Building a Team

Each morning I spend a significant portion of time catching up on my RSS feeds. Recently, I've taken to adding feeds specific to my favorite sports team, Tottenham Hotspur. While I'd normally refrain from posting something to do with Tottenham here, I saw something this morning that has a great deal of resonance in both life and the technology industry. Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, had this to say when discussing the various successes the team has enjoyed in recent months:

Spurs are not third in the Premier League because someone has walked through the door at White Hart Lane and slapped a bundle of money on my desk.

Without delving into the broad context of Redknapp's statement, the general sentiment is clear: having a huge amount of spending money does not ensure success. Not only is that an important lesson in sport, but it is also an important fact to be cognizant of in life in general.

Throwing bundles of money at top flight players undercuts the heart and soul of a team, rendering any success as skin deep, at best. Victory is certainly something to strive for, but if it comes at the cost of the cohesive spirit of your team, then what has truly been achieved?

When you develop a group of friends, you do so without cognitive planning. You don't look at someone you perceive as being of a higher or lower social standing and strategically attempt to rope them into your sphere of friends. Instead, it is a fundamentally natural and fairly uncontrollable process. If you were to unnaturally socialize with and incorporate someone into your life, the connection can only exist as a hollow and meaningless -- something I would assume most would prefer to avoid.

The same goes for building a team. Just because you have the latitude to lure droves of big name individuals does not mean it's in the best interest of your team, your business, and any prospective successes you might be targeting.

Building a team should not be based upon picking those perceived as "the best," it is a matter of finding people complimentary to the environment and spirit that you choose to engender in your business. Simply plucking successful individuals from other sources and dropping them into your team is not a formula for deep-seated success.

You often hear of purported "dream teams" in technology, but their end products are often lifeless and forgotten. Consider Color. Having gathered an astounding team, spent hundreds of thousands on a domain, and received millions in investment funds, the startup amounted to extraordinarily little. Meanwhile, naturally developed startups in the same sphere have found overwhelming success. Instagram, for instance, began comparatively humbly and is now enjoying exponential growth and popularity.

Any attempt to forego initial growing pains by hiring big names, and accordingly gathering enormous backing, is flawed. Those pains are of the utmost importance in developing integrity and familial passion for a project. Moreover, playing to the egos of many does little to foster an environment in which the qualities of the many may compliment and selflessly further the goal of the group, rather than the individual.

While Tottenham might squander their successes at the top of the Premiership, you cannot question the sense of identity, support, and passion that those players have developed. Earning far less than many of their rivals, playing exciting and innovative football, and defying expectations, Tottenham are a far more intriguing and compelling sight than most other teams in their position. Perhaps some players will leave one day, but Tottenham's integrity and image will not waver. Having demonstrated heart and ability, Tottenham have become a reminder of the true essence of teamwork, and that is certainly no small accomplishment.

That is an important thing to comprehend, to carry in life, and to implement at every possible moment you can.