After being released from jail, Danny Ocean organized and leaded a team of 10 other individuals with different specialties to rob the vault that holds more than $150 million for three casinos owned by Terry Benedict in Las Vegas. The task is highly complex due to the tight casino security and had never been done before. 1 The casino’s vault is the least accessible vault ever designed. According to Rusty, trying to rob the vault would be like “trying to build a house of cards on the deck of a speeding boat ?. Reuben, who funds the robbery, is also the man who invented the casino security system and claims that “it can’t be beat ?.
Other than the vault, watchers, cameras, locks, the casino has enough armed personnel to occupy Paris. The most successful robber had only ran a few steps out of the casino with the money before being killed, and the money was not even from the vault. The security of the casino was also extremely tight and impossible to get past. The casino “houses a security system which rivals most nuclear missile silos ?. First the team needed to get through three cages which each had a different six-digit code changed every twelve hours.
After that they had to get through the elevators which wouldn’t move without authorized fingerprint identification and “vocal confirmations from both the security center within the casino and the vault below ?. If they tried to manually override the elevator, they would trigger the motion detectors and be trapped inside. After reaching the vault, there were armed guards and the “most elaborate vault door conceived by man ?. If they managed get past all the security, they still needed to figure a way to walk out with 150 million dollars of cash.
However, given the unbeatable security system, the team still succeeded in their mission and robbed the vault without being caught. It led us to wonder what exactly was unique of the team that contributed to their success. Hence, we came up with a question to explore: What underlying factors of the team contributed to the accomplishment of such a difficult task? Our team utilized the Team Effectiveness Model as a backbone of our analysis of our determined question, which contained the contextual factors, composition of the team, and the team’s processes in accomplishing the task.
Context The following three contextual factors contributed to the potential team effectiveness. Adequate Resources: The air ticket outlay, simulation construction expenditure, vehicle payment and other miscellaneous expenses were indispensable in order to rob Benedict’s casinos. Without Reuben’s funding, the task could not even be commenced. Besides the financial support, the timely information about the blueprint of the casinos from Danny and proper explosion equipment provided by Basher were non-financial resources that contributed to the success. Leadership and Structure
All team members were equipped with proper abilities and willingness to effectuate the delegated tasks. For instance, Livingston, who was the ex-FBI member, was responsible for the engineering support. Basher, who was a munitions expert, handled the explosion of the vault. In light of the Situational Leadership Theory, leaders can take the “hands-off ? approach, without involvement for these able and willing followers. For example, members’ experience and professionalism could substitute the needs of leadership’s instruction and support. Another reason for leadership could be absent from this team owed to the clear structure.
There were explicit formalized goals to rob the casino, distinct procedures to sneak into gateways of the casino, and intrinsic motivation of members to stay in the team. Climate of Trust: Each member believed that the others would not take advantage of one another. They were willing to be exposed to vulnerabilities due to their interdependence and the “chained ? structure of the task. For example, Danny’s installation of explosion device relied on Yen’s trespass into the vault, which in turn depended on Rusty’s success in tricking securities to deliver the trolley.
Composition Team composition is the mix of people who make up the team. The combination, distribution and complementarity matter. It consists of the ability and personality of team members, allocation of roles, diversity, team size and member’s flexibility and preferences. Abilities of Members: In the team of Ocean’s Eleven, every member had different abilities and expertise in their own areas, such as Linus (talented pickpocket), Basher (explosives expert) and Livingston (electronics expert). 2 As mentioned, the tasks in the film were very complex.
The high-ability team in the movie unquestionably allowed better flexibility and adaptability. Moreover, both Danny and Rusty were smart leaders, who further enhanced the team’s success. Allocation of Roles An effective team has different roles, which are needed to be filled by various members. In Ocean’s Eleven, Danny acted as a creator since he initiated the crazy idea to steal from the casino vault. Rusty acted like a controller because he enforced rules to ensure the process of the plan, for example, trying to urge Danny to give up when he realized Danny’s ex-wife Tess was then Benedict’s girlfriend.
All members acted as a maintainer to fight external battles. Due to the high complexity of the task and the limited number of team member, multiple roles were essential, especially Danny and Rusty. 3 The two were more skilled and experienced, so they were placed in the central roles to handle more of the work in the team. Moreover, different work assignments were distributed that fit with each member’s individual strengths. Diversity of Members Diversity was another important factor for the success of the team. In Ocean’s Eleven, the team consisted of members ranging from old to young, black to white.
Despite their difference in surface-level demographics, their deep-level values were very similar as mentioned. As the leaders, Danny and Rusty provided an inspirational common goal, so teams could take advantage from the diversity characteristic. Diversity would impose a negative impact upon a team in the short run. However, the team of Ocean’s Eleven had known each other and most have worked together before. Therefore, diversity was an advantage to the team. Process Even having the right contextual and compositional factors, the group can only possess a potential group effectiveness.
It can only be actualized through a positive process gain. A group with excellent contextual and compositional factors would still fail without a positive process gain. A positive process gain includes a common purpose, specific goals, team efficacy and minimum social loafing. Common Purpose Group effectiveness is largely determined by member’s commitment to the common purpose. The common purpose of the Ocean’s Eleven team was straightforward, simply to successfully rob the cash inside Terry Benedict’s casino vault. However, the drive behind each member’s commitment was slightly different.
Reasons of their own motivated them to commit fully into the common desired goal. Each member was strongly motivated to achieve their common purpose. With this motivation, they showed high reflexivity and were willing to adapt to different conditions in the plan. Along with the well-structured and thoroughly-discussed plan, the whole team understood the roles of each person and clearly knew what had to be accomplished and how. As a result, each member of the team was able to transcend their personal interests towards the accomplishment of the common goal, and ultimately led to their success.
Specific goals: Since the team member’s roles were highly differentiated, they each had different specific goals according to their skills and individual roles in the team. For example, Livingston was responsible for overlooking and hacking into the casino’s security system. His goal was to successfully hack into the system and counteract the casino’s surveillance system. Each member had a different goal to achieve during the operation, and they understood the importance of each step of the process.
Each member’s goal was highly interdependent on each other, so they were very focused on accomplishing their own specific goals. Due to the high specificity of their goals, each of the Ocean Eleven’s team member knew what and how to do things at the right time, therefore contributing to the team’s overall effectiveness. Team Efficacy: The team of Ocean’s Eleven displayed team efficacy. They were confident about their application of their skills to the team, and believed that they would succeed in the robbery. The abilities of team members were proportional to the confidence of the team.
As team members of the Ocean’s Eleven team were carefully selected according to their expertise, each member was confident of their allies’ ability to carry out assigned tasks successfully. Furthermore as all members are highly motivated, they are sure that the entire team is committed to the common purpose which will also increase team efficacy. Social Loafing: Throughout the entire process of carrying out the plan, there were no signs of social loafing displayed by the team of Ocean’s Eleven. This can be explained by the given situation.
Every member’s contribution was identifiable and none could hide from responsibility. The plan involved individual and joint responsibilities, where one member failing will lead to failure of the whole plan. Recommendation: The team effectiveness factors stated above all contribute to the success of Ocean’s Eleven. The team displays an exemplar to build up an effective team from three sections: context, team composition and process. In the contextual level, adequate resources, appropriate leadership style and a trustworthy environment, were the foundation to team’s success.
Complementary abilities, clear-allocated roles and proper diversity were essential elements in forming the team. Challenging shared purposes, measurable specific goals and non-existent social loafing were critical factors in the processes of the team. Despite the perfection of the team in the movie, films often merely depict “ideal ? and “magnified ? situations, as compared to the reality of our lives. There are many real world examples showing team failures. For instance, USA Basketball Team fails to win the Olympic Game Gold Medal in 2004 even though they had LeBron James and Allen Iverson in their team.
The reasons behind their failures were unclear and complex, but the most possible one might be that they didn’t have clear common purposes. They put an emphasis on their own skills rather than contributing to the whole team’s success. More practically, school project teams are often ineffective too, because certain factors are not present in our situations. We have summed up three common factors that contribute to team failure: improper leadership, lack of abilities and unclear common purposes. Improper leadership: In school project teams, formal leadership is often non-existent.
