8 Team Building Lessons from the Internationally Acclaimed Netflix show Money Heist



Image source

In an ideal world of team building, each person each day is excited to be involved in the project or work they do. Are you?

This piece is inspired by the Netflix series Money Heist and a business training I attended on building an awesome team by IE International University. As a viewer of Money Heist, I was impressed with how the heisters were able to make the general public join them in a rebellion all thanks to the remarkable team they had built.

As a writer in the entertainment industry, I have realized that collaboration is important and in order to collaborate well, great teams need to be built. 

The essentials of team building are purpose, mastery and autonomy. Businesses around the world that are able to successfully achieve these 3 goals usually also succeed in providing motivation, allowing for creativity and improving productivity in their teams. In addition to these 3 essential elements to team building are gender representations, adapting to changepersuasion, recruitment and networking.

Let's talk about all the essentials as inspired by this internationally acclaimed Netflix show.

1. Purpose

The Money Heist's team purpose is to print 24 billion euros and also to complete the greatest heist ever. The fact that they plan to print the money means that they will not steal; that is how they get the protestors on their side.

In a team, things happen and goals change but the larger goal should never change. In order to have a great team like the professor, it is important to educate the team into their behaviour and purpose as individuals and as teammates.

2. Mastery

Education should make sure that each team member has a high level of mastery in their area of expertise. In Money Heist, the person digging the escape tunnel, the person printing the money and the person keeping the hostages in check were the best at what they did.

We like to work in teams when we believe that we're going to get better at what we do or what we like to do. This is highly motivating. 

As a team leader, if you assign a role to someone and they act hesitant or say they don't want it, it's important to help that person understand that they are going to be incredibly valuable - not only in this team but also to themselves as they build towards greater competency for the future.


Nairobi: Image source

Aspiration for greatness inspires mastery. In Money Heist, the aspiration is to a great robbery, freedom, breaking away from traditional society, and its requirements. This aspiration for greatness gives an opportunity for mastery through practice. 

For instance, Nairobi is good at printing money but she goes to become an even greater master when she prints 24 billion euros in the greatest money heist in history. 

Berlin is a master of social, emotional and cultural intelligence. He understands people very well. He knows what makes them tick enough to know what and how to say things in order to persuade them to do what he wants them to do.

3. Autonomy

Money Heist highlights the power of a team that is formed by autonomous people who can make decisions within the guidelines of the culture of the group. Everyone was able to make decisions in order to change and adapt the plan to changing conditions on the ground. There's a culture of instant communication especially when it comes to who is in charge when the professor is not around.

It is important to remember that everything is derived from culture. The professor taught them to have shared values which included spilling no blood, making the money, and getting the money out so that they could improve everyone's lives. 


Denver: Image Source

Team leaders are meant to be driven and passionate about what they do so that the team members can learn by example. Each team member should be self-aware enough to know what drives them personally.

In one episode, the team leader Berlin who was not in full possession of his mental faculties ordered Denver to take Monica's life. When met with the dilemma of shooting her or being killed himself, Denver made a rather clever decision that saved both their lives and led to their love affair. This goes on to show the power of autonomy versus blindly following of leaders even when they are clearly on the wrong.


Berlin: Image Source

Therefore, in order to form a good team, it's important to foster a feeling of autonomy and ownership in each individual so that they can act in accordance with the purpose of the team.

Hierarchy also determines culture: the money heisters hierarchy was that of peer relations except for the professor who was slightly above. This contributed to the openness of the members when it came to communication. There are many moments in the series where different people became the boss. 

4. Gender representation

In Money Heist, there is a balance in gender representation; we see powerful female figures in Raquel and Alicia who represent the former and current head of the police. While Raquel allows for moral ambiguity and questions what the police do, Alicia does not. She is a member of law enforcement with questionable ethics and morality. She will torture and harm people in order to get what she wants. Although they were both in the same team, to begin with, they no longer are because they do not share the same values of good and bad.

Raquel shows her autonomy when she joins the heisters, a team she was once against. This is the beginning of her transformation into developing her own power and her own set of ethics and values. She becomes completely revolutionized, even wearing different kinds of clothing like shown in the picture below. She carries with her all the knowledge she has of law enforcement and becomes a crucial member of the heisters team. 


Raquel: Image source

5. Adapting to change

It is important to note that in every team there will be conflict and resistance. The reasons for resistance are fear, loss of control, uncertainty, surprises and unfamiliar things - all of which stem from change. One of the key features of teams is that they can change' this is highlighted by how the law enforcement team changed once Raquel left.

A radical change also occurred among the hostages when Monica joined the heisters. This is after Arthur dismissed her when she told him that she was carrying his child. The painful dismissal leads Monica to the arms of Denver her captor and eventual lover (Stockholm syndrome). Monica fully embraces her new team and even goes on to take on the name of a city and what better city for her than Stockholm. 


Stockholm: Image source

6. Persuasion

Persuasion is a key skill in team building. And it requires a show of evidence and credibility. You are more likely to persuade people if you show them evidence that you believe they should do the thing you say and you have credibility in it. One should also have emotional, social and cultural intelligence in interacting with a group to increase the chances of successful persuasion. 

The professor is great at persuasion, an example is how he got Tokyo to the team by saving her from a trap the police had placed to arrest her. He also revealed some details about her life that no one else knew and explained how he was going to help her change her life.

7. Recruitment

Hiring is dependent on culture: what culture do you want to create, and who are the people who can help you create this culture? It is important to ask yourself questions such as

  • Will you have a shared purpose with the new member of the team? 
  • Will they be accepting of responsibility and autonomy? 
  • Will they be able to make decisions much like the ones the leader would?
  • What role will they take?
  • How will they fit with the other members? 
  • Will they be able to communicate easily in the group and will their addition be useful?

Mastery should be taken into consideration too because you want to hire people who are capable. For instance, the  Professor hired Tokyo because she was good with a gun and great at being a thief.



New Recruit Bogota: Image Source

8. Networking

Who is in your network? What are the networks of the people who are in your network? Networking helps us access expertise that we don't have and get our goals achieved as a result.

We should all be like the Professor who was a connector connecting networks. He had done his research and figured out a network of thieves with specific skills that he needed for this particular heist. He was so good at networking that he was able to bring Raquel who was once against the team to his side and into his network. 

Thanks to Money Heist we have seen the power of autonomy, mastery and purpose in accessing the drive and motivation of people to really want to be engaged in their work. People seek meaning and a sense of accomplishment as a primary motivation. 

Giving room for gender representation in our teams is also a great way to build healthy teams. We also need to improve our persuasion, recruiting and networking skills because after all, we all need each other. 

Have you watched Money Heist? What was your biggest takeaway lesson from it?



7 comments:

IT world is Here said...

Wow wendy! Nice work here

Emmanuel Esadiah Soreh said...

Nice am now viewing it from a different angle

Wendi Ndaki said...

Thank you Faith :)

Wendi Ndaki said...

I'm so glad you are Emmanuel. There are so many lessons to learn from Money Heist that are yet to be explored especially on the storytelling...but that's a story for another day ;)

Sport Guru said...

Good job Wendy

Sport Guru said...

Good job Wendy

Wendi Ndaki said...

Thank you.

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