People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17

Great advancements are often attributed to exceptional
individuals-scientific geniuses, catalytic political leaders,
extraordinary entrepreneurs. While such individuals are
certainly important, in our experience these leaders more
often than not rely on the collective intelligence of a closely-knit team to turn their vision into reality.
The team is the real hero here. The work of achieving
a big goal in the face of severely limited resources and
knowledge necessarily extends beyond any single individual's capacity. Such a task requires what Jon Katzenbach and
Douglas Smith call a "real team"-a fortuitous combination
of skills, perspectives and experiences of a set of accomplished individuals within a real-time collective effort.2 Since
there are significant process costs to aligning large groups
of people, such a group has to be kept fairly small-J.
Richard Hackman's recommendation is that teams comprise
a low number of people for the optimal combination of
maximum diversity with minimal process losses.3
In our work shaping entrepreneurial endeavors, we've
repeatedly experienced the importance of teaming well.
Deep insights, industry-defining innovations, and well-timed
strategies are powerless if they aren't executed by a team capable of productively confronting the uncertainty, tension,
and promise that is the essence of any novel venture.
In this article, we distill five balancing acts that ignition teams need to navigate, which together can spell the
difference between breakdown and breakthrough. Multifaceted problem-solving requires a diverse team with a common
commitment. Diverse skills and perspectives don't create value
by themselves. The team needs an effective discipline to
achieve collective intelligence without groupthink. This discipline
can be drawn from a leader acting as the "master integrator," a schema that orchestrates the team toward the goal
(e.g., design sprints), or a process that creates enough iterative loops for the team to refine their way to a big advance.
Whatever the source of discipline, ignition teams need to
stay at the intersection of bias for action but room for reflection,
neither paralyzed by the gap between what they know how
to do and what they need to achieve, nor getting distracted from the real goal by frantic doing. Through the stress
and challenge of the work, the ignition team must sustain
dynamic cohesion, uniting behind the goal without letting
the wrong kind of harmony blunt their edge. As the team
builds the partnerships outside its circle needed to achieve
big goals, they need to lean out and lean in, metabolizing
opportunities to be seized and external conditions to be surmounted, while persevering as a team to break through the
dilemmas that those competing demands and constraints
present.

1. Diverse Team with a Common Commitment
Ignition teams face problems that can't be solved through
a single way of thinking. It is critical to select people that
bring a diverse set of strengths, perspectives, and experiences to bear on the challenge at hand. Like any traveler
preparing for a trip into the unknown, ignition teams need
a diverse set of general tools to survive and thrive.
Most creative ideas represent the fusion of two or more

precedents that already exist but haven't been brought
together before in pursuing a specific outcome. The broader the collective experience set, the more combinatorial
potential exists in the intersections between team members.
Scott Page, who applies the science of complex adaptive
systems to the study of diversity, describes five types of cognitive diversity that team members can bring to bear: information, knowledge, heuristics, representations, and models/
frameworks.4 For teams that maximize cognitive diversity
across these dimensions, chances of finding a path forward
increase exponentially.
While it would be easy to conclude that maximizing
diversity is the right approach, diversity also requires increased time spent on alignment, communication, and negotiation-and too much diversity can make it hard for the
team to cohere in the right way. It's key to balance cognitive
diversity with strong shared commitments, values, and a
level of personality fit that ensures productive relationships.
Testing for this strong shared commitment is often done

Ignition teams pursue big goals beyond
their initial reach, crafting a path where
none yet exists.
best just by evaluating a member's desire to join an ignition
team, since the inherent risk also serves as an excellent test
of the depth of commitment.
When a leading apparel company asked us to help them
build a team that would shape and lead their efforts to
become design-centric, we approached this task as a team
selection problem. We helped select a team strongly committed to design and innovation and sought demonstration
of their willingness to put in time and effort into this work
at the expense of many other activities they had as senior
leaders in their organizations. We carefully selected people
from across different brands, different design and innovation disciplines, as well as senior business leaders across a
set of functions. This team rapidly identified key challenges,
shaped a path forward, and built organizational momentum, drawing on a holistic understanding of design imperatives and organizational context in a way that was both
aspirational and realistic.

2. Collective Intelligence Without Groupthink

The right diversity doesn't generate value in itself; it simply
supplies the ingredients. In some contexts, leaders can apply
a "Swiss army knife" approach, encountering challenges
sequentially and choosing the right blade for each by calling
upon a team member with the requisite skills and knowledge.
Ignition teams aren't generally like this. The kind of expertise
most relevant at any given point may not be obvious. Different
strengths and perspectives may need to be integrated to deliver something more than the sum of their parts.
Collective intelligence, to build on a useful formulation
VOLUME 41 | ISSUE 2 | SPRING 2018

17



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
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