foodforthesoul
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EGO IS THE ENEMY
team building in an ad agency
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George is the new creative director of an advertising agency. He is meeting his staff of four copywriters for the first time – Janice, Jeffrey, Liz, and Leo. As he enters the room, the four stop talking and stiffen up.
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GEORGE
Hey, what’s this, the Charlie company? Hello.
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FOUR COPYWRITERS
Hello, sir.
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GEORGE
Okay, relax. You are copywriters, not soldiers. You carry ideas, not guns. I am George but my last name isn’t Patton. I want you to follow after me. [the others follow him] Step 1. stoop forward. Okay, good. Step 2. let your arms hang loose. More loose, more loose. Step 3. shake your arms to let out the tension. Harder, harder. [he shakes Jeffrey’s arm] Janice, feel better?
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JANICE
Yes, sir.
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GEORGE
Janice, I bet your former boss was a tyrant.
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JANICE
A first class Hitler, sir. How’d you know, sir?
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GEORGE
The moment I came in, I knew it from your body language. Let’s change all that. From now on, I’m your buddy first, boss second. Frowning faces are banned in the creative room. Can we sit down? [everyone sits] The first thing I want you to learn is to answer back. I don’t have the final word on creativity. Question everything. I hate yes people. I love rebels. The essence of innovative creativity is being a rebel, a radical. Good new come from radicals. I have here all the ad copies you’ve done in the last six months. [flipping through the pages] I’d say your creative instincts, all four of you, are fantastic … but but but …
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JEFFREY
But their not good enough. Something is lacking.
GEORGE
So you know, Jeffrey. What’s lacking, anyone?
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LEO
We’re not so original?
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GEORGE
Nope. You don’t have to be original to make good copy. You can borrow ideas from the Chinese, for all I care. You can get old ideas and crunch them into a hurricane. So, what’s lacking guys?
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JANICE
You tell us, boss.
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GEORGE
The name’s George. Okay Janice. Are you ready? Your ideas are too raw.
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LIZ
Raw?
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GEORGE
Raw. Not refined. Needs further polishing. Good ideas normally evolve through time. Let me ask. You all have your cubicles, right? [they nod] You all have different products or brands assigned to you, right? [they nod]. That’s the problem. From now on, all products and brands are the responsibility of all, with the one assigned to it only a facilitator.
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JEFFREY.
I get it. You mean we’re presently a bunch of individualistic selfish assholes working solo.
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GEORGE
Bingo. You put it so well, Jeffrey. Your former boss trained you to be so. It’s not your fault. So from now on, no cubicles?
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JANICE
What? I take my lunch in the open? No way. I talk on the phone in front of all you guys? No way.
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GEORGE
I mean you keep your cubicles for your private needs, but you stay in the conference table to work. All creative activities is on a long table. It’s being contructed right now – a huge twelve-feet-diameter knights-of-the-round table. If the phone rings, you run to your cubicle.
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LEO
But we’re only four. That’s too big.
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GEORGE
No, five. Count me in.
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LIZ
Great. I like the idea. Wow, fantastic. Sir, I like you.
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GEORGE
You better. It’s gonna be a high-tech table with no intruding monitors. All monitors are beneath glass in front of you. Everyone can see everyone eyeball to eyeball.
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JEFFREY
You will be inducing war.
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GEORGE
It takes conficts to refine a raw idea. War is good for the creative department. War is a form of bonding. Am I talking sense?
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LIZ
Yes, yes, I can see your point. He’s right guys. We trample on each other’s ideas and refine them. That’s what he wants us to do.
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GEORGE
Liz, I like you.
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LIZ
You better. He wants us to unshackle our selfish asshole-ness and form a team. Guys, hey guys, he wants a team. Oh gosh, how I have been waiting for this. I was beginning to hate my cubicle.
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LEO
Lose our individuality? Become robots loyal to the team? Who takes credits for my idea?
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JANICE
You’re really an asshole, Leo. Can’t you see, you become more individual in a team. Besides, staying in your cubby hole the whole day makes you a robot.
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GEORGE
I am beginning to like you guys. Leo, in my garden, there are individuals but no individual ideas. All concepts, all ideas are communal. If there is anything I want to kill in my garden it is all your hardened egos. No egos here. Egos have destroyed hundreds of creative departments. It is your ego that seeks credit for yourself. If someone has a better idea, you are so jealous, you want to destroy it. Your ego says you are always better than the other guy. We begin a team with total humility. Accept criticism. Accept your idea to be crunched to a pulp by the team.
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JEFFREY
Right, I agree. Better than letting the client crunch my idea. Also, a crunched idea means improving it. You don’t have to throw away the crunched idea, just refine it.
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GEORGE
We will have a big lazy susan at the center of the table so we can pass things to each other.
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George begins to sing a tune. Liz follows, and slowly, the rest. Raymond the President barges in. They stop singing.
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RAYMOND
Hey what’s this, a creative group or a chorale group. Congratulations, George. I can see you have your team all revved up in just the first hour. Anyway, I came to give a short announcement. Our target this year is to win the advertising award. Is that possible? [instead of answering, the group continues to sing] Okay, okay. I was gonna give a pep talk, but I see you don’t need one. [he leaves]
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It took awhile to break egos and to shift from my-idea-your-idea to our-idea. All copies pass through the entire team, evolving from raw to refined, from crude to fantastic. Ideas kept on evolving until they sparkled. In spite of noisy ‘wars’, the protagonists ironically became better friends. They were cruel to ideas and egos, but were gentle to each other. Not one but all were credited for a fantastic copy, although the one assigned was proclaimed. But he or she never thought of it as ‘his’ or ‘her’ idea. It was their idea.
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When the ‘wars’ broke out, George would silently sneak away and watch basketball on TV in his room. They would call him in only for advice or to settle an impasse. True enough, they won the national advertising award. All five went up the stage to accept the trophy.
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the mark of leadership
is in staying behind the scene
and being the facilitator not the actor
the leader does not have to have creative ideas
only creative men with ideas
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true teamwork
does not destroy individualism
but in fact strengthens it
this is the principle of synergy
where one plus one equals a hundred
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in any human endeavor
ego is the enemy, humility the ally
the individual must die for the team
the team must die for the individual
all for one and one for all
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eastwind
eastwind@motherignaciahealingministry.com
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amdg
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