I’m always on the look out for examples of teams that perform well together to see what lessons I can pull out to help guide teams that I work on. Friday night at Austin City Limits, David Byrne and his band and dancers offered a nice example.
It was a great blend of uniformity (everyone wore white) and individuality (all the outfits were different and looked individually chosen for style and comfort).
There were set pieces of coordination such as the beginning of the song shown above, but much of the time the moves by the dancers seemed to be improv’d. This requires a lot of skill to do as they were on an unfamiliar stage, and obviously could just look uncoordinated if the performers weren’t very familiar with each other and could synchronize tightly or loosely as necessary. This is just like any project: you’ll have some things you can do by the book, others where you have to make it up. The important thing is to trust in your team-members’ skills and self-management abilities.
This video shows one of the more improv’d songs (sorry about the shaky camera):
While Byrne is clearly front and center both physically and conceptually, everyone had their moment to shine and were not made to feel slighted. A nice touch was that everyone came out at the end of the hour long set and did a theater-style bow, all stretched out holding hands at the edge of the stage soaking up the applause. Applause well-earned, as it was a great performance, and the audience (the “clients”) really responded.
And perhaps most important of all, everyone on stage was having a lot of fun. It’s maybe a bit hard to tell from these low-res videos, but there was lots of laughing a smiling, clearly they were enjoying themselves.