Thinking about a team strategy to get your business unstuck? How about giving everyone permission to “not know”?
Sounds disruptive, doesn’t it?
This strategy works when team members give each other permission to admit “they don’t know.” When you all explore uncharted waters together, your solutions can move your business out of the status quo.
Members of scientific, engineering and IT teams are trained to target having the right answer. They want to know what they don’t know.
These teams are skeptical by nature. They question and validate each other’s point of view until the team arrives at the most robust response to the question.
Or do they?
Depending on how homogeneous your team composition, you may think you have identified what you don’t know. Yet you haven’t fully vetted all your options.
Think Mother Nature. Genetic diversity confers a selective advantage on the ability of natural populations to sustain themselves (hybrid vigor). That’s why some populations are niche-specialized and others are more wide-spread.
Now think about your teams.
When teams are hybrid in composition, they include multi-disciplinary members. They don’t stop with membership, however. They have taken the time to learn how to collaborate. As a result of their track record, your company attracts A-list customers. These customers regard you as go-to resources for varied, long-term and complex projects, with lucrative end points.
Alternatively, some corporate cultures are most comfortable working on repeat orders. Their focus is output for products and projects whose specifications and scope are known or similar to past work. These companies and teams are firmly invested in sustaining “what got us to where we are today.” Their teams tend to be homogeneous. Their status quo boat isn’t rocked.
When your business model focuses on sustaining a legacy customer base, your homogeneous set of business development folks lose their skills to acquire new customers. Over time, daily activities involve responding to RFQs for repeat orders. Over time, your customers pigeon-hole you as the order-taker supplier of choice instead of an innovator.
What happens when a team strategy is adopted giving where team members permission to “not know?” Increased bandwidth of BD, project management and Ops emerges. You start identifying gaps in “where you are” and “where you need to be” rather quickly.
This team strategy impacts hiring processes. Hybrid BD, project management and operations teams include a mix of business sustainers as well as new business acquirers. Everyone has a lot to learn from one another.
Yes, this is risky business. Questions arise which haven’t been asked before in your former, homogeneous team setting.
A newly hybridized team initially can lack confidence in their decision-making abilities (which, by the way, are often more robust than those made by homogeneous teams). As a result, your new team becomes innovative and collaborative.
Give your team permission to “not know.”
If your company is stalemated in your ability to acquire new customers, a heterogeneous team strategy is a beneficial business development and revenue generation can of worms to open.
That strategy is your launchpad to where you need to be.
Babette Ten Haken started out her career as a scientist. Early on, she was asked to bring clarity to the chaos of stalemated conversations between engineers, sales, IT, quality, legal and marketing folks. She focuses on building collaborative, innovative and profitable teams who are focused on excellence in the hand-off of strategy for execution. Her Playbook on leadership and business strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.