High Performing Teams are like Chocolate Brownies (Kind of)

Here’s my best recipe for chocolate brownies: 3 eggs beaten, add 1/2 cup of canola oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 1/3 cup sugar and beat well. Blend in 1/2 cocoa then 1 1/4 cup flour. Mix well and add about 1/3 cup of pecan halves. Then pour into an oiled glass 9″ pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 24 minutes. Cool slightly, dust the top with powdered sugar, and eat them warm. They’re great! (Just don’t eat too many)

How are they like teams? Well, the wonderful combination of fat, eggs, sugar, cocoa, flour, and nuts make a yummy treat that surpasses any 1 or 2 of them by themselves.  It’s the unique combination of very different foods that create something very unlike any single ingredient.  Try eating any one alone and I prove my point!

High performing teams are a wonderful combination of people with very different skills and abilities who combine to make something special.  But few teams intentionally combine people like that.  Most managers are tempted to hire people with a very narrow criteria – people like themselves.  They think they can do fine with that philosophy. The truth is they just can’t get extraordinary results when everybody is exactly like them.  They think they’re making brownies and they end up with noodles or chocolate candy or scrambled eggs!

I can’t blame them.  I’m also tempted to team up with people like myself and enjoy the comfort I have with like-minded individuals.  It’s uncomfortable to work with people who communicate and think differently than I do.  And if you’re the boss, why bother!?  Who needs the stress and miscommunications that come from hiring like that?  All we need are talented, ethical, hard-working people, right?  Who needs people who are…different?

Well, if you want good brownies you need to combine some unlike ingredients.  Cocoa doesn’t really want to blend with that egg/sugar/vanilla mixture.  It resists.  Then when adding the flour there’s more resistance.  Keep stirring!  When it heats up, don’t give up!

Have the courage and wisdom to assemble teams that combine people who are skilled but very different.  Don’t trust the results that come from just your type.  That will limit your success.  Adding different ingredients may be a difficult task, but your results will reward your patience and persistence.  Enjoy!


P.S.  If you ever want to talk about high performing teams, give me a call.  If you give me some notice, I’ll bring the brownies.

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