Featured, Leadership

Building Teams…just like making Granola?

granola_moundAh Granola.

That wonderful treat consisting of oats, nuts, honey and other assorted goodies like berries, bananas, chocolate chips, raisins etc etc. Additionally, granola can be a snack, a meal or a dessert…it truly is a force to be reckoned with.

To make granola, you don’t need any special ‘tools’ or appliances. You just need to the ingredients and a simple recipe. Take Oats. Roast them. Add ‘stuff’. Enjoy.

Each person’s recipe is going to be different and everyone has their own idea of what ‘good’ granola is but at the end of the day, it starts with the same basic ingredients. The process might be different and the final outcome may be slightly different but everyone starts with oats and everyone ends with granola. It may be great granola or it may be just so-so…the outcome depends on a lot of things; ingredients, preparation, cooking/baking skills, recipe development, storage, intended use, etc. The outcome also depends a lot on the cook themselves. Each cook is different and has a different skill set in the kitchen..some people can cook really well while others can burn water on the stove.

Can the same be said for building teams? Can you use a ‘recipe’ to build good teams and have it come out ‘right’ every time?

The ingredients are the same everywhere. You start with people. But you don’t always end up with teams. Sometimes, you end up with people who work together and sometimes you end up with extremely high performing teams.

What’s the difference between the teams that work well and those that don’t? Is it as simple as hiring the best people? Or can you pick average people and turn them into great teams? Or…is there a little bit of ‘magic’ involved in making good teams?

Building and developing a good team is part science and part art and maybe even part luck. You can hire the best people and follow the ‘recipe’ for building high performance teams and still end up with an average team…or worse…a team that doesn’t perform at all.

In my experience with building and managing teams, the ‘recipe’ works just fine…as long as you know how to tweak it for your team and your organization. Recipes are great starting points, but they aren’t always meant to be the only way to do things. Building great teams required hard work, good people, a general sense of purpose within the team, an understanding of the overall strategy of the team/organization and a little luck.

As I said before, To make granola you start with oats, nuts and honey…follow the recipe and you’ll get granola. It may not be that great, but it is granola by definition. You can buy the world’s best oats and nuts and use the ‘world champion’ recipe, but if you can’t cook worth a darn, you might just end up with granola that tastes like dirt. Or..you might end up with the best tasting snack you’ve ever had.

To build great teams, hire great people. Give them challenges. Treat them right and lead them well. Help them understand the drivers for your business and team and make sure they understand their place within the organizational strategy. Learn to change things up when needed while building and leading your team and with some hard work and some luck, you might just be able to build a great team.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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11 years ago

I agree .. building great teams besides various other factors you mentioned (giving challenges, treat them well, make them understand the vision etc), requires a bit of luck as well !!