The Dead came to Denver this month on their first tour in years, and the party was on. Non-Deadheads may wonder what the big deal is about a band that's been around for 45 years and has lost a few members along the way, including its spiritual leader, Jerry Garcia. But as any Deadhead can tell you, what makes the band special is their ability to play as a team.

Like jazz musicians, they seem to telepathically communicate and instinctively understand what the other band members are going to do next. On stage, everyone is improvising. With few words and minimal body language, they can play long sets of complex songs, shifting gears seamlessly as one cohesive unit. No set or solo or concert is exactly the same from one night to the next. The fans have their favorites but the band has no stars. The difference between the Dead and most other rock bands is that the Dead is about the band, not the players.

So what is it that creates teamwork and how can you instill that attitude in your organization? In sports it's called chemistry. Winning teams have chemistry and losing teams need it. But do winning teams have natural chemistry or do they create an environment that encourages it? Does team chemistry require a charismatic leader to set the right example, or can a group of players with a common goal create their own chemistry?

Not to be Zen about it, but the answer to those questions is yes. Teamwork is something everyone can appreciate but it is difficult to accomplish. Each leader and each organization is capable of creating it, but many are not willing to devote the time or make the commitment. And sometimes it just happens.

Take the mysterious case of the Denver Nuggets. Maybe some of the Dead's attitude rubbed off on them, because the notoriously me first Nuggets are suddenly playing the type of team first game that NBA coaches dream about. They are even talking championship. The lesson here is, if the Nuggets can play as a team, anyone can. It takes a major commitment but the rewards are worth the effort. Once everyone buys into the concept, the results will come quickly.

There is no specific roadmap to teamwork, but the path becomes illuminated once an organization is open to following it. To quote the Dead, "that path is for your steps alone." Ramble on easy.

Bookmark and Share