Unlikely victory is a familiar story
It’s the premise of almost every famous sports story: A new coach inspires a ragtag group of players to unify and overcome a team that was thought to be superior. Leading up to the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Soviet national hockey team was thought to be invincible, having won five out of the last six gold medals and fresh off a dominating win against the NHL All Stars. The American team was a bunch of college kids, but coach Herb Brooks had a strategy. He set out to create a new culture within the team and form a band of brothers who were willing to push themselves to the limits for their teammates. The strategy worked and the amateur American team prevailed in what is now known as the Miracle on Ice – a tribute to the power of culture to outmatch individual talent.
The Dream Team caught sleeping
Twelve years later, in a pre-Olympics tune-up match, a cohesive team of college kids challenged the so-called Dream Team on the basketball court. On that day, a disciplined group of little–known college players beat a cohort of NBA superstars that included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley. It was once again a reminder of the power of great teams, unified by a winning culture, to beat great individuals; a reminder that a group can be greater than the sum of its parts (Aristotle’s principle)
The ideal, of course, is to build a great team from a foundation of great individual talent but the principle still remains, and it applies to every discipline: the outcome of a group effort is highly influenced by the chemistry of the group. Management guru, Peter Drucker, probably put it best when he said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
In 1992, the Dream Team learned that lesson from an embarrassing defeat and they went on to win the gold medal. Businesses need to learn the same lesson and the pressures of economic uncertainty only underscore the need to do so.
How to develop a great culture and a winning team
So how can businesses build great creative and technical teams quickly in order to meet their goals? Successful teams are a function of experience together and culture, and both take time to build. Wayne Gretzky famously said, “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Don’t miss the fine print in that statement. You can’t anticipate where the puck is going without the chemistry that comes from experience with the team, and there is no shortcut.
However, there is an express lane. A series of recent reports from Gartner and Forrester, including this one, highlight the increased demand for digital transformation due to the COVID-19 recession. They say companies ought to focus existing teams on core capabilities while outsourcing innovation and transformation to trusted partners. Experts understand more than ever that team experience and the culture that supports innovation is difficult to build, but easier, faster, and cheaper to augment through partners.
People often think they can build a better team on their own, but it’s harder than it looks, especially in this difficult business environment. If you really want to be where the puck is going, you need to hire pros who have worked together for a long time; a team that already has chemistry and a good culture. The success of your product depends on it.
Even if your end goal is to grow in-house, remember the advice of consultants and analysts. Start by hiring a team that’s done it before and watch how they do it. Then use that information to expand your own team…or don’t, if your partner has the talent and scale. It’s faster, lower risk, and you get a better result (cost savings is just the icing). It’s the best way to achieve key digital transformation priorities and it’s the new normal.
So how can we help you right now? Let’s connect. We have a great culture and an experienced team ready to go.