What’s in the Archives…

kinnon —  February 21, 2006 — Leave a comment

…of the blogosphere’s collective intelligence.

I was going through some emails from this time last year and came across a post of Kathy Sierra’s that I’d sent to Imbi. (I seem to be on a bit of a CPU bent this week.) The post was “The Power of One.”

Purple Cows just don’t usually come from teams working together to reach a solution. Purple Cows come from the wild-ass idea one guy had in the shower. That doesn’t mean he can’t be part of a team, but the more unusual an idea is, the more resistance it will get from a group, and that’s often enough to suck the life out of an idea. Or it goes from being a purple cow to one that’s merely a slightly darker shade of brown.

I’m not dissing teams–our books are all collaborative efforts, and far better because of it. And we consider ourselves to be on a team that includes our publisher O’Reilly. It’s not teams that are the problem, it’s the rabid insistence on teamwork. Group think. Committee decisions.

Most truly remarkable ideas did not come from teamwork. Most truly brave decisions were not made through teamwork. The team’s role should be to act as a supportive environment for a collection of individuals. People with their own unique voice, ideas, thoughts, perspectives. A team should be there to encourage one another to pursue the wild ass ideas, not get in lock step to keep everything cheery and pleasant.

I simply don’t buy into the “none of us is as good as all of us” as fact. While it’s often true, it’s just as often not. There are times when you can and should step back and say, “Not only am I as good as all of us, I’m actually better at this particular thing, because the entire team is headed in the wrong direction, and there’s too much inertia to get the whole damn team to turn around at the same time.” Obviously a manager doesn’t want total anarchy and chaos from each individual thinking their idea rules and everybody else is an idiot, but somewhere there’s a balance, and the heavy emphasis on teamwork/teamplayer-ness is tipped way too far in the non-individual direction.

I consider “There’s no ‘I’ in Team” to be terribly depressing. It sounds, in fact, just like what the Borg said on Star Trek. There is most definitely an “I” in any team I’m on. I have value in, and out, of a team. I will not surrender my passion in order to be a team player. And any team who doesn’t value that isn’t a team I want to be part of. I do believe that a team can change the world, but it’s still a team of individuals supporting each other in being brave, strong, innovative, and passionate.

There is an “I” in PASSION. (Most emphasis added.)


My Idea-Killing posts here and here are in a similar vein (and were also triggered by Kathy).

The point I’m also attempting to make, however, is that there are pearls of wisdom in the archives of thousands of bloggers. Those of us who are RSS addicted scan for the latest and greatest thoughts and ideas – while ignoring the ancient wisdom of mere moments ago.

Read these archives for a graduate school wealth of knowledge on Creating Passionate Users.
Or these archives on questions that lead to insightful leadership.
Or these on servant leadership lessons.
Or these from a productive slacker.
Or wander to the blogs of your favorite writers – find the gold – and share it with the rest of us.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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