An experienced entrepreneur once told me, “The whole art of starting and maintaining a business lies in the management of people. You can have a good idea, but a bad team can screw it up. If you have not so good an idea but have a good team, you can do wonders.” It’s been said that collective decisions by teams tend to be more effective than one person who makes the decision without consulting others. But, at times, teams can make a poor collective decision. From the entrepreneur to venture capital, we will now look at the darker aspect of teams.
We often hear about how successful teams overcome the obstacles they face in their start-up. This is one reason you should be a believer in teams. There is a chance that you do not be a fan of my ideas; listen to me. There are four fundamental aspects of a company, including team concept, business model, and cash. For most business owners, cash is the king. But, not all of us have access to the kind of having enough cash to enable us to run our own business. We then take a look at the concept of the company’s business concept. Whatever great they may be but they need a strong team to implement them. Therefore, teamwork is an essential aspect of any startup. Of course, the second issue that is confronted by many Singaporean entrepreneurs is nobody is keen to join startups because of the absence of or a reduction in compensation and benefits. Another problem is the fact that when a Singaporean is employed by an organization, the managers are able to make their lives more difficult by making them feel pressured to leave. There’s no win-win scenario for the Singaporeans. Naturally, likewise declare, “The pasture is often greener on the other side.”
Although we often talk about the benefits of having a solid team, however, we must consider everything from another side. This will allow us to gain an accurate perspective on how an excellent team could be slowly deteriorating and eventually turn into a poor one. There aren’t any right or wrongs with teams; however, it is essential to have controls and checks. Therefore, we have to expose our dark sides of teams:
1. A great team is well-planned; however, they must implement similarly as they plan.
This is what I refer to as teams that are paper-based. People love planning as it allows them to establish the strategic direction and take responsibility for the company. But, there is a possibility that the people in a great team are seen in the role of planners rather than those who follow through with the plan. In the beginning, there is no room for the team members to make plans. It is essential to remember to be active. I’ve seen great plan-of-action by entrepreneurs who have their first ventures, but when they have to carry out their plans, they begin to make mistakes. The majority of the time, the reason is that they were relying on too many assumptions when writing the business plans they created. They don’t realize this assumption is the cause of all errors. Their roles and responsibilities in executing the plan are not tied to the original business plan. In this case, they’re not an effective team at all. A great team is able to adapt to two roles that are beneficial in both the execution and planning phases of their company.
2. A great team could make a unanimous decision.
However, someone must play the role of the devil’s advocate. If everyone on the team is saying yes to every decision, they’ll end up making a poor decision. What is the reason? The concept is called creative tension, in which a group is divided in two, and they each counter-argue against each other until they reach a consensus to choose the most effective method of action. It is important to note that I am using “optimal” instead of “correct.” When we discuss an agreement with another company, it is essential to conduct some due diligence about the other organization. Don’t jump to conclusions too soon, as your business might not be in need of a partnership. When we solicit funds through a venture capitalist, we should review those terms and conditions contained in this contract attentively. Don’t sign the contract when you and your entire team become employees of the company that is a venture capitalist. They might provide you with more cash, but you have to be able to discern the motives behind these deals. If your team is solid and able, they will be able to tolerate those who are playing devil’s advocate and not be an antagonist to the cause of the team.
3. A team that is successful may have a few errors; however, they need to overcome the mistakes:
Sometimes, excellent teams fail when they fail. They blame each other without thinking about what the next steps will be to ensure a successful comeback. Human nature is to blame others for the demise of a task. A well-functioning team has a greater chance of assigning blame as they have higher expectations of themselves to achieve. But the failures are normal, and the primary reason behind the majority of teams that fail to recover is their inability to organize their efforts to be back in the game.
4. A strong team is able to resist any temptation (cash or egos, power, and money).
All it needs is ego, money, and power to break the good team. There are many stories about power struggles within companies where there is a conflict between two or a handful of individuals. The conflict of egos is typically destructive to teams. If you are looking to see an illustration of a successful team, consider the team that was formed by Microsoft (Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Balmer) against the earlier Apple team Apple (Jobs, Wozniak, Markkula). The team that was early in Microsoft has been able to transition to a stronger team, compared to the earlier Apple team, which caused Jobs to be fired and the company to slip into uncertainty for ten years. This is the point where trust and a win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win must be developed among the founders in order to guarantee the highest chance of success for the team taking big leaps in the near future. In the event that they fail, they’ll succumb to the darkness and eventually fall to pieces.
Good teams aren’t really vulnerable because they are made of humans just like us. Be aware and prepared for the worst. Try your best not to let a great team collapse.