There are never pre-determined structures to successfully carry out the projects. Whoever speaks up and calls for a meeting first, will be perceive as the leader, despite their lack of leadership abilities. Many leaders in project teams use the wrong leadership styles, which lead to team failure. According to Situational Leadership Theory, leaders should choose different styles to cope with members’ readiness. Project leaders usually falsely perceive members’ ability and willingness. Delegating tasks to unable and unwilling members without clear instruction and support would make team ineffective.
Lack of abilities: When we group project teams, we often base our grouping on friendship, rather than skills. We initiate the search of group-members based on friendship, instead of pre-determining needed skills, and subsequently searching for members with the necessary skills. Effective teams should contain members with a variety of skills to form an all-around performing system. Therefore, school project teams’ member abilities often skew towards one direction, or are even completely random, instead of containing round-about specializations of skills.
Unclear Common Purposes: Differences in purposes appears in most, if not all, school project teams. Some students treat the project as a learning opportunity, and therefore strives to devote maximum effort throughout the process. Whilst some are results-orientated, therefore often think from the “grading ? perspectives, and tries to find the “best and easiest way to get a good grade ?. Some may perceive the process as a way to build camaraderie with unfamiliar faces, while some may see it as a tedious and troublesome process.
Hence, for a project to be efficiently and effectively accomplished, a common purpose must be communicated and understood from the beginning. Some modifications are needed if Ocean’s Eleven’s successful factors are to be applied into the real world. First, the team of Ocean’s Eleven skipped some group development stages. They knew each other and formed a team based on ?skill diversity’. The team immediately moved to the performing stage. However, this is not the case in the real world. Conflicts and uncertainty might appear in the team formation period.
Therefore, Ocean’s Eleven’s effectiveness factors only apply to teams that are already at the optimal performing stage. Also, situational variables and contingency factors affect the overall outcome of the team. If the boxing match had not been held in The Bellagio, and there were no Nevada Gaming Commission’s regulations to force casinos to hold enough reserve, the team might not have had a chance to steal from the vault. Chances, luck and other situational variables will affect (positively or negatively) the successful factors mentioned. Conclusion Our question stated in the introduction is clearly answered in the analysis.
What were the underlying factors led to Ocean’s Eleven team’s accomplishment of the robbery? Several organization behavior concepts can be used to explain. We chose the Team Effectiveness Model to apply for their successes. Clear structure, complementary skills and strong commitments to common purposes are some of the important elements. Also, motivation is another reason for them to work hard towards the impossible mission. However, many teams in the real world fail due to improper leadership, lacking abilities and trust, unclear unified goals and social loafing, for example, our school project teams.
The successful factors in Ocean’s Eleven work best for teams whose members understood each other very well. Situational factors and out-of-control chances may affect the effectiveness of the model stated. Therefore, we must be very careful when we apply these successful factors into the real world. Appendix A “ Full Plot Summary After being released from jail, Danny Ocean and his usual crime partner Rusty Ryan decided to rob the vault that held more than $150 million for three casinos: the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand, which were owned by Terry Benedict in Las Vegas.
They recruited another 9 specialists and led the team to put the plan into action. At first, Reuben Tishkoff, the financer of the project, was reluctant to take part because he knew that no one had succeeded in robbing a casino in history. However, he finally decided to join, as he perceived the task as a chance to revenge against Benedict. The task was highly complex due to the tight casino security system. Ryan also discovered during the middle of the task, that Benedict’s girlfriend was Ocean’s ex-wife, and so he urged Ocean to give up the plan.
However, Ocean refused. Ocean desperately wanted to win his wife’s love back. During the operation, Ocean went to the Bellagio to see Benedict and was consequently locked in a storeroom as planned. Bruiser, which was Ocean’s friend, was supposed to beat him. Yet, after promising a great deal of money to Bruiser, Ocean was allowed to leave the room via the ventilation shaft. In order to interrupt the normal services of the casino, they stole a device which was used to interrupt the electrical power of the whole Vegas for a few seconds.
This allowed them to successfully pass through all the packed security systems. Ryan consequently called Benedict, informing him of empty vault and all the money would be destroyed if he did not cooperate and delivery half of the money to them. Benedict called the S. W. A. T team to secure the vault. However, the SWAT force was actually dubbed by the team, and the image Benedict saw of his vault being robbed on his surveillance system was also faked. In the end, Ocean’s team successfully walked out of the casino and all other members were able to share the money equally.
