“The performance challenges that face companies in every industry…demand the kind of responsiveness, speed, on-line customization, and quality that is beyond the reach of individual performance. Teams bridge this gap.”
— Jon Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith, The