The Avengers: A Model Organization
Nick Fury: There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could…
Fury is talking about The Avengers, of course. When I look at this quote from Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie blockbuster of 2012, a few words jump out at me: together, remarkable, needed, and fight. Let’s take a closer look to see what the lessons are for us and our organizations.
Remarkable– Some of the synonyms for remarkable are exceptional, noteworthy, impressive, outstanding, and super. What remarkable is not: normal, ordinary, typical, usual. With The Avengers, just one look at their uniforms lets you know that you’re not dealing with typical people. What kind of people are in your organization? Are remarkable people lining up to be a part? Or are they taking their talent, knowledge, creativity, and insights elsewhere? Forget everyone suddenly becoming remarkable. What if just 10% of your organization was considered remarkable? Or what if they could be 3% more remarkable tomorrow than they were yesterday? There’s a good possibility that your organization holds the keys to this progress through professional development, community engagement, and collaborative endeavors. And, as the people in your organization grow more remarkable so too will your organization. They may not need to save the world from an alien attack, but they can achieve more. Make it your singular focus to give them the keys.
Together– What I found most intriguing about The Avengers is their ability to be petty and egotistical and to fight with each other. What I wanted to stand up in the theater and yell is, “Hey, guys, could we all focus on the task at hand?” (Perhaps it reminds you of some meetings you’ve been in.) Near the end of the movie, I’m left with these doubts: “Are they really going to come through? Can they save humanity from total annihilation? And what is that thing that looks like a big serpent, fish-type ship that’s swimming through a dark hole in the sky?” I don’t want to give away the ending in case you haven’t seen the movie yet (and perhaps you stumbled on this post and thought it was a movie review), but let’s just say that The Avengers were clutch (to use an often-used sports term). They communicated. They responded. They assigned team members to tasks suitable to their strengths and skills. They helped out and didn’t care who got the credit. Are your team members responding at the right time to advance the cause of the organization? Or are individuals still caught up in what their title is, whose responsibility it is, or who gets the recognition? Initiatives in social business and communications and community engagement need all on board. Is your organization in this together?
Needed– Needed is an interesting word. In this context it implies that there are times when they are not needed. Those are the times when Dr. Bruce Banner can be in India or Tony Stark can run his multi-billion dollar company Stark Industries or Steve Rogers can get a nearly 70-year nap. But needed means that it’s imperative. It’s now. There’s no one else who can do this. Are you asking so much of your employees, members, supporters, and/or customers (do this training, buy that, go to this event, be in Tuesday afternoon’s meeting), that when they’re really needed, they can’t respond? They’re weary. They’re overburdened. You can’t always operate at Code Red. Be selective in your appeals. Less is more. Give them time to get refreshed.
Fight– The Avengers are an intelligent, talented group of individuals. But what they are mostly is powerful. They were called on in this time of global need to bring the fight, and that’s what they did. No other police or military force could do what they do. When it came down to it, it wasn’t the brilliant scientist or industrial leader or any of their other personas the world needed, it was the fighters. Chances are that your organization is not calling on your constituents as fighters. Recognize your employees, members, and/or supporters as multi-faceted, but focus like a laser beam on what it is your organization really needs from them. Realize too that the needs may vary from time to time, but play to the strengths of individuals. They’re not all the same. They’re not merely cogs in a machine. If you want a responsive, energized, and engaged organization, you’ll ask them to bring their strengths and you won’t bog them down in bureaucracy or mindless tasks.
What lessons do you see for organizations from The Avengers?
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