Notes by EMA: Teamwork

Enrique Aboitiz Mendieta

10 2019

Again, I start, this is the way I look at life. Feel free to take it apart.


Teamwork is a word that is often used and, perhaps, not understood at depth. At its most superficial levels, it is about getting along. That understanding is of the concept is what those who end up last in a competition manifest in their everyday behavior — pat people on the back and tell them how great they all are, no matter what they have done.

The purpose of teamwork is to divide labor and then add labour back up together again to enhance productivity. Think of it as a chain where the weakest link is what defines the entire chain. To take on larger ships, each link of the chain has to be stronger and as strong as the other lest we have the whole chain upon the ocean floor and the vessel on the rocks.

Patting each other on the back is enforcement that adds to the emotional stability of the team, but it is not the main activity that enhances teamwork. Analysis and criticism is more valuable than cheering as it is where the real value lies — in improvement.

“Pictures say a thousand words” is the old but all-true saying. We have one conductor and 170 or so odd people in the team, each with a specific skill uplifting the human spirit in times of so much volatility. All and each piece must be the best at their trade and getting better to deliver Verdi’s Luisa Miller to perfection; to make perfect music together.


Photo by Endika Aboitiz


What builds this team? To start, an uncompromising conductor who will accept nothing but the best for every piece of the ensemble. Each skill must be at the top of the game. Then they must play in perfect sync. To do that, they must each understand all communication and practice. If one is off, the rest will howl and the audience will crucify.

The audience knows and the audience recognizes by the intensity and howling of their clapping as they rise to occasions. It gives immediate feedback. The orchestra revels in the clapping, but only for those short moments of acknowledgment. It is in effect, feedback, after which they return to the uncompromising quest for excellence.

The conductor never gets off the stage. He is there to conduct, coordinate, make sure that each piece is the best possible and that no link will break. He turns around to accept the praise of clapping but only for a few seconds. That is not what he is there for. He is there to make music. He is there to please an audience whose standards rise by the day in that virtuous circle of better and better and better; uncompromisingly better.

In our culture, we tend to enter orgies of congratulations and use less energy to help our chain links get stronger though the tool of robust critique and analysis. The result is a weaker and shorter chain that anchors smaller boats.