The Star Wars story line works so well because of the huge “power of the dark side of the force”. Instinctively, we empathize with folks who fight against that kind of power. It is an easy sell. And I am aware of teaching that attempts to bring the sense of urgency to team building. Pat Riley, for example, is an advocate for finding the right enemy to fight against.
This can motivate. But there is a downside to it as well. The downside relates back to the disturbing results of the Stanford experiment. Healthy and normal folks can become unhealthy when put into a culture that fosters it. In the Stanford experiment, students morphed into sadistic prison guards. So finding an enemy and using threat as a motivator can result in some odd firm culture issues.
Is there another way? Dave Logan talks about another sort of focus in his “level 4″ groups. Members of these groups are highly engaged in strengthening the relationships they have in the group. They develop a special group language. But Dave cautions that you cannot form this type of group overnight. It takes an investment of time and effort.
I am ok with the time thing. But what kind of effort? According to Dave, level 4 attitudes evolve out of high self-esteem. So the starting point is to build into your culture mechanisms that raise the self-esteem of group members. Greg McKeown HBR talks about this today - and encourages use of a minimum raito of praise to blame (at least 2.9 to 1 and better yet 5 to 1).
Greg mentions Phil Zimbardo in his piece and I have added Phil Zimbardo’s TED video on “seeding the earth with heroes” in my educational videos page.