Early this year I was part of a team working on great projects together. We had something cool happening and it never felt so right to start a business. Unfortunately, not long after we started, the team left the project due to life commitments that unabled them to continue with our plans. Trying not to feel too upset, I encouraged myself to continued the journey trusting the process and believing it would all fall into place.
You know this, right? It became excruciatingly difficult to continue alone. There is something about teams, they represent a small crucial validation that what you are working on is something that is worth doing. The lack of having a team made my journey ten times harder. You might associate this with lack of skills or poor time management but I found that not being able to discuss ideas and share decisions was the most difficult aspect to deal with.
Money, problems, ideas, time… we can be creative and find different solutions but the team has to be authentic. There is no buying or quick fix. We all need a team that resonates with us in a magical way.
This scenario happens everywhere. Large organisations are another environment that survival very often depends more on your social skills than your actual contribution. As an entrepreneur, my success is the last thing I need to worry about. It’s other people’s drive that I keep my eye on. It’s by helping them succeed that we can innovate and to be fair I think that is the only way. I hear so many stories of people that want to brave the world alone and take all of the glory. As a result they end up bitter, picking fights and missing the point completely. Whenever I approach someone and say I value their input and I need help to refine my ideas, everyone is keen to help and before you know it, we are helping each other to develop ideas that were never possible.
Sometimes I wonder if we take that subject for granted. I certainly did. We know team work is important. We know it’s part of everything we do and part of the amazing things we achieve, so why do we insist on keeping the conversations about us as individuals? Our performance, our recognition, our success. We see so many histories of individuals that created empires, when we know they didn’t do it alone.
When I see process charts, almost none mention anything about the team working on the project. It’s almost like it doesn’t matter who is behind that chart. If you follow it, your project will magically work out. IDEO is a company that often mentions team building as part of the process. 10 faces of Innovation and Change by Design, books from IDEO, clearly talk about the importance of dedicating time to this.
What if team building was more embedded into our professional culture? Imagine if we were hired in teams and fired in teams. We would replace questions like “What would you like to be when you grow up?” to “Which team would you like to be part of?” If everything we develop connects us to other humans, wouldn’t it be better for our development to take that into everything we do? It does sound extreme, but teams share the risk. A person determined to succeed, most certainly will, but a team determined to succeed changes the world.
It did take me a while to find other likeminded people but there is one amazing thing that happens when we are out there trying. Many incredible people will help you if you let them. So if your team left for other ventures or if you are still looking for one, here is my advice: Get out, be focused, and don’t rush it! Read books like The Founders Dilemma and Group Genius. Plan this carefully. Know what you want and talk to people about that too, not just your idea. Make this your project before you can continue your own.