So that’s what makes a team?

So that’s what makes a team?
December 24, 2012 Derek Fournier

Have you ever woken up (figuratively) and found yourself among a group of people who are passionate, driven, intelligent, dependable and genuinely care about you and your common goals? Chances are the answer is “no” and that is the problem.

If you have read this blog for any period of time or have the misfortune of hearing one of my lectures on, “…how the hell can people expect to succeed nowadays when all they care about are metrics instead of people” that I pull from my dad’s old book of rants, you will know that I detest the way most managers do things nowadays. This reliance on metrics over observation transcends people management, and in the same way that people seem to struggle to remove objectivity from any decision process, new world managers have tried to choke the humanity out of building teams. The problem with that is that most teams are made up of, you guessed it, humans!

I am very fortunate. I have been able to work with some amazing people. In forming Plain Sight, one thing I did not anticipate was the chance to build a company that would house an amazing team. While labeled a “Group” since forever, Plain Sight had really been myself and some strategic partners. Well sometimes life just happens and you find chances presented to you. I believe I am starting to buy into the ideology that the people who are successful (not necessarily financially, but experimentally)  are the ones who sometimes step first and look later.

“Wait a minute! That seems dangerous!” exclaimed a random reader.

Sometimes risk avoidance is excessive. While I always claimed to love change and embrace risk, I did that in very controlled fashions. Recently and very organically I have come to know that some people I respect a great deal share a common goal of doing pretty amazing things for companies with a foundation in something simple.

Honesty. Clarity. Directness. The foundation of Plain Sight.

They have been working with me on their own, expending their own emotional and intellectual capital toward a common platform. I saw that but did not fully appreciate it until a few weeks ago. I started to think about it seriously when I received an email from a good friend and really bright guy. In the email he made a comment, “We only possess time and we all spend it at the same rate but I’ve spent some time better than other time …” (Attribution to Clyde Freestyle). He is an introspective guy but the essence of that phrase hit me as I thought about what is going on right here at Plain Sight.

A team is forming. Note the structure there. I did not say that I was forming a team. This organic formation of a team is really what you want to happen. Sure, your actions can help that process and from the department of crappy analogies to hammer home a point, diamonds formed in nature are sometimes priceless whereas flawless, lab created versions of the same freaking molecule are, let’s say, inexpensive by comparison.

Sometimes natural is more valuable (OK, I get it. That analogy might suck and I know there are a ton of ethical things around diamond mining that detract from the awesome power of the comparison but please see past that to my point and carry on.)

I think as leaders (I am no longer going to call you managers because if you have not figured out the difference yet and taken steps to enact the things you need to in order to transcend the paper pushing and ‘tax like’ manager role then you are reading the wrong blog) we need to become better than I was at identifying these organic shifts. Sometimes, when you become really good at this whole ‘leading’ thing, you can accelerate nature by adding ingredients. Your recipe list can include people, environments, opportunities, challenges but the thing they have in common is that they are all part of a great recipe (analogy alert).

I have noticed the best cooks can just cook without rigid adherence to rules. Quite often their measurements are vague and instructions lack specificity. That level of skill comes with experience, practice and confidence. Your recipe for a great team is the same, so stop trying to find a perfect how-to in a book on Amazon.com (or even here).  Realize that you have to get your hands dirty and try some things and sometimes, when you least expect it, you will taste something and realize it is really special. When that happens, you will know you have found the recipe.

I think we are getting close and I hope to share this really interesting process with you along the way and genuinely thank the people allowing me to participate.

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