Are We An Effective Team?

During a recent international trip I had the chance to watch the Tom Cruise movie “Obviation“. Set in a dystopian future where the Earth as we know it was destroyed in a battle with Alien invaders wishing to steal our resources. Cruise (in the hero role of course) plays Jack Harper a drone repair man opposite of Andrea Riseborough as Victoria Olsen who is his communications officer.

To be honest, I didn’t find the writing of the movie very good, and won’t give away any spoilers in case you want to see it. As for this post, the key point to take way is just knowing they (both Jack and Victoria) are a “team”.

In the story Vicca (Victoria’s nickname) communicates with “Sally” on an orbiting space station where she receives daily instructions for herself and Jack. During these conversations everyday, Vicca is asked by Sally “are you and Jack an effective team“? The general response back from Vicca was “yes, we are an effective team“. This word interaction plays out over and over everyday with Sally repeatedly asking and Vicca responding in the affirmative. While the movie is based upon Joseph Kosinski’s Radical unpublished Comic works, it is unclear to me who packed these particular lines into the script.

As I found the lines extremely interesting, for example when Sally would make the query (are you and Jack an effective team), Vicca would light up like one of Pavlov’s dogs in her response with “yes we are an effective team“. Now I realize that Riseborough is an actress and this was a fictional movie yet it got me really thinking of the subtle conditioning this produced by the use of these trigger words along with the positive affirmation created by the required response from Vicca to Sally.

This got me looking at the magic of the words, as the key lead in is “we” which not only joined Jack and Vicca together, however also Sally and the “cause” together as one. This is a testament to the strength of the word “we” which is often over looked especially when intended as an affirmation. Next is the word “effective” as this makes clear the expectation of the “we“.

This is because when Sally asks “are we effective“, she is implying she [Sally] is, and seeking an affirmation they (Jack & Vicca) are also. Think about it, this would be very hard to say no to, therefore this incites agreement which pushes one to achieve compliance. The final key word in this mix is “team” which brings together the “effective we” into something with structure. As here it [team] is used as a verb meaning to “Come together to achieve a common goal“.

As written in my blog ( before, the human mind is very suggestible and even in the brief time watching this movie, I the viewer was also drawn in by this phrase. I too wanted to be part of this “effective team“. This is what I found interesting as it was not my intent to be drawn in as I was, yet I found myself either unwilling or unable to resist the suggestions of these words. In this I found myself in the end being part of this “effective” team and when it broke (you will have to watch the movie to discover why), I too was broken.

All in all it fascinates me as to how simple words formed into repeated affirmations can have such an impact in what turns out to be very little time. As yes we ARE an EFFECTIVE team