Management 101, brought to you by Heineken

The new Heineken brand film is wonderful—tailor made for sharing and getting my branding and ad friends all frothy. I agree, it is the kind of commercial work that succeeds where so many others fail—it makes a cultural/political statement within which the brand has an active role—no gratuitous product placement here, the brand is seemingly the conduit through which folks across the divide come together and mend fences. Pretty masterful brand jiu jitsu right there.

But what the spot is really saying is far simpler, and far less branded. It dramatizes something I’ve known for years: the motivational, healing power of making things together.

My husband and I have restored 2 old homes with our own hands. Now when I say restored, I mean just that—15 years of prowling around salvage yards and garbage picking doors, windows and the like. We’ve tiled, drywalled, built cabinetry, you name it. And no matter what he did to piss me off (or, maybe very rarely, vice versa) stepping back at the end of a long day (preferably with glass of wine in hand, but Heineken would work too) and looking at what we accomplished put everything in the right light. After we put in a patio, neighbors said “we watched you for the last 4 days and you never yelled or got mad at each other!!” Of course not, we were too sweaty and exhausted laying brick to argue.

Making things together allows us to see past perception, even pre-determined bias—to what really gets our limbic brain going—the emotional and memory-making potential of shared accomplishment.

Now you say: “Of course we all know cooperation is good.” That’s not what I’m talking about. Cooperation’s great, but I’m talking about MAKING something. That’s the key—making something you and your partner(s) in crime can look at and say, “hey we did that!”

Solving problems together, seeing tangible progress, and yes, occasionally employing power tools are all incredibly effective ways to realize that your feelings about someone may be less about them and more about the situation you find yourselves in. Working with one’s hands simplifies things. Keeps things in the moment and immediate—there’s no time for political bullshit.

The ability of shared creation to mend wounds, bridge gaps and dispel biases is second to none. So next time you need to get a group motivated to act as a team, instead of ropes courses and white water rafting (both of which I love, but…)—try building a bookcase for the office, or making a swing set for a coworker’s kid, or working with Habitat for Humanity. And a little beer when you’re done couldn’t hurt.

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