I came across an excellent article written by T. Boone Pickens called, “Having the Best People Won’t Give You the Best Team”. I agree whole heartedly when the article states that, “It is not about bring the best people on board. It’s about bringing the right people on board.”
The key question to consider is best at what? It is not enough to make teams out of people who are all best at something because IMHO everyone is best at something. In order to create a strong team, all members need to be best at something that is related to the goal. At the same time, not all members should be best at the same something. Sound confusing?
I believe teams should be spiky. Not spiky in the gladiator sense, but spiky in the sense that everyone is good at some things and less good at others. To build a strong team, the skills and weaknesses of everyone on the team need to fit together in an interlocking fashion.
To put it another way, the team needs to be unified yet diverse yet equal. Overemphasis on any 1 or 2 of these elements creates dysfunction. It is only when all 3 are balanced, that the true power of the team is released.
So, what is the problem with creating business teams? I think that the root problem is goal setting and execution. We do not really set clear goals and make workable plans to match. The goal for teams of firefighters is clear – put out the fire! The goal for teams of police is clear – catch the bad guy! The same is true in hockey – put the puck in the net!
What is the goal in business? It depends. That means the makeup of the best team depends as well. But I don’t think we properly account for that. After all, as Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) said, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.