What is the ideal team composition?
Learn how the Layar founding team may have achieved more.
Why do some teams run great projects while others get stuck along the way? Over the last two years my Teamily business partners and I have been working on figuring out what is needed to succeed and thrive in a team environment.
On September 22nd we have organized a meetup for people who are interested to learn more about how to build stronger teams.
To get insight into how Teamily works I will explain the importance of team composition using the narrative of the previous company I founded.
A vision of the next mass medium that never happend
Almost 8 years ago I was part of the founding team of Layar. Together with my two co-founders we were able to attract an awesome group of people, get millions in funding and create amazing products. Layar was the first popular Augmented Reality (AR) application with the vision of AR becoming the next mass medium. AR is the technology of combining reality with digital information, similar to what Pokemon Go is doing today.
However, although some people may remember the brand or the application Layar, the adoption of AR as the new mass medium never happened. It doesn't have repetitive daily usage by millions of users.
Eventually, the company pivoted to a self service platform for interactive print enabling publishers to add digital elements to printed products like magazines, brochures and posters. A smart and functional niche focus. The company was sold 2 years ago and incorporated into the current consumer AR player Blippar.
Analyzing founder team composition with the Teamily model
Layar was about the vision of AR potential as the next mass medium and the realization of that vision into a product for the market to use.
Let’s look at this using the Teamily Model. Teamily recognizes 4 quadrants in a project and matches this with people’s personalities:
Connect: (people that) see the vision of the potential
Construct: (people that) construct the solution
Conquer: (people that) help the solution gain a place in the world
Continue: (people that) maintain the system
With this model it is clear that a successful founding team ideally is able to cover all quadrants using experience, personalities or other wise.
The Layar founding team matched well with the first 2 quadrants: Connect and Construct. That’s where the strengths aligned. It came naturally to the team to see the potential and to get others to connect with it, as well as realizing the envisioned potential in products.
This was in short what the team did in the first years: with investors, on the stages of the World Economic Forum and many others and with developers all over the world. The team shared its dream of AR, connected all to the potential. Using the strength of that connection, the team was able to gather resources in funding and people to build the envisioned products.
The Layar founding team matched less well with the Conquer and Continue quadrants. In particular, the qualities of the Conquer quadrant were missed when trying to achieve the mass media vision of AR. Being weak in Conquer means it’s not easy or natural to create a transactional organization focused on conquering the market: getting interaction in usage, generating results in sales, growing returns, tweaking the product on the way to product market fit.
The story of Layar and its founding team is now over after the sale.
It’s about doing what needs to be done
When you read the Layar founding team story you may think that the solution to the team’s weakness would have been adding a partner who matches well with the Conquer quadrant. Yet that wasn’t the the case, the team could only work with what they had.
When teams know their challenge at hand, align their themselves to create the right context for the needed result, they will achieve success. It’s not the team composition that makes a team successful. It is more important for teams to work with what is available and focus on what needs to be done than to be ideal or complete. The awareness of any strengths and weaknesses help, but isn't key.
The knowledge on what to focus on now and how to create the right context for the needed result was lacking with Layar’s founding team. The focus was scattered, with many projects running, not zeroing in on an attainable succes, one market with one product, and a transactional organization to sustain the business.
The team would have achieved more with a full focus on becoming transactional when the time was there. Letting go of creating new visions and products would have emerged the needed resourcefulness of the team to fill the gap of the need to gain a place in the market. The awareness of the natural preference to work on visions and products, as well as the team’s challenges with the conquer aspects of the business cycle, may have helped but would not have been key.
Teams don’t get picked. They emerge. The key challenge is how to get teams successful. That is where Teamily comes in. Teamily helps focus on the challenge at hand and aligns the right people in the right context to achieve succes. It’s this knowledge that is key for anyone, any team and any organization to thrive in all they do.
Learn to use this too
The story of Layar is as rich as all who took part in it or saw it happen. It was an amazing ride and learning experience in entrepreneurship for which I am thankful. What I wrote here is my perspective using the Teamily model.
What we are doing with Teamily will help many teams become more successful. Teams at Google, ABN AMRO and others are already getting great results from it. Do you want to learn how people and project stages match? How you can use this knowledge in teams to become stronger, more resourceful and successful? Join the Teamily meetup on September 22nd in Amsterdam.