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In Silicon Valley, when considering an investment in a startup, most venture capital partners say this,” Give me a great team with a decent or even mediocre idea and they will figure it out. A weak team with a great idea is a recipe for disaster.” They invest in the startup team. And they look for a high level of knowledge and creativity (problem solving) among the team members and then they gauge the team’s urgency of their “mission.” In other words, has the team bought into the mission, are they capable of completing the mission and are they committed to moving as fast as possible to launch their startup and take market share?
Why do you want to have a highly creative team with a sense of mission in your startup? Because nothing will go absolutely according to plan. Your team will have to adapt, pivot, handle problems and opportunities on the fly. The best startups are organized chaos. It’s like being on Toads Wild Ride at Disney. You know the ride your on, you kind of know how it ends and yet, you are still careening all over the place.
In a startup, you want a high level of urgency. It helps fuel the culture and reinforces the mission. If you were on the original Shopify startup team, you want to build, test, launch and improve the platform on the fly. Why? You know there is limited window of opportunity in the marketplace and you want to establish a leadership position as soon as possible because competitors are coming. Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn once said, ““If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”
Why are some teams creative and actually push for innovative breakthroughs and why do others go nowhere? Urgency and capability. A talented and creative team with a limited timeframe and looming deadline gets things done with a sense of urgency. In other words, a team with no deadline or sense of mission tends to become lazy and meandering.
Let’s look at the four types of teams and the potential of their success based on the “urgency” of their mission and the creative makeup of the team:
- Cruise control mission: Absolutely the worst one for potential innovation. There is a low amount of pressure to get anything done and you can have a team with low creativity aspirations.
- The daily grind mission: This one is marginally better than the previous one but the difference is the pressure is high on the team to perform perhaps by a certain deadline. The problem is that the team is not very creative, talent-wise, so they feel the pressure but don’t know how to solve problems. So, they tend to stand still and grind in place.
- The journey mission: This team actually has a high amount of creativity which is awesome but they have low pressure to perform, no real deadline, no end in sight for the project, so they tend to meander and wander around. Several creative starts and stops with no real destination.
- The get there now mission: This team, with a high amount of creativity and a high pressure deadline, has the highest potential to be both creative and innovative. They may have limited time and resources but they are highly creative, can pivot if necessary, and when facing an imposing deadline, they figure out how to get it done. This is the best possible team; they are highly creative and perform best facing a high amount of pressure and a deadline.
Invariably, every team will face challenges and problems. And in order to solve those problems or overcome a challenge, they will need to collectively understand the real problem and then generate creative solutions to solve the problem. To do that they need to have a high degree of creativity, problem solving skills and have a mission that is almost impossible.
If you would like more insights on creativity, read Simply Brilliant by Bernhard Schroeder.
April 1, 2019 at 01:01PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs