when you look at successful teams, it can be difficult to identify the source of their success. what you may attribute to a strong management team or a clear and straightforward process may actually be due to one or more superheroes who are keeping everything together.
superheros make sure the job gets done, regardless of the circumstances. they force communication to occur, they aggressively remove roadblocks, and they make success happen in spite of the org chart and processes in place.
just like the superheroes of your favorite comic books, these superheroes also have secret identities. they’re the indestructible team lead. they’re the mild-mannered strategic communications specialist. they’re the eccentric (though maybe not billionaire) software designer.
if these superheroes should happen to go away, there’s no telling what might happen to your team or your entire organization. what was once a success could plunge into the lawlessness of miscommunication, information silos, slipping deadlines, and apathy.
so it’s up to you to dig deeper to uncover the true identities of these superheroes. it’s up to you to understand who is truly pushing your team forward. it’s up to you to decipher which processes are predicated on having a superhero in the loop keeping it all from falling apart.
your success depends on it.
one of the first signs of any organization’s demise is a lack of youthful prospects. it’s most readily apparent in sports when the core of the team grows past their prime and the minor league systems are sparse of potential superstars. production goes down, and the next available substitute isn’t capable of being an everyday player.
take stock in your organization. see how many potential superstars you still have, and—most importantly—count how many have already left. you’ll start to see the true value of your organization via one simple metric.
how old is your core? who do you have to replace them? and what do you do when everyone else is gone?
there is a lot of discussion lately surrounding marissa mayer’s decision to discontinue the work from home policy at yahoo!
people both for and against the decision have stated their case ad nauseum, so i won’t do that here. (for the record i support marissa’s decision.) but one thing i wanted to comment on are the comments on marissa having a nursery in her office. they claim the ban on working from home is an attack on working parents—mostly working mothers—and that it’s unfair that she gets to take care of her child while other yahoos can’t.
but think about your own organization. how many perks do the people above you in the hierarchy get?
company-issued smart phones?
the ability to expense certain items you can’t?
in any hierarchical structure, the people at the top get more than the people at the bottom. that’s part of what drives people to reach those upper echelons. bigger offices, fancier conference rooms, personal assistants. if you’re not going to storm the castle in disgust at your own organization’s leadership for taking advantage of opportunities that you don’t get, then perhaps we should be a little more lenient towards marissa mayer.
it’s just the perks of being a CEO.
image by vittonettophoto, flickr artist
it’s true. every team needs a superstar.
balance is important to a winning formula, and i think we all know that. people have to complement each other, make up for each others faults, and bring a certain set of skills to the table â€” even if those skills aren’t going to make many people stand up and take notice. you hear it many times, “someone has to do the work.”
but there is such a thing as having too much balance.
we’ve become enamored with utility players in our businesses. people that we feel we can take and throw into any situation and they’ll still produce dividends for us (and for our shareholders). we want everyone to be able to do everything. we’re even groomed as such, going all the way back into our childhoods and early adult lives.
image by NHLFlyers, official twitter handle of the philadelphia flyers
when your favorite sports team finds issues to work on, they spend more time on it in practice.
powerplay numbers down? you can bet that your favorite hockey team is going to spend more time in the umbrella during practice.
not winning the battles along the boards? eat your wheatiesÂ and have yourself a powerbar before you hit the ice, because we’re doing nothing but 2-on-2′s for a solid 15 minutes down in the corners.
sloppy line changes in the second period? get ready to play a lot of dump and chase and listen for your line to be called.
i think we’ve got the individual training down pretty well in industry. we have one day training events to introduce people to new concepts. we have 2 and 3 day seminars to teach solid fundamentals of what makes a good consultant. we have week long “boot camps” for certification training and exams. but what about the rest of your team?
image by wolfsavard, flickr artist
elephants are extremely interesting creatures. they can grow up to weigh 15,000 lbs, but still be afraid of a mouse. they’re massive creatures, and anything that large â€” you’d imagine â€” can have quite a bit of influence. they’ll shape their surroundings and modify their environment to suit them. if the fruit is too high, they’ll knock over the tree. if the water’s gone, they’ll dig a hole to find some more.
circuses are interesting in their own right. a collection of sights, sounds, and smells that you can’t find any place else. and with so many different performance acts, everything has to be perfectlyÂ choreographed â€” and the ringmaster is in charge of it all.
image by unclebumpy, flickr artist
i recently came across a post on wired.com’s science section about american bullfrogs and their leaping ability. Â in short: when in the wild, bullfrogs have a certain expectation of maximum leaping distance which scientists have previously measured at 4.3 meters. however, at a county fair in californiaâ€™s calaveras countyÂ their bullfrogs have been known to leap over 7 meters when involved in their frog jumping competitions. Â that’s quite an improvement!
in business, it seems everyone is focused on collaboration; on finding synergies and maximizing productivity. Â but what if we increasingly looked not towards collaboration on our teams, but towards competition? Â how would the game change then?