The Need:

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Even the best ideas fail without the people needed to execute the plan. Every startup cannot do without the right team, made of the right people, in the right places (read: doing what they’re best at— not only what they love), with a mission, a game plan, and the flexibility to roll with the punches.


The Conflict:


Two possibilities. 1) The people you want aren’t there. They exist of course, but either you can’t pay them enough, get them excited enough about the idea, get their attention, or get them to commit. At the end of the day, the round table has no knights.

2) (Arguably the harder problem to fix) The team is about as dysfunctional as the country’s policy on pot. Somehow it sticks together. Barely. No one knows how. But it does. The conflict happens when— as the team slowly trudges along— they cause more pain to you, your partners, or worse, your customer, than actual benefit. You can see the boil about to burst when different jobs are done by people without the expertise, accountability is non-existent and deadlines aren’t met, and every person is following their own quest for the holy grail, the holy trinity, and all you can say is “holy f*@%.”


The Question:

What defines a strong team, how can I put them together, and most importantly, how can I lead them to accomplish great things?


The Solution:


Everything you hear will revolve around achieving one thing- MECE (a term all McKinseyite consultants know). It means Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive— and the logic is simple. You will not have all the skills. Your partner will not have all the skills. That guy who wants to help will not have all the skills. But get the bricklayer, the architect and the painter together and you have the White House.

This is what serial entrepreneur and Stanford consulting professor Steve Blank calls the hackerthe hustler, and the designer. The three, 100% can-not-do-without, brains of the execution.

Blank sees the big picture this way. “The hacker should be someone who’s great at writing code – better than anybody else, and the hustler tends to be the CEO person, with the ‘reality distortion field’, who can run experiments… The reality distortion field makes people believe an insane idea might come true, and they’re willing to quit their jobs and join you on a quest.” The designer then leads the charge for a constantly improving user experience.
Regardless of industry or idea the fundamental message rings true: the more complimentary skills, the more ground and ideas can be covered together.


Leading Seal Team Six:


Ultimately, your job as a leader demands you wear a different hat than a technician. Your people are your biggest asset. When put in the right place, where skill matches passion, they experience what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (say that name three times fast) calls flow. When the right challenge, structure to achieve, and intellectual space gives them the perfect incubator to push their creativity forward— in pursuit of invention and radical openness.

Your mission, should you wish you accept, is to make damn sure your team flows.