work? Let's break this down into three simple components:

Vetting for Organizational Fit

At the heart of every hiring practitioner's guidebook is the understanding that they hire for organizational cohesion hopefully shortening the time for team building and more time for productive deliverables. So be an active participant of the process in ensuring any employee's journey includes your vision of organizational fit (of course, highly qualified backgrounds and expertise are tablestakes).

I interviewed an executive at one of the top Canadian financial institutions on this very topic, and this is what she said..

Now of course the existing team need to have a vision that aligns with the existing corporate culture. Gallup talks about it here.

Developing Continuous, Current, and Collaborative Champions

Learning organizations know this. Professors instinctively know this. Human Resources professionals are trained on this. We want employees to not just be current in their craft but know concurrent and adjacent disciplines as well. At the core of it is a simple test you do with one of your employees. Do they know what other people in their or other department are doing? Or better yet, a very simple exercise is this: As a retail consumer, ask your service agent (for example, a barista at your favorite coffee shop) to provide recommendations on the nearest adjacent service (for example, where can you get fresh juices, if they don't sell it). Would they have a ready-made response or not? Do they know where to find the answer or just say "I don't know, sorry."

I interviewed another executive at a top Canadian bank and this is what she said about developing champions:

Make Mistakes, Realign, Repeat

Back at the orchestra, the conductor identified individual music sheets previously given, asked questions, and listened to suggestions from the musicians and choir. A bit of discussion then the group said they would try it and stopped halfway to identify updates, modifications, changes, then they would go back and try again. This prototyping process was done resulting, like magic, to everyone getting it (lots of nodding). Organizational teams may need to do this a couple more times before the whole cycle is completed but the iterative process is a useful takeaway from this experience.

In an interview with Nathalie Dore, she indicated how iteration is a good process for learning to be better at one's craft.

For now, that's it. Three things to remember for organizational cohesion. Now fill in that "orchestra" of yours and create a happy and kind team.



bottom of page