18 Jun Coordination
The other night my daughter had an orchestra concert. Not only did her intermediate school perform, but the junior high, and the high school orchestras did as well. At the very end, all the orchestras played a piece together. It was very interesting to watch five conductors try to coordinate six different orchestras.
The experience revealed to me how important coordination is to an organization. Mirriam Webster defines coordination as “the process of organizing people or groups so that they work together properly and well” (www.mirriam-webster.com). When the orchestras were well-coordinated, the sound was pleasant. Whenever the coordination broke down, it was painful to the ears!
Here are a few key insights:
- Coordination requires a leader. There were five conductors, but they were all following one conductor. Had each conductor been doing their own thing it would have been dreadful! I imagine the lead conductor was designated beforehand because he was the tallest and was centrally located. In an organization, there can be many strong leaders, but one must be tasked with coordinating their efforts.
- Coordination requires communication. The forms of communication may vary, but coordination can’t happen without it. I saw the lead conductor snap his fingers and make big sweeping motions with his arms to communicate the tempo, starts, and stops. If he had not been communicating this effectively, it would’ve been utter chaos. The other conductors also needed to communicate clearly to their orchestras. I witnessed various methods; for example, the conductor nearest me started to count out loud – in a forceful whisper – to her orchestra. When coordinating others, the leaders must choose a communication method that effectively reaches the others involved.
- Coordination requires focus. When there is distraction, coordination can break down. The conductors who were following the lead conductor stayed on tempo – when they were focused. Sometimes they heard mistakes in their own orchestras, and looked away to try to fix the mistakes. This caused them to lose track of the tempo and get off beat, resulting in a lack of coordination. In the corporate world, problems and mistakes do require attention, but leaders can’t let those distractions get their entire team off course.
What does the coordination “sound like” in your organization? For a successful performance, appoint solid leaders, communicate effectively, and keep your team focused. Then your team will make music everyone enjoys!