Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon

3 Principles Successful Teams Have in Common

June 02, 2020 Collaboration and Productivity
Deb Miller
By Deb Miller

A great team can be a force multiplier to create extraordinary results, where arguably individual efforts might fall short. As we learn new ways of working together in the current challenging environment, here are three classic successful partnering principles to keep in mind: trust, shared vision and collaboration.

A Matter of Trust

As I write this, we witnessed the historic launch of Falcon 9 with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. These highly skilled partners, both former test pilots, are colleagues and long-time friends who know each other very well. They were at each other’s weddings and have commented that they can predict by body language what the other’s next action will be.

Fundamentally their partnership is based not only on job skill but also on the first principle of successful teaming: trust.

Trust, forged through experience, not only binds this astronaut team but is also reflected in the underlying public-private partnership that brought them to a successful launch. NASA is now positioned to rely on SpaceX and other commercial partners. Many who doubted that this kind of partnership could be successful now trust that working together is a solid path to send astronauts back to the moon and indeed on to Mars in the future.

Commenting on the launch, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said, "I think this is something that's particularly important in the United States but appeals to everyone throughout the world who has within them the spirit of exploration. This is something that I think humanity should be excited about proud of occurring on this day." 

Related Article: The Best Collaboration Tool for Your Team? Trust

Taking Care of Business

While trust is essential, the success of the recent SpaceX-NASA launch highlights another element in strong team performance. Here we have the second principle for successful partnering: shared vision.

Many successful tech company co-founders over the years have illustrated this second principle.  While some other co-founders may be more famous — childhood friends Gates and Allen or “the two Steves” Jobs and Wozniak — my favorites are Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

Bill and Dave were the co-founders of HP, the first “garage tech” company that defined Silicon Valley. They met as classmates in Stanford University’s engineering program. They were best friends with similar strengths and managements styles. These partners forged a larger successful team based on the strength of their shared vision which in turn embodied a shared work ethic and set of values. Though focused on business success, they cared not just about what they achieved but how they achieved it.

As a Business Insider profile of the two shared, “They created a social, supportive work environment that contradicted the times. It was their innovative work ethic that enabled HP, its employees, and their business partnership to thrive.”

Related Article: The Digital World Demands a New Vision of Leadership

What the World Needs Now Is Collaboration

We are living in extraordinary times, with social distancing being practiced across the globe and digital interactions replacing or augmenting in-person. Last month I happened across a highly creative commemorative video “What the World Needs Now – for Virtual Orchestra” from a university music student with her senior class.

This 1965 Bacharach-David song made me wonder about the writers, so I asked Google “is Burt Bacharach still alive?” The answer was “no, Hal David died at age 91.” Wow, not what I asked (but then again Google must be very tired dealing with the soaring question volume from the pandemic.) Yet, it occurred to me how strong that partnership must have been for Google to instantly make the Bacharach-David connection.

This amazing song writing team — Burt composed the music (and is still very much alive as I write this), Hal wrote the lyrics — produced more than their fair share of hits, including a string of 39 consecutive chart topping songs from “Walk on By” to Grammy Song of the Year, “That’s What Friends are For.”

Their partnering legacy defines our third principle for successful teams: collaboration. 

In Hal David’s own words on how they worked: “There were three ways Burt and I wrote together. He’d have melody ideas; I’d have lyric ideas. We’d show each other what we had, pick out what we both liked and work on it together.” – Behind the Song

The 2020 virtual orchestra rendition of “What the World Needs Now” serves the Bacharach-David legacy well, with an online collaboration that we could all use a little more of these days.

About the Author

Deb Miller has led marketing initiatives at global companies like GE, Software AG, Global 360, OpenText, and Appian. Her work focuses on industry strategies for enterprise information management and business process improvement.

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