Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Hobbit and Team Dynamic


Many entrepreneurs constantly face human resource (HR) problems. One predominant HR issue for start-up companies is having to manage their founding teams effectively. Start-up companies are inhered with 3 major difficulties in dealing with team issues:
1.       Under-Resourced. Most start-up companies lack finances to compensate member’s effort and their opportunity cost.

2.        High Level of Uncertainty. Start-up companies generally ignore detailed business planning processes. Most founders have rough business ideas, and just work with them. Therefore, start-up companies often change their demand on skill sets and capabilities rapidly to cope with unseen situations.     

3.       Loose Organizational Culture and Values. Founders often ignore the need strengthen their organizational culture and values, because they are too tied down by the day to day workload. 

In addition, people often ask me team management questions. I have noticed that very often people are confused by the concepts of group and team. The main difference between group and team is that a group does not have to share a same purpose or interest. However, in a team, every member’s personal interests are interwoven with a shared purpose or goal. They are very important concepts to remember, because you have to act very differently towards group and team members. However, I am not going to discuss these concepts in great detail in this post. If anyone is interested in this particular topic, please post a request at the comment section. I will provide more in-depth discussion later on.      
Great teams can help companies to achieve the impossible, but bad teams can destroy whatever opportunities there may be out there. As one of my lecturers in entrepreneurship said “ ’A’ grade ideas with ‘B’ grade people will not go far, however ‘A’ grade people with ‘B’ ideas will fly up high.” The trick is how to manage a group of ‘A’ grade people work as a team and reinforce the team dynamic.
Not surprisingly, many academic researchers focus heavily on this particular area. Don’t worry. I am not going to bore you with research findings and theoretical frameworks. In my personal opinion, people tend to learn complicated concepts and theories much faster, if they are in the form of literature (novels, movies, comics, poems and songs etc). Stories provide audiences with an abstract form of realities. From these realities, audiences can always absorb new insights from them.      
 A novel titled “The Hobbit” (the prequel of “The Lord of The Ring”) provides insights about how start-up companies manage their team effectively. For people who have not read it yet, don’t worry. I am not going to give away any specific details about the story. However, I would say that their journey provides a very good abstract reality of how founding teams in start-up companies may have to go through. I have put these key insights into a mind map form and put it at the end of this post.
One striking thing in this story is that the team is constantly struggling between diversity and unification within themselves. “The Hobbit” demonstrates how people with diversified backgrounds work together as a team to achieve a common goal and yet maintain the uniqueness of individual’s abilities and characteristics. I would recommend this book to all entrepreneurs who want to manage their founding teams more effectively.    
Click Here To Download The Mind Map or View Here

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