Orchestrators are crucial in organisations. Originators want to create new ideas; operators want to translate ideas into action. The only problem is that sometimes these two groups speak different languages and find it hard to work together.
Orchestrators create the bridge between originators and operators. They play a key part in making things happen and producing results for an organisation. Here are three ideas to consider if you want to be an orchestrator.
1) You can decide whether you want to be an orchestrator.
“Looking back on my life, I realise that I love bringing different groups of people together to achieve a common goal,” said one person. “I have managed a rock band, organised voluntary work overseas and captained the local cricket team. Nowadays I am a project director. Providing people commit themselves to achieving the goal, I can harness their talents to do great work.”
Would you enjoy being an orchestrator? One way to find out is to look back and explore the satisfying ‘projects’ in your life. These can be 'projects' in the broadest sense of the word. Looking at these projects, have you got a pattern of bringing people and things together to produce positive results? Is this something you find fulfilling?
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. First, describe the fulfilling 'projects' that you have orchestrated in the past. Second, rate the extent to which you feel motivated to be an orchestrator in the future. Do this on a scale 0 – 10. The rating needs to be 8+/10. (This also assumes that you will be able to find stimulating projects.) Try completing the following sentences.
Assuming that you enjoy being an orchestrator and have the strengths required, you may then want to move onto the next step.
2) You can choose a project where you want to be an orchestrator.
Choose the right project with the right people in the right place. You can do this by focusing on the:
Make sure you choose a stimulating project that has a reasonable chance of achieving the picture of success.
Make sure the people involved are choosing to opt-into the project and are prepared to work hard to achieve the picture of success.
Make sure the project is in the right place – the culture and environment – that fits your working style and will contribute to achieving the picture of success.
Where to find such a project? The way that normally works is:
a) To keep in contact with people in your network, especially those who you would enjoy working with in the future.
b) To ask about the challenges they face, the projects that need starting, developing or completing, and how these projects can help the organisation to achieve success.
c) To, in an appropriate way, provide ideas about how the projects might be landed successfully.
This obviously has to be done in an encouraging way, because the key is to help the potential sponsor to be successful. It is not actually to promote yourself. Paradoxically, however, you will find that eventually somebody says: "How can we take this further?"
You will then be in a position to set the project up to succeed. It is vital to get the right balance between accountability, autonomy and authority. You will be accountable to 10/10. So you must have autonomy and authority to at least 8/10. You will need the brief and mandate to make things happen successfully.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. First, describe the specific kind of project that you would find stimulating. Second, describe the specific things you can do to find or create such a project. Third, describe the specific things you can then do to ensure the project is set up to succeed. Try completing the following sentences.
3) You can help people to do great work by being an orchestrator.
Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, travels the world giving lectures about leadership. He believes the conductor, or leader, is only as good as the musicians with whom they work. It is their job to co-ordinate people’s talents to produce great performances.
Warren Bennis and Patricia Bierderman describe a similar approach in their book Organizing Genius: The secrets of creative collaboration. They believe that:
“Every great group has a strong leader. This is one of the paradoxes of creative collaboration. Great groups are made up of people with rare gifts working together as equals. Yet in virtually every one there is one person who acts as maestro, organizing the genius of the others."
"He or she is a pragmatic dreamer, a person with an original but attainable vision. Ironically, the leader is able to realize his or her dream only if others are free to do exceptional work.”
Warren and Patricia found that great groups have certain characteristics. People believe they are on a compelling mission. They have a dream with a deadline. They have the right people in the right places. They collaborate brilliantly to reach their goals. Great groups ‘ship’.
How could you do this in your own way? Good orchestrators develop their individual styles of harnessing people’s talents. The journey can be both frustrating and joyful. But it is great to enable people to achieve a fulfilling goal.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Let's assume you have settled on a stimulating project. Describe the specific things you could do to orchestrate the project successfully. The end result will then be satisfying for the individuals, the team and for yourself. Try completing the following sentence.