The Secrets of the World's Best Teams
The secrets of the world's best teams, and I have a few charts that I wanna show. But first, I'm just gonna tee up the underlying principle of this section with a little video of a recent interview I did where the interviewer punked me. You'll see. Okay, yes, teams are made of people. Kind of like Soylent is made out of people. When we talk about teamwork, sometimes the discussion can start to sound like individuals are not part of it. But, teamwork, for teams to be breakthrough teams, or kind of the teams we've been talking about that exceed the sums of their parts, every member of the team needs to have certain attributes in order to make the equation work, and so teamwork actually becomes a very individual thing. Also, anything that we're working on, in our lives or in our work, whenever we're working on solving problems or trying to be creative, we ought to think of it not as a solo project or a solo process, but that anyone can be part of our team and we need to build a team aroun...
d us, whether sort of this traditional, we're all sitting down together kind of thing. So we have this myth that great creative geniuses are sort of like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, where Dick Van Dyke goes into the garage, we hear a bunch of noise, and he comes out with a flying car. And first of all, that never happens. Second of all, we discount the fact that someone built the original car. That someone developed the science and the engineering and the math that he used to make the flying car, and that without his kids wanting some sort of magic in their life and pushing him, he would have been still kind of depressed and struggling as an inventor. Anyone doesn't know the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you should definitely watch it. But nothing great is done alone. So we've been talking about how cognitive diversity, different kinds of ideas, heuristics and perspectives, when they combine that gives us the potential energy to exceed the sum of our parts, do great things to find the highest mountain peaks. And that we need that cognitive diversity to create friction and these to actually smash together just like atoms in a nuclear reactor in order to create the heat that helps us move forward. So, the question now, becomes what kinds of people are the best at harnessing cognitive diversity and cognitive friction? What are the individual attributes of people beyond the different things we're bringing mentally, but what do we need to have in common in order to do this? So, here's chart number one. The best relationship that you could have, with a couple of people collaborating, I think is this. Across these axes you have, high amount of personal support, high amount of personal conflict, high amount of intellectual support, high amount of intellectual conflict. Most of the time, we think that a partnership or group ought to be here. We need to support each other personally and support each other's ideas. Kind of like those brainstorming groups that don't do too well. The worst place that we can be is to support each other intellectually but then have personal conflict. It's sort of like when you have feuds, basically. You agree and you get along, but somehow, you wanna kill each other. If you have intellectual conflict and personal conflict, that's when we have war. The most interesting is if you can have a relationship where everyone in the group knows that you have personal emotional support, that no matter what, that person is safe, so that then you can express any idea, any thought, and you can actually have those ideas and thoughts do battle. So this is just sort of a sum up, almost, of what we've been talking about, this idea of personal support, loving each other, despite disagreeing. Super powerful. So progressing a little bit, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, talks about how they need to be stubborn on vision and flexible on strategy, which is cool sounding on the face of it, but also on the face of it, it's a little counter-intuitive. A lot of companies are stubborn on vision, they know where they wanna go, and they're stubborn on strategy. They're saying, "This is how we're gonna get there "and this is what we're gonna do." There's a lot of talk about stoicism and how great leaders are the kinds of people that never back down and never flinch and never change course. Turns out that's not a good strategy for getting somewhere in a company. What I love about what Bezos from Amazon says, to be, know where you're tryin' to get to, but you allow yourself the flexibility to find different paths. That's super powerful. Now if you're flexible on the vision and you're stubborn on the strategy, that's kind of the most ridiculous place to be. You don't know where you're going, but you're not gonna change. That's a recipe for disaster. This one, being flexible on strategy and flexible on vision is where a lot of startups, a lot of people that I know that are trying to build businesses end up. You find something that's interesting, and you chase after it, and you'll do anything to get there, but then you're not really invested in what you're tryin' to get to. This combination of being stubborn on vision, knowing what your purpose is, where you're trying to go, but willing to do whatever to get there is super interesting. Third and final chart. People who have the highest potential in their collaborations are both willing to change and willing to fight. Kind of similar to what I showed in the last few slides, but people who are willing to change but not willing to fight are people that have all the potential but don't unlock the cognitive friction. People who are not willing to fight and not willing to change, that's kind of the worst. This is passive-aggressive people, or people who are nervous. People who are willing to fight, and not willing to change. Once again, I'll just dis Congress. What's the point of a fight, an intellectual fight, if no one's gonna change their mind? If you're willing to fight and willing to change that's the highest potential collaboration. So if you think about it in this formula, this equation that we've been talking about, you can have all of the cognitive friction, you can have all of the ingredients, but then if no one does anything, you're not moving forward, you're staying still. That's not good. So do you notice a pattern? Inside these three charts, inside all of what we've been talking about, is this sort of question mark, or this obvious thing now, which is that in order for any of this to work, we need to have a degree of open-mindedness. So what is open-mindedness exactly? How do we define that? There's different definitions that people have. The best definition, I think, for open-mindedness is this. Openness to new experiences, plus something called intellectual humility. Openness to experience is like being willing to try a new ice cream flavor. If you're willing to try a new ice cream flavor, but you're not willing to admit that it's great or change your mind about it or do something, you're not really open-minded. A lot of people think they're open-minded cause they're willing to try things, but they would never actually change. Intellectual humility is this virtue that, well, Aristotle said that a virtue is something that sits in between two vices or two excesses. So if we could say that one vice is stubbornness, never being willing to change our mind about something. We said another vice is gullibility, being too willing to change and just waffling in every sort of gasp of wind that's out there. Intellectual humility is the thing that's in the middle. Being willing to change, but knowing when you shouldn't. And there's a few dimensions of it. When you combine that with being open to trying things, this gives us a picture of open-mindedness, and I will get into this, but professors who have recently developed the most robust research on intellectual humility that I worked with on some projects, or worked with their research and then interviewed them, basically said that this is the best definition that they've seen in the psychology community for what open-mindedness is. It turns out that psychologists and philosophers have argued about open-mindedness for a long time, about what exactly it is, and how to get better at it, and there's a reason for that.