Most importantly, Ocean won his ex-wife’s love and trust back. Appendix B “ Team Members of Ocean’s Eleven Appendix C “ Allocation of Roles of Ocean’s Eleven Appendix D – The Analysis of Each Members’ Motivation Towards the Common Purpose Out of the eleven members of the Ocean’s Eleven team, two of them have set specific yet difficult goals which were both unrelated to money. The leader of the team, Danny Ocean, was freshly out of prison. His ultimate goal and motivation was to reconcile with his ex-wife Tess, which was something difficult to accomplish since Tess hated Danny.
In the end of the movie, it was revealed that Danny’s motive in robbing the casino was to show Tess that Terry Benedict did not care about her as much as Danny did. Danny was willing to go through all difficulties and challenges to rob a casino to reach his goal. Thus the Goal-Setting Theory can explain his high performance. Reuben Tishkoff was another member of the team with a motivation that was supported by the Goal-Setting Theory. When Danny and Rusty first approached Reuben with their plan of robbing a casino, Reuben immediately refused to participate as he thought it was an insane idea and impossible to be done.
However, once Danny and Rusty revealed that they were targeting Terry Benedict’s three casinos, Reuben saw that as a great opportunity to take revenge on Terry for demolishing his hotel. This intention motivated him to join the team despite all the difficulties. The need for achievement from McCleland’s Theory of Needs can explain the motivation behind Rusty Ryan, Saul Bloom and Basher Tarr. Rusty had been a partner of Danny before Danny was imprisoned, and he did not have any chances to be part of exciting projects.
He was stuck in a boring job until Danny was released from prison and presented him the idea of robbing casinos. To Rusty money was a great motivation for him to be part of the team, however on top of that he wanted to engage in a new project to escape from boredom and gain satisfaction. Saul was a retired man with enough money to spend, therefore money is not his primary motivation. He claimed that he had changed and was content with his life when Rusty first approached him. In reality, Saul was extremely bored and had no direction of his life. He was convinced to join by Rusty later on.
Therefore, he seemed to be motivated by the sense of achievement and satisfaction. Basher was a robber and was motivated by money, but this was not his only motivation. When Rusty approached Basher and invited him to join the project, Basher revealed that he was glad that he could work with professionals again. Before that, Basher was doing robbery projects with people that he considered useless and unskilled. Other than money, Basher was also interested in participating in a challenging project with professionals. Therefore, he joined the team despite the risks and hoped to excel in the project.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs applies to Frank Catton, the Malloy twins and the “Amazing ? Yen. When Danny approached Frank at the casino, he seemed eager and asked him whether he was planning a job already. Frank was suffering from a serious case of bronchitis, and was eager to leave Las Vegas. Therefore, he was in need of a large amount of money. The twin brothers, Virgil and Turk Malloy, were the mechanics and drivers of the team. It was revealed in the movie that they were unemployed for six months and were “having difficulty to pass time ?.
Therefore, they were motivated by money and also to fill in hours by being a part of the team. Yen was a Chinese acrobat in a circus. He was dependent on his skill and his job in the circus. Without other information given, Yen was assumed to be motivated primarily by money. Lastly, Linus Caldwell and Livingston Dell’s motivation could be explained by Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory. Linus’ father was a legendary con man. His father did not want him to live on his name, so Linus had been looking for the opportunity to prove that he was unique and capable to surpass his father.
He was very talented but acknowledged that he was the least experienced out of the whole team. Therefore, the experience that he would gain through the project also motivated him. Livingston was working with the FBI when he was first introduced in the film. However, he was not being respected by the agents and was frustrated. It was apparent that he was motivated by a social need to have recognition and respect. According to the Equity Theory, since the money is equally divided among members and each member is essential to the project, they would consider their inputs and rewards are equally distributed.
Therefore, they would be further motivated. According to the Expectancy Theory, members expect to gain rewards after certain performance. In this case it is clearly stated in the beginning that if the money is successfully robbed, they would receive an equal share, and intrinsically they would also expect certain non-financial rewards which they believe would be achieved through this operation. Therefore they were also motivated because of these expectations.