A Business Lesson from the Rockettes. Yup, the Dancers.

Devon-McDonald by

Last week, I attended a Radio City Rockettes performance at the Wang Theater in downtown Boston. I’m typically not a big musical/theater type of gal, but I figured this would be a great opportunity to spend some time with one of my best friends from home (who happens to be a huge fan of anything dance related, and also had a spare ticket), and get into the Christmas spirit.

The performance was mesmerizing. Aside from some of the corny Santa Claus appearances, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I could not believe how each of the Rockettes were spot on — they NEVER missed a step. They all were so aware of their surroundings on stage, and they functioned as such an amazing team.

This made me think about how an expansion stage business, one to which OpenView Venture Partners would potentially act as venture capital advisors, could learn a very valuable lesson from these ladies when it comes to group synchronicity and cohesion.

I’m not saying that everyone at your company should be the same. I definitely wouldn’t recommend implementing height and weight limits for your new hires — that would be a pretty messy lawsuit. What I am saying is that if your values are synchronized, and you are all aligned with the direction of the business, it will be a beautiful (and by beautiful I mean highly successful) thing.

Imagine your company putting on a performance for an audience. The audience is your customers, prospects, analysts, industry influencers, and venture capital investors. One “off” step and your audience will notice. And it could be detrimental to your business’ market share.

The Rockettes are talented women who mostly likely have been dancing their entire lives, but they don’t just get up on stage at Christmas time and put on an A+ performance without a lot practice and coaching behind them. Their dances are incredibly intricate, and this intricacy has given them a world-renowned dancing status. With this status they can charge $60 for back row seats at a cramped theater, year after year.

If you compare the coach of a dancing team like the Rockettes to a management team of an expansion stage business — you will notice a lot of similarities. The dancers on the team clearly possess a great deal of experience and value to add to others, but it takes a coach(es) to get everyone on the same page, teach the dances, and make sure all members of the group are completely, 100% aligned.

Every dancer will have strengths and weaknesses — they are, after all, human. The coaches must determine how to position these women to highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. If during a performance a teammate makes a misstep, the team is so familiar with one another that they know how to reposition themselves to recreate the alignment.

One of my favorite scenes of the night, and a scene that might equate to the most highly functioning business team, is the Toy Soldier skit. Check out this video below and you will understand what I mean. Can you imagine if enough trust and cohesion existed among your employees and management teams to perform this stunt?

S. Anthony Iannarino of the The Sales Blog released a blog post yesterday about the importance of cohesion within a business unit. He writes, “A team or unity that is cohesive enough to operate as a single entity with a shared vision, a shared mission, and a shared meaning, operates as if it were a far larger, far greater force.”

A goal for 2011: As a business, become more like the Rockettes.