John Lennon was reluctant to team up with Paul McCartney when they first met. Despite all of McCartney’s obvious talent, Lennon worried about personality clashes, until he discovered how closely they were linked to their musical ideas. George Harrison was McCartney’s school friend, but he had to prove both his guitar skills and his maturity before he was invited to join the band. Ringo Starr was the last to join us. And he quickly realized that continued inclusion depended not only on his superior drumming skills, but also on the ‘wavelength’ of the group. Ringo notes: “I had to be, otherwise I wouldn’t have lasted. I had to join them as people as well as as a drummer.”
The origin story of The Beatles and their iconic success in the 1960s is more than just an anecdote about pop music. This is an eye-opening case study of building entrepreneurial teams and why paying attention to team building strategies pays off.
The biggest challenge new businesses face is putting together a founding team to execute an idea. It is also an issue that established organizations face, whether they hire, invest or partner. Who adds more value to the team? Someone who fill in the gaps or someone who fits in? Turns out the only correct answer is both.
It may seem obvious. Sure team leaders should recruit people who have aligned values and complementary skills.
But in the real world of small networks and tight deadlines where individuals with the perfect combination are hard to find, dream teams are hard to build. Entrepreneurs and project leaders generally make compromises, choosing one or the other.
They should not.
For upcoming research in the Academy of Management Journal, I have teamed up with Moran Lazar and Miriam Erez at Technion, Ella Miron-Spektor at INSEAD, and Gilad Chen and Brent Goldfarb at the University of Maryland to examine how founding team building strategies affect the success of new businesses. .
Here are three ideas from the research that can help passionate team leaders achieve scale and achieve their goal.
Strategies for finding resources and attracting similarity complement each other
Building anything from scratch – whether it’s a new business, a new product, or a rock’n roll band – requires not only having the right parts, but make them fit perfectly.
Founders who seek partners solely for resources often stray from their path, mired in conflict. And founders who seek partners based solely on interpersonal similarity and attraction often fail because their companies lack the depth and breadth of expertise needed.
A dual training strategy ensures that the will and skills of a team are aligned.
The search for resources allows the founding partners to bring different skills and expertise so that they have the necessary ingredients to create success. At the same time, interpersonal similarity and attraction aligns the goals and values of the workplace, which creates unity and reduces friction when different parts come together.
Dual Training Strategy Creates Stronger “Transactive Memory Systems”
The founding teams must make a myriad of key decisions, and quickly. They must constantly think about their ways of overcoming challenges and solving problems.
To do this, teams rely on transactive memory systems, i.e. a combined and cooperative knowledge between team members of who knows what, how to share knowledge and how to use the shared knowledge. to make decisions. Indeed, transactive memory systems represent a collective “hive mind”, allowing teams to “think” together as a unified entity rather than as a group of unconnected individuals.
Teams formed with a dual strategy have stronger transactive memory systems, which makes them better able to identify challenges, cope with uncertainties, and make decisions quickly and efficiently.
Creating something new is a process of trial and error. Differences of opinion are inevitable. Adam Grant notes such intellectual friction should not be seen as a threat or a relationship bug, but as an opportunity to learn. The dual training strategy creates teams able to optimize their in-depth knowledge due to high internal trust and frank communication. In doing so, they do not focus on who is right, but on what is right.
So the value of a dual training strategy lies in the precision, speed, and ease with which the founding members learn to work together, resolve differences of opinion, and resolve issues.
A dual training strategy offers a comparative advantage
Our research has shown that about one in ten startups use a dual training strategy. We have found this to be true both on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and in incubator environments.
This in itself sets the founding teams formed with a dual strategy apart from the others. Additionally, while the team spirit he builds may seem alchemical or ineffable, its measurable effects are evident.
On Kickstarter, for example, dual-formation strategy teams drew almost twice as much starting money as those who only used one or the other. Teams using a dual strategy were also three times more likely to be selected from competitors of business incubators.
Beyond our study, Paul Graham notes the emphasis Y-Combinator places on the chemistry of entrepreneurial teams. Y-Combinator has invested in Airbnb, although it did not rate their idea of room sharing very highly. Beyond their ingenuity, former college roommates Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk have proven their resilience and demonstrated their ability to work together with high goal alignment.
Separately, Graham also wrote about how the Y-Combinator co-founders came together using a dual training strategy, and how their own transactive memory systems allowed them to expertly assess technical skills and to use “their social radar”.
As decisions made during an organization’s formation phase lay the foundation for its future in a way that cannot be undone, founding teams have the most to learn – and gain – from this information. But they can also be applied to teams formed in established companies.
Great teams are hard to build. They are even more difficult to D-build from the rubble of a bad one.
Innovative and entrepreneurial teams have enough challenges to overcome. They don’t have to create their own. On the road to success, choosing between the search for resources and interpersonal similarity-attraction is not a compromise, it is a trap. As stated by the mechanics in the first Fram-Oil ad, you can pay now or pay later.
While it requires cognitive and emotional intelligence, using a dual training strategy is worth it, even if it takes a little longer.
In the meantime, team-builders can hum with Abbey Route and Revolver as they begin their search for the right partners.