Kathy Sierra stands up for the power of one.
I’m not dissing teams–our books are all collaborative efforts and far better because of it. And we consider ourselves to be on a team that includes our publisher O’Reilly. It’s not teams that are the problem, it’s the rabid insistence on teamwork. Group think. Committee decisions.
Yeah, too often the plea for teamwork is a confusing demand for a kind of bland conformity. And like Kathy I am bored of that mantra about “There is no I in team”, often uttered by egomaniacs. (I know an achingly funny true story about that phrase being used by a top manager who truly got his comeuppance, but it is so vulgar I dare not blog it here. Skype me and I’ll tell you though.)
I could give an equally effusive raspberry to the idea of the solitary genius, the passionate misfit with no clothes sense and an unusual take on ideas of personal hygience. The old artist-in-a-garret model of creativity. That’s not altogether accurate, either.
Isaac Newton famously admitted that he stood on the shoulders of giants. (Though it may be that this was actually a wicked jibe at this close rival who happened to be a very short man).
This is not an either/or debate. What most excites me is seeing teams that function way above the dull consensus, where diversity leads to thinking that is beyond the capacity of one person. When the ideas happen between people and no-one’s fighting to own them personally. I think that’s what Kathy points to in her conclusion
I do believe that a team can change the world, but it’s still a team of individuals supporting each other in being brave, strong, innovative, and passionate.
I might stick a “com” in front of passionate though. That’s an under-rated quality in organisational life.