I am adamant about the importance of collaboration. But why is collaboration important? It's because that's how we maximize our value to customers (and thus to the firm). Let's face it, we're all hired because of our brains. In tech companies, we're generally not hired for our physical strength, our height, eye color, or good looks. We're hired to use our brains. So a team of people is a collection of minds.
We can think of various ways to harness the collective power of the brains, of various combining functions for that power. For example, the combining function could be min(), which gives us the power of the minimum brain. That would be terrible! That's the least common denominator! We certainly don't want that, but it happens from time to time, unfortunately. Slightly better would be max() where we simply follow the most powerful brain. It's still one brain, so there's not much value in having a collection, except as a way to increase the sample size in which to find that most powerful brain. Even better would be sum(), where we add up the contributions of each of the brains and harness the sum total. Now the collection starts to have real value, but the whole is no greater than the sum of the parts. The best possible outcome is something like product(), where the powers of the brains are 'multiplied' together. This happens when people truly collaborate. Brains have an amazing ability to inspire each other to do more than they would all on their own. They challenge each other and push each other to greater accomplishments and they work together. And that is when the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts.
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Philip Brittan is the General Partner of Crazy Peak LLC
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