Essay, Pages 5 (1189 words)
Ocean’s Eleven is a film about a successful, albeit criminal, team. This unlikely group of ex-criminals, performers and masterminds comes together to pull off an elaborate heist on a crooked casino owner. This film was chosen because, while the goal of the team is not exactly kosher, the work they do displays teaming at it’s finest. They take “teamwork” and turn it into a verb just as the book “Teaming” outlines. The team that is assembled primarily by Danny Ocean, a known white collar criminal, and Rusty Ryan, his partner, is comprised of 9 other critical team members.
Each team member was chosen specifically by the two leaders for their niche talents. Some are mechanical experts, others are masters of explosives while others yet share their knowledge and wisdom of the industry as they have been con artists in their lives as well. Though each member comes from a different background, they come together to achieve their goal.
The biggest factor that makes them a true team and not just a group is their shared goal and commitment to the execution of their con.
In the book “Teaming” the author attributes a team to being a group in which “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and that is exactly what Danny and his colleagues are. Each one of them has a specialty that when paired with the team makes them successful beyond what they could do individually. While Mr. Ocean and Rusty headed up the group and assembled the members, they lean into their group for knowledge, expertise and opinions.
The two leaders are there to guide, present the plan and oversee the steps, but the team members are trusted to complete their tasks independently. This hands off approach from their leadership helped get the team to a point where there was no major falling out or blaming going on as we see in other heist films. This team truly flowed together through every step and roadblock to pull off their con.
The Ocean’s Eleven team was extremely successful. As stated in Edmundso’s book, Teaming, “Teaming is teamwork on the fly” (p.13) which fits this crew to a tee. They were able to collaborate and carry their plans to fruition without a formal organizational structure. Goal driven, and motivated to take away several million dollars from the heist, the team members were able to adapt their diverse skills to situations as they arose, even taking on different roles as needed. Their communication was strong enough to allow them to work interdependently. Interdependence was necessary as they each had a very specific job to do, many times working concurrently, trusting their team member to achieve their goal which allowed them to attain theirs. Part of teaming is “speaking up, asking questions, and sharing ideas” (edmondson, 2010) and doing this allowed them to feel comfortable presenting ideas, sharing concerns and offering possible solutions to the many questions and problems that they encountered in the planning phase. Personal funding allowed them to experiment as a team with an actual replica of the vault, blueprints and physical visits to the casinos, and to reflect as a whole as they reviewed the outcomes.
Although conflict arose, normal for a team, they had mutual trust in, and respect for, each other, and each held themselves accountable for their role in the robbery. The character, Danny Ocean, was an easy-going leader who provided a comfortable, albeit high pressure environment that encouraged learning and camaraderie that allowed them to coordinate their efforts. A few areas for improvement would be transparency and the effect of hierarchy. Danny neglected to share with the team that his wife was currently involved in a relationship with the owner of the casino that they were planning to rob. This was discovered by Rusty, his trusted partner in the heist. This lack of transparency created conflict and left team members unsure of Danny’s motive for the heist. Several organizational conditions including organizing to learn, execution-as-learning and psychological safety stimulated the members. The men used their individual know-how to make forward progress while increasing their personal, and combined, ability to learn specific to their goal. They were lucky enough to do this in an atmosphere they felt safe enough to participate in.
Synergy, per James Frascona’s Unit 1 Instructor Notes and Commentary is, “the combined and coordinated efforts that result in an output that is greater than the sum of the individual parts.” Ocean’s Eleven exudes synergy as shown through the mutual respect, and trust, they showed each other through a long and stressful process. Without the interactions shared by the eleven members they could not have achieved their goal, but they did, and walked away with a pay-out of millions of dollars.
The casino heist was successful because of Danny Ocean’s leadership. He demonstrated collaboration, framed the project for success, identified and recruited skilled individuals for team, and clearly defined team member roles.Danny encouraged communication and input from the team. They met regularly to review the steps of the project providing an opportunity for team members to offer suggestions and voice concerns.The complicated heist required team members willingness to voice different values and opinions. By identifying problems and brainstorming solutions the project continued to move forward. A good example of this was when Danny learned about the issue with powering down Las Vegas. When Danny listened calmly to Basher explain the problem it gave the team an opportunity to explore creative solutions.
Ocean’s Eleven was created with a clear hierarchy. Creating an atmosphere of power and control can foster fear and resentment. This is something that Danny could have handled differently. Danny was the clear leader who empowered Rusty to assist him in the heist. His desire for power created an environment that was not psychologically safe and put team members at risk. The team members who were lower on the totem pole generally felt less psychologically safe and less likely to check with others. At times, team members functioned out of fear. Linus was probably the most fearful of the group. This was demonstrated when he was told by Danny to stay in the van when they were going in to the building. Having to stay in the van frustrated Linus. His lack of confidence and fear drove him to undermine Danny’s authority and leave the van to find his team members. When the team was on their way out he was on his way in. This complicated the entire mission and put everyone in danger. The message of empowerment was not delivered to Linus by Danny. Instead Danny was short with him and told him to stay in the van with no explanation.
Danny Ocean had a gift for developing a team. He recruited competent, knowledgeable, willing team members who were committed to the project. His easy going leadership style encouraged team members to utilize their talents to their best extent and to be creative in solving problems. While trust and psychological safety suffered at times, the roadblocks were easily overcome and relationships maintained. These eleven individuals all came together to perform the act of teaming in a way that led to extraordinary results.