Monday, May 7, 2012

What the Avengers Taught Me About Organizational Learning

Last night I went to see The Avengers. I know I am about to express a minority, and possibly Anti-American opinion… but I thought the movie was really long and kinda boring. My son tells me I feel this way because I am a girl. Perhaps so but, as I was enduring the movie, I did realized that The Avengers actually had some valuable lessons for an important aspect of organizational behavior- team development.

  1. 1) Individual contributors can be brought together as an effective team when they coalesce around a common enemy, like for instance, a super villain named Loki. So, if you are having trouble getting folks to act as a team in a service learning environment, you might want to consider who the common enemies are.

  2. 2) People with very different personalities and agendas can become an effective team if they have a higher goal that is meaningful to all of them. Spoiler alert but the common goal for The Avengers was saving the earth and all of humanity. Pretty good goal I think.

  3. 3) An extremely important success strategy is to build a team that is composed of people who can appreciate and leverage their complementary skills and differences. In other words, people need to know what their super powers are and how to leverage them. Can you imagine if everybody on your team had an anger management problem and became The Hulk when provoked? Nope, that would not work. But instead if you have one raging Hulk figure, one techno nerd guy with a flying iron suit and tons of money, one guy who wields thunder and understands the enemy culture, one guy who rocks the tights and is steadfastly loyal, and one woman who is strong, beautiful, and can psyche out the enemy then you have a powerful team (I would have liked to see more female super heroes but that is another blog, another time).

The greatest lesson learned from The Avengers is that even a super hero can be more effective at saving the earth when they work as a team. Is your team working for the greatest good these days? Seems like it is a lot more fun when they do.

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