administration the orchestra world

team building

J Richard Hackman

Today’s New York Times published an obituary for J. Richard Hackman, an expert in team dynamics. In his 2011 article Six Common Misperceptions About Teamwork for the Harvard Business Journal, Hackman wrote:

“Misperception No. 2: It’s good to mix it up. New members bring energy and fresh ideas to a team. Without them, members risk becoming complacent, inattentive to changes in the environment, and too forgiving of fellow members’ misbehavior.

“Actually: The longer members stay together as an intact group, the better they do. As unreasonable as this may seem, the research evidence is unambiguous. Whether it is a basketball team or a string quartet, teams that stay together longer play together better.”

Not only sports teams or string quartets – symphony orchestras could also be considered in this statement. It’s a shame that many managements don’t subscribe to this view instead of seeing an endless supply of eager, young talent emerging from conservatories and music schools to replace higher-cost musicians.

By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

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