In our pursuit of innovation and breakthrough ideas, it's easy to get caught up in the allure of individual talents and brilliant ideas. We often prioritize the IQ over the EQ, the intellect over the interpersonal dynamics. However, Catmull's wisdom shines a light on the critical importance of getting the team right as a necessary precursor to getting the ideas right.
Talented people are undoubtedly valuable, but their ability to work together as a team is what truly makes the difference. Even the smartest individuals can fall short of their potential if they are not effectively matched and do not work well together. It's not just about the skills and expertise of each team member, but how they interact and collaborate with one another that determines the success of a team. Just like in football, you can spend hundreds of millions of pounds but where individual talent alone is no guarantee for success.
As a leader, I have come to realize that it's better to focus on how a team is performing as a whole, rather than solely on the talents of the individuals within it. It's about creating a cohesive unit where each team member complements and enhances the strengths of others. It's about fostering a culture of collaboration, trust, and respect, where diverse perspectives are welcomed and encouraged.
Catmull's insight challenges the common misconception that ideas are the ultimate currency of creativity. While ideas are undoubtedly important, they are just the starting point. It's the people behind those ideas and their ability to work together that brings them to life and drives meaningful innovation. It's the chemistry among team members that fuels creativity and propels a team towards success.
"Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas."
Don't think that it's easy to do. It's far from it. Building a culture that supports this kind of thinking is extremely difficult. You'll make lots of mistakes, especially early in your company. I know this from experience, as I have made my fair share of mistakes along the way. Sometimes I wish I could go back and change things, to better explain and prove that I respect the people who work with us. It's not that I don't respect them, it's far from it. Those who know me know that I do respect everyone, but sometimes, due to cultural or age differences, respect can mean different things to me and to others.
We need to be humble and acknowledge that we are not infallible. We will make mistakes, and that's okay. What's important is that we learn from those mistakes and continuously strive to create a supportive and inclusive culture that fosters collaboration, creativity, and mutual respect among team members. It requires constant effort and introspection to ensure that everyone on the team feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.
Catmull's insight on the power of people and team dynamics over ideas is a timely reminder in the age of AI and automation. While technology can augment our capabilities, it's the human creativity and collaborative efforts that drive real innovation. Building a team that works well together and fosters a culture of respect, trust, and inclusivity is not easy, but it's crucial for unlocking the full potential of our collective creativity.
Let's learn from our mistakes, embrace the challenges, and prioritize people over ideas in our pursuit of meaningful and impactful innovation.