"Draw out" organizational and team performance to accelerate results

What We Can Learn About Teamwork from the Chilean Miners

The following article from Time Magazine is a fascinating look at Teamwork from one of the most challenging situations imaginable: the experience of the trapped miners in Chile. 


Some observations:

"When you fear for your lives, you pull together:"  also

They organized the group "into three-man buddy teams so they can all look after one another" and "set up a makeshift chapel to offer spiritual support." 





They've "established a rule that no one may eat until all 33 men have received their food."  They banded together against NASA and rejected a delivery of peaches to protest some of the controls placed upon them.  As Patrick Lencioni suggests in his book, "Silos, Politics and Turf wars", one proven way to unify a group is to have a common opposition.  And the fact that NASA considered the miners' reaction encouraging shows a high level of emotional intelligence on all sides."

The way the group of men have assumed roles is very interesting, with some relating to skills or physical strength, and some by age or self-assertion.  However, they've also established systems of coordination, not only through hygiene and tidiness but also by wearing the same color of shirt. 

Those outside the mine demonstrated transparent leadership and managed the emotions health of the miners through full disclosure of the facts and range of outcomes possible.  This way, they avoided elation followed by disappointment which could lead to depression – or worse. 

The article ends on a happy note: that the miners were being preparing for a significant increase in income due to the interview opportunities that will inevitably come their way. 

As I say in my book, "Five Reasons Why Bad Things Happen, How to Turn Tragedies into Triumph," there can often be a reward or blessing in a tragedy.  And, in this case, the blessings also extend to all of us in the business of managing teams – there are lessons in this tragedy-turned-to-triumph for each of us to take forward to improve our lives.  

– Brownell Landrum