As I watched a drum and bugle corps competition, I could barely follow all the moving parts. There were hundreds of members spread across the full field with flags flying in one direction, “guns” being thrown in another, horns swaying one way and the drums marching at their side, all while the front ensemble added in their own music and entertainment. It seemed that each component had its own separate act, yet it was clearly orchestrated as part of the whole.

In addition to the performance, all of the corps members contributed to the set-up and tear-down of the props, conductor stand, electrical cords, flags, etc. It, too, was a well-choreographed production where everyone knew their role and carried it out efficiently.

The program booklet highlighted that the delegation of duties occurred behind the scenes as well, thanking volunteers who “cook, sew, drive, teach, fix or construct instruments, work on props, serve on the board, wash cars, stir the Squencher, fix kids’ ailing limbs, build or clean stuff, take in stranded members stuck in the airport, help with recruiting, work on fundraising or find all of these great volunteers mentioned above.”

Organizations would be well-served to take a field trip to a drum and bugle corps competition and to apply lessons from there to their own organization. It should be the goal of all organizations to work with such efficiency, artistry and coordination – as a unit, but ultimately as a whole.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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