Google takes pride in its A-teams, assembled with top scientists, each with the most specialized knowledge and able to throw down one cutting-edge idea after another. Its data analysis revealed, however, that the company’s most important and productive new ideas come from B-teams comprised of employees who don’t always have to be the smartest people in the room. The Washington Post, December 20, 2017, The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students.
When I was in the Air Force for my 20 years, I always felt like the software/IT smart guy in any group. When I retired and entered the commercial field I quickly realized that I was rarely the smart guy in technology but I soon discovered, to my surprise, that I was still the smart guy in managing software intensive teams, projects, and organizations.
“Don’t always have to be the smartest people in the room.”
My observation is that the truly “smart people” are often not smart in those conventional things we think they need to be smart in. Instead, they are smart in those things that we need to be smart in but don’t yet know it. Add to that my other observation, also observed in the Google study, which was that the A-team was often not our best source of new ideas or innovations, but instead it was the B-teams.
A-teams, I’ve also observed, were too often populated by individuals better at looking and sounding good than at actually doing innovative work. While in the commercial world my management experience played the biggest role in my successes, it was still my technology knowledge that allowed me to lead these teams of smart people. Our break-outs were almost always from our B-teams while our A-team stuck to what had been successful in the past.
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Are you looking to all your teams, not just the acknowledged A-team, to provide new and innovative ideas and successful projects?