Not a feature but a bug. Why having only superstars in your team can be a disaster.

Read this to learn about well-rounded teams that can effectively collaborate and communicate. As an experienced team leader and builder, contact me to learn more about my services and how I can help you achieve better outcomes.

As a freelancer and a manager, I have worked with many companies and teams. Recently,  I talked to a CEO who built a data science team that consisted of several “wonder kids” who obtained University degrees before graduating high school. The CEO was very proud of them. However, he complained that they don’t deliver as expected. This made me realize that having only superstars is not a feature but a bug.

The fact is that most of us are average, even geniuses are average in most aspects. Richard Feynman, the Nobel laureate physicist, was also a painter, musician, and an excellent teacher, but he is unique. I, for example, tend to think of myself as an excellent generalizer, leader, and communicator. However, I need help with attention to detail and deep domain-specific knowledge. To work well, I need to have pedantic specialists in my team. Why? Because, on average, I’m average.

Most “geniuses” are extremely talented in one field but still need help in others. Many tend to be individual workers, meaning their team communication is often suboptimal. Additionally, the fact that the entire team is very young also means they need more expertise in project management, inter-team communication, business orientation, or even enough real-life experience. The result: a disaster. That company got a team of solo players who don’t communicate within the team, don’t communicate with other teams, and don’t deliver on time.

What do I suggest? They say that “A’s hire A’s”. However, this doesn’t mean that each “A person” must ace the same field. A good team needs an A generalizer, an A specialist, an A communicator, and an A business expert. If you only hire “A++ specialists,” you risk ending up with a group of individuals who are “C-” communicators.

As another CEO I consulted once told me, “genius developers can do 10x job. They also tend to enter rabbit holes, and if unattended, they can do 10x damage.” If you build a team, you cannot afford to have unbalanced expertise sets. 

The bottom line is to ensure your team is diverse in its capabilities. Hiring only superstars may seem like a good idea, but it can result in a lack of collaboration, communication, and the necessary skills to succeed as a team. A diverse team with various skills and expertise is essential for achieving better outcomes.

In conclusion, avoid falling into the trap of thinking that only superstars can make a great team. Instead, focus on creating a diverse team with various skills, and you’ll be surprised at how much your team can achieve.

By Boris Gorelik

Machine learning, data science and visualization

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