Let the Wild Ones be Wild

| | Leading Organizations

Wild Dolphins App IconThat’s one way to describe the mission of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program.  They protect wild dolphins which includes rescuing them when they are hurt.  They were part of the team who rescued Winter who is now a movie star in Dolphin’s Tale.

Over the last month I have been immersed in the world of wild dolphins while developing an iPad app with Harbor Branch, the Institute and the Foundation, with my partners at Polymash, Juergen Berkessel and Robyn Stratton-Berkessel.  Working on this project gave me the opportunity to observe collaboration, leadership, and relationship  from an angle I have not observed from in many years – from the view as a project manager.

There were three ingredients present for me that I think are essential elements of great collaboration.

1.  I was inspired – over and over by the passion and the can do attitude of all of those with whom I worked on this project, and by those whose stories we had the privilege of telling in this app.
2. I was challenged – the 30 day timeline from start to finish made this a true breakthrough initiative for us all.  There was nothing easy about this project and success was by no means guaranteed.
3. I am proud – to have been a part of this incredible team, of the product we created, and to be a part of creating something that helps people to understand more about these magnificent animals.

It was a reminder of what a small group of people can accomplish when they have a shared goal they are passionate about.  That was so for this project.  And it is the norm every time an injured dolphin is in need.  People come together.  It brings out the best in people even when it’s messy and even when emotions are high.  It teaches us what we can do and shows us gifts we perhaps didn’t know others among us had.

In being part of this team I became inspired by the stand of Harbor Branch to, as they put it, “let the wild ones be wild”.

I now understand better than ever the fragile relationship between man and nature and the profound impact we have on wild dolphins.  In the process I learned how through small actions we can all make a difference in preserving the delicate balance of our relationship with these animals and the environment we share.

Although it is hard not to be interested in the topic, I wasn’t trying to learn something about dolphins.  Yet I learned naturally because for this brief period of time I was immersed in the world of people who choose to take a stand every day to “give a voice to the voiceless.”

That is the power of a stand.  It finds its way into the hearts and minds of the people it touches.

A stand  is not about THE leader.  It’s personal for everyone involved.  And from that stand many other leaders and acts of leadership will emerge to keep that stand alive.

It is with great pleasure I announce that today the Wild Dolphins iPad App is now available in the iTunes store!

Uniting around a stand is also the source of great and enduring relationships.

I want to take a moment to appreciate the people who have made this app possible and who have touched my life in the process.  Congratulations to you all for an exceptional job in an unprecedented timeframe. And thank you all for your extraordinary partnership.

To my partners at Polymash, Robyn and Juergen. Your gifts are immeasurable and your partnership and friendship are invaluable.  And even hurricanes and earthquakes couldn’t stop you from delivering!

To my very dear friend, Megan Davis. Your invitation and stand for “it’s never too late” made this app possible.  Thank you for your leadership and your partnership every step of the way.  It has been so wonderful to work with you.

To our partner Janet Alford. Thank you for clearing the way to make funding possible and being willing to take the risk to invest “outside the box”.  Please extend our thanks to the Harbor Branch Foundation.

To my constant companion throughout this project, Jan Petri. You have been the MVP Jan, always delivering what was needed no matter what it took, contributing your incredible gift with words, and keeping us all laughing every step of the way.  It has been a privilege to work with you.

To the inspirational Stephen McColloch.  Your passion for wild dolphins, your leadership in protecting them, and the entrepreneurial spirit you bring to all you do is a wonderful demonstration of authentic leadership.  Thank you for all you have done and are doing to make this project a huge success.

To the dedicated Dolphin Doctor Juli Goldstein, for sharing your beautiful story and for your passion and leadership in “giving a voice to the voiceless.”

To the creative and passionate Jim Masterson, Brian Cousin,  Nancy Hatch and Larry Macke. Your contributions to the content and design of this app were abundant.  We loved working so closely with you.  Brian, your story in the app is one of my personal favorites.

To the unstoppable Patrick Boles, Carol Harwood, Nelson Beaman, and Damian Batchelor. Your technical assistance and partnership were essential to “Helping Us Help Them”.  Thank you for all of your support and contributions throughout.

Now that I’ve shared about one of my most exciting projects, I would love to hear about yours.  What principles of collaboration, leadership and relationship building are you observing in action right now?


Enter A Comment

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel   |   16 September 2011   |   Reply

Awesome post, filled with excitement and gratitude. It was indeed thrilling work. I echo from my heart all your appreciations.

In addition, it was about the amazing content we had to play with, and the palpable passion we all experienced for the purpose of the work. We all wanted the resulting effort to have huge impact and bring global awareness to our mission. It was about a shared commitment to a produce a positive result, and in that process, we all had ownership and were co-creators.

Susan Mazza   |   16 September 2011   |   Reply

“we all had ownership and were co-creators” – well said Robyn! Looking forward to what we all create together next.

Jan Petri   |   16 September 2011   |   Reply

The most fun I’ve had at work. At the insane pace we went, it should have been the project that took the most years off my life. However, if anything, it was a rejuvenating experience because a very disparate set of characters quickly came together as a team. With a quick push, our hearts dropped into our stomachs; we careered through the project milestones like a car without brakes going down a mountain road in the Pyrenees. I’m forever grateful for the guardrails (Susan, Robyn, Juergen, Patrick and Megan) because we bounced off every single one as tempers flared, egos were wounded, and misunderstandings compounded. Bumps and bruises notwithstanding, it was a thrilling ride, and with each guardrail that we hit, we picked up a bit of wisdom. By the time we could see the home stretch, we had also learned to choose a better line, were cornering with precision, moving faster, and enjoying the feeling of the wind yanking our hair straight back (well, I suppose that is how it felt to those who have hair…). We hit the bottom of the mountain with so much speed that we will continue to carry that momentum into the challenges ahead.
Harbor Branch, you soared on this one!
Polymash, as the name implies, is a blend of many: both a name and a verb: a company name and a mission. You brought together many talents, tossed them into the project Vita-mix, flipped the switch to what in “Spaceballs,” is called “ridiculous” speed, causing the lid to fly off and spattering our world with a creative (rather than a Tropical) smoothie (inside joke). You guys rock!

Susan Mazza   |   18 September 2011   |   Reply

Thank you Jan for capturing our “wild ride” so brilliantly and illustratively! As I said, you keep us laughing every step of the way. Let the fun continue!

Jenifer Olson   |   17 September 2011   |   Reply

Wow, this is magnificent! I had no idea until now that you were part of this fabulous project, Susan. Congratulations to you and the entire team for an important job, beautifully executed. And on behalf of those of us who love the ocean and every living thing within her, thank you for this. As you know, HBOI was part of a research project I was involved with a couple years ago, too, in the search for Amelia Earhart (http://searchforamelia.org). Magnificent organization…

Again, just wow!!! :-))

Susan Mazza   |   18 September 2011   |   Reply

Thank you Jenifer. It has been great on so many levels. I’ve always been passionate about what technology can make possible and this project was a perfect fit. I did know about the Amelia Earhart project but didn’t realize HBOI was part of it. Did you also know they helped recover the wreckage from the Challenger disaster? I was thinking how diverse my worlds have been this year – from seeing the Endeavor launch for her final journey to wild dolphins. And I realize things (and people) are somehow always connected.

Jan Petri   |   17 September 2011   |   Reply

on behalf of Harbor Branch, thanks for your kind words. We’re glad you like it.

Tony Adams   |   14 July 2012   |   Reply

Beautiful post..simple, gracious, elegant…inspiring! Well done on the writing and the marvelous work.

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