What Project Teams can Learn from Mardi Gras Krewes
It’s Mardi Gras time again and there would be no Mardi Gras without the project teams, the beloved New Orleans social clubs referred to as Krewes. These Krewes are philanthropic organizations who raise thousands of dollars for charity every year as well as put on the greatest free show on earth, celebrating life and inclusivity where anyone can show up and enjoy the festivities.
Each year the different Krewes assemble for walking, marching, second lining or riding in elaborate floats that are uniquely themed, aimed at dazzling the crowds with double or triple decker papier-mâché Vegas style LED light and animatronic displays. With over 75 different active Krewes there is much to be learned from all of these innovative project teams.
Krewe Culture: “Lagniappe”
Lagniappe refers to that something extra. Mardi Gras Krewes are more than teams and definitely have lagniappe. In addition to the visual spectacle, each Krewe float is accompanied by a soundtrack to keep the team rocking during the parade. Parades can include over 20 floats with each float being it’s own unique experience. Teams can learn about finding ways to give extra from these experience centric Krewes.
When people join a new team or an existing team they want to “fit in”. People want to feel accepted and comfortable. But when it comes to finding that right team, the existing team members need to welcome in new members with lagniappe, something extra, so the new folks can feel true to themselves to make their best work.
Krewe Spirit: Authenticity
Since your brand is what people say about you when you’re not a round, the popularity of the Krewes are a testament to the authentic experience they provide. Millions of tourists drive awareness globally, traveling from all over the world to participate; bringing their own costumes, collecting throws, sampling king cake, and endlessly tailgating even though Mardi Gras Parades run rain or shine and the crowds can be as thick as gumbo. Team effectiveness is not enough, it’s also about perception.
Krewe Experience: Engagement
The majority of project outcomes are determined by human factors versus processes, making projects a relationship centered business focused on the customer experience. Parades are the ultimate experience for both the Krewe parade rider and the crowd member.
Mardi Gras floats are not known for being boring, they are unique for the year, and themes are not revealed until the floats start rolling down the road, which keeps the audience guessing. When a parade rider locks eyes with a crowd member a connection is made. Even if only for a moment, like in slow motion, the act of throwing the light up bead and the crowd member catching it, ignites a shared thrill. Project teams need to embrace creative ways to connect and give stakeholders a shared experience that makes them feel invested in the success of project outcomes.
Krewe Longevity: Navigating Rough Waters
Just as New Orleans wraps around the Mississippi river bend, the Krewes who cruise down the avenues understand the importance of navigating rough waters. Whether it was the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina or this first carnival post Covid, the Krewes are a testament to the adage that, “Tough times, don’t last but tough teams do”. It’s ok to let the good times roll no matter what.