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  • kenpasternak

Intensive teamwork and longlasting friendships

Intensive teamwork can lead to long-lasting personal relationships.

Many are familiar with Bruce Tuckman’s FORMING-STORMING-NORMING-PERFOMING Model from 1965. He said that these phases are all necessary and inevitable for a team to grow, face up to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results. I experienced those stages in the mid-1980’s as a corporate banker in Helsinki.

A Finnish paper company had plans to build a newsprint mill in North Wales to meet the burgeoning demand for Fleet Street newspapers. They asked my bank to lead a unique and complicated financing project by gathering a syndicate to guaranty their leasing, rather than purchasing, of paper machines and other fixed assets.

The inspired design of the project had pulp supplied by trees from Scotland and a plant built on the site of a former steel mill which had excellent transportation access, a local workforce that could be retrained, and would attract subsidized loans from the European Coal and Steel Commission (precursor to the EU) and the European Investment Bank.

It took a year to put the financing package together in partnership with my merchant banking colleague in London. A team of bankers and many lawyers was FORMED. We then STORMED for months getting to know one another and ironing out details of the transaction. A visit by the group to the company’s headquarters in Finland (including a tour of the paper mill, sauna, and dinner) helped us to NORM. From then on we were able to PERFORM with the team members forging close relationships.

The deal was signed at a ceremony in the ornate Guildhall in London. Afterward, the team of bankers and lawyers went for sauna at one of the Nordic bank’s headquarters, followed by dinner together in Chinatown.

Often in such intense work situations close friendships are formed and at the end of the process It is important for members of the team to get appropriate closure. In fact, about ten years after creating his model, Tuckman added a fifth stage – ADJOURNING - when a group wraps up its work and then dissolves.

In our case, most members of the core group found a way to meet once a year at the same Chinese restaurant in London for a decade after closing the deal, to reminisce about our shared experience and catch up on new developments in our lives.

Building effective teams can be difficult, but when they work well, it can be a very rewarding experience. And great friendships can result.

Photo of transaction tombstone

Photo from London 1987 with me at left with John Reffell (in center), who brilliantly organized the banking syndicate from Citibank London and is sadly no longer with us, and Walter Marlowe who I met through his representing Bankers Trust on the project.

Photo from London, Chinatown, March 2022 – me with Walter Marlowe, my close friend of almost 40 years.

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