Squadify Blog

Making magic happen

by Pia Lee - CEO, on July 2, 2021

Well, my co-founder, Dan Hammond, as many of you who would know, is the last person to be found ‘blowing his own trumpet’. Except in the musical sense. When his passions for music, humankind and the power of teamwork, all collided into a really great idea – it would be remiss if the other co-founder didn’t shine some light on it!

The Yorkshire Dales will soon be alive with the sound of music. After a year of lock down, no live entertainment and little opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, a bit of innovation was required to rekindle the love and enjoyment of music within the community. Dan developed the idea of Ilkley Live – a potential ‘world first’ garden music festival, where live acts entertain locals from a safe distance. Quite creative and yet quite simple. The thinking and inspiration behind this idea didn’t live in the tactical or transactional list-ticking world though, it’s a people and strategic focus – where innovation, connection and collaboration all have their heartland.


Over a year ago we wrote a wildly optimistically-titled paper ‘Leading Remote Teams in a Post-Pandemic world’ which focused on the importance of plucking your focus from the tactical weeds to seeing the world differently from a broader and more innovative view.

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Fast forward to today and here we all are, still very much in ‘containment’ to varying degrees, grappling from week to week with sudden, enforced changes that have seismically shifted the way we work and play. But the messages and key research from the London School of Economics then, still hold true. Working remotely encourages a bias to neglect the personal and strategic dimensions in favour of a transactional and task focus. And there’s a big cost to that. Harvard Business Review’s global study of over 1500 people worldwide, found that 89% of individuals felt their mental well-being had declined during COVID. 55% attributed this to increased workload.

A relentless wallpaper of daily virtual meetings become a bigger cause of disconnection from the things we cherish about being human. Teams are in many cases actually groups of individuals who face monthly pressure to deliver individual KPI’s. This system pressure encourages autonomous and often separate ways of working – the antithesis of collaboration and connection. Rutger Bregman reminds us in his recent book, HumanKind, that within our DNA, we are social human beings, wired to connect and work together. It helps us to create, inspire and find the magic, and sometimes, even the music.

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Squadify research also tells us that we don’t rate ‘strong personal connections’ that highly, in comparison to task orientated questions. Possibly because we don’t think we need to be friends with our colleagues. But is that too simplistic a view?

I was once asked what the percentage would be that I would put into a relationship with another person to make it work. My answer was 50-50. Wrong. You can only get 100% if you give 100% - which doesn’t mean that it’s about being ‘jolly lovely’ and friendly all the time, just that I value the human in the colleague whose working with me. It’s a mindset thing. Its not ALL about the task but a balance of people and task. It may mean mixing up your meetings, ditching a task check in for a team check in, finding out a bit more about the person you’re working with, finding some shared ground, away from work where connections can blossom into greater innovation, creativity and overall positive experiences.

We all have it, the power to find the magic. It’s just that solely focusing on KPIs and deliverables isn’t the mechanism to achieve it. It may seem counter intuitive, but the best ideas often are.

Like having a ‘world first’ garden music festival.

Read the Ilkley garden music festival here!