Do you have a star system or a team system? Or a hybrid of both?
Let's say you have a star, and the star performs well. Then, you have a special project, and the star leaves the team in your company for awhile. You know the drill, a project is too important to fail. So your company puts the star on that project and pledges to simply plow ahead with the team that remains in the core business. The powers that be simply hope the team that remains can maintain the current market position.
Then a funny thing happens. The team starts acting like a team and starts relying on each other and taking more responsibility, rather than simply relying on the star to make it rain. In short, they maximize their talent and start getting results by working together.
Then, the special project ends and the star returns, except things are different now. The team is getting similar or better results by accepting greater responsibility and working together - without the star.
Why's this on my mind? I've been following the saga of pro basketball's Houston Rockets, who have been without NBA all-stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, for most of the last two years. You would think that means the Rockets have been dismal over the past couple of seasons, but they haven't. They're exceeding expectations this year, and went on an improbable 22 game winning streak during the 08-09 season.
How'd they do it without the superstars? They put the responsibility in the hands of the role players, who had to grow as individual talents and rely heavily on each other as teammates.
You'd think with that type of talent growth, plugging the superstar back into the equation would mean the Rockets would be even better. But talent doesn't work like that, does it? Instead of plugging McGrady back into the team, the Rockets are balking at bringing the All-Star back into the fold, content to roll with the team approach.
It reminds me of the chart my friend, Josh Letourneau, shared with me last week regarding effective networks (shown to the right of this post). Would you rather have everything going through one of two people, or a team that's flexible and can go to one of 30 people when they have a need?
The same could be said for an over-reliance on the star.