Group winging – flow in the team
One of the twelve steps to building a turquoise team is to create an environment in which each team member can grow. It is an environment of responsibility, transparency, involvement and creativity.
Below I reveal one of these twelve steps, all of which are described in my book “From Hierarchy to Turquoise, or How to Manage in the 21st Century”.
People who work in ECO-teams, in turquoise organizations or in liberated companies often work in a state of flow, also known as flow or winging. The phenomenon of individual winging has been well researched and described by Professor Mihály Cshikszentmihályi.
The phenomenon of individual flow has been described many times and I will not explain it here in great detail. Below, however, I will describe the phenomenon of Group Winging, which has been studied relatively recently by Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, and this phenomenon is used in ECO-bands and turquoise organizations. Companies such as google and Zappos also consciously shape the conditions for creating the Winged Effect in their bands, but it also performs among bands of jazz musicians or in improvised theater groups.
In order for the group winging phenomenon to occur, first care should be taken that #flow – phenomenon occurs first among individual team members.
Csikszentmihalyi, conducting extensive research into the work of mountaineers, dancers, artists and scientists, found that people are more likely to enter the winged state when their environment meets four important characteristics:
1. First and foremost, people can flow if they do the tasks that best suit their qualifications. If the challenge is too great for their skills, they become frustrated; if the task isn’t hard enough they get bored.
2. Second, the flow occurs when the target is clearly defined.
3. Third, winging can occur when there is continuous and immediate feedback of how far you are from reaching your goal.
4. And fourth, flow comes when you have the opportunity to focus on the task at hand.
Based on this research, Keith Sawyer found 10 factors he identified for the occurrence of syndromes. Below I will present in more detail those that are worth taking care of when building an ECO-team and a team in turquoise organizations:
1. Team goal
Group winging can occur if a team or group has a vision, mission, common goal that all its members strive for.
2. Deep listening
A group winging state can occur when each team member is fully engaged, focused and focused on what the other person is genuinely saying, what he thinks and feels. Improvised theaters, jazz bands and ECO-bands call this phenomenon “deep listening”. Unfortunately, quite often in traditionally managed companies, people talking, unfortunately instead of genuinely listening and trying to feel for what the other person says, most often they put in their mind what they will say in a moment. This blocks the possibility of effective communication, understanding each other, and effective collaboration. The “deep listening” exercises can also be done through contemplative exercises, mindfulness meditation or concentration practice.
3. Keep the story moving forward – a condition that is especially important in creative tasks or improvising
After “listening deeply”, the most important rule in improvising and creative teams is to accept what the predecessor, another man in the band said, and continue its thread, often with the words: “Yes, and …”. This approach opens up a field for completely new conclusions, ideas and solutions.
4. Total and broad concentration
The winging effect is also common in teams that play professional basketball – for example, in NBA teams. There, a high concentration is required, the so-called broad. Instead of focusing on just one aspect, such as when concentrating on the breath while meditating, the player must focus on “broad concentration”: on the ball, how he moves, on teammates, on strategy, on team play, on opponents. People after the “wide concentration” experience recall that they felt “as if time suddenly stopped for them”, “minutes turned into hours” and that “they saw the ball move as if in slow motion”. A similar phenomenon is experienced by car accident survivors, artists or members of ECO-teams during creative workshops. Such experiences integrate the team members very much.
People become winged when they control their actions and their surroundings. In the same way, team winging increases when people feel independent, competent and share their common values. Many studies confirm that when a team knows that their manager trusts them, accepts their decisions and supports what they decide, the team works more effectively.
In team winging, unlike individual winging, autonomy leads to a paradox: each participant has autonomy in his own right, but on the other hand is flexible, listens carefully and is always ready to postpone his or her task in favor of a team task. The most innovative teams are the ones that can deal with this paradox.
6. Taming the EGO
The members of ECO-bands, like jazz musicians, know that they have to control their ego. Virtually any experienced jazz musician can tell the story of a technically gifted young instrumentalist who was, after all, a terrible jazz musician. He lacks the ability to dip his ego into a group mind.
Group flow is the magical moment where everything comes together, where the group syncs and the team members seem to be thinking with one voice. In Group Flow, each person’s idea is based on ideas that have been brought in by partners. Small ideas grow together and innovation is born.
7. Equal and fair share
Group winging is more likely when all participants play an equal, fair role in the collective creation of the final product or service. Group Flow is blocked if anyone has skills below the rest of the group; all members must have comparable skill levels. That’s why professional athletes don’t like to play with amateurs: the group flow there can’t happen because the pros will get bored and the amateurs will get frustrated. It is also blocked when one person is dominant, arrogant, or thinks they may not learn anything from this collaboration.
8. Integration – common language, tacit knowledge
By studying many different teams, psychologists have found that when we get to know our teammates better, when we integrate, we are more productive and make more effective decisions. When team members spend some time together, they share a common language and a common set of unspoken agreements – what psychologists call “tacit knowledge.” As it is unspoken, team members often don’t even realize why they can get along so effectively.
In improvised theater groups, group flow only takes place when the players have mastered “tacit knowledge”. The actors of impro groups will learn a set of guiding principles that help them function, principles such as “Trust”, “Do not negate, do not deny” and “Listen, observe, be concentrated” accelerate integration and cooperation.
It is similar with ECO-teams. I remember during one of the training sessions and a pleasant evening by the fire, still as Managing Director at igus Polska, one of my colleagues was telling a joke in which the punch line was “Everyone is someone”. During the training, we reformulated this slogan in such a way that every team member appreciated, both with its advantages and disadvantages. For many years after this training and after this integration, the slogan “everyone is someone” accompanied the whole team appreciating the diversity that we had in the team and often causing volleys of sincere laughter and joy.
9. Constant communication
Indeed, Team Winging requires constant communication. Nobody likes going to useless meetings. For this reason, Group Flow does not usually take place in conference rooms. Instead, team communication occurs freely, through spontaneous conversations in the halls or social gatherings after work or at lunchtime.
10. The potential for failure
Jazz bands rarely experience a winging during rehearsals. Group Flow seems to require audience and the risk of a real, significant failure. Jazz musicians and improvisational theater groups never know how successfully they will end their performance. Research regularly shows that the main source of innovation is the possibility of failure. There is no creativity without the risk of failure, and there is no Group Winging without the risk of failure. These two research results go hand in hand, because Group Flow is a process that is most often the source of the most important innovations in business, art, and any team activity.
I hope that the above explanation of how the team impacts building an environment where everyone can naturally grow will help you create such an environment in your company and in your team: an environment of creativity, commitment, winging, transparency and responsibility. You can read more about the group winging phenomenon in R. Keith Sawyer’s book “Group Genius. The Creative Power of Collaboration” – which I drew from to write this article and to create the 12 points to help you transform your team into an ECO-team detailed in my first book entitled . “From hierarchy to turquoise, or how to manage in the 21st century”.
Good luck and I keep my fingers crossed for your success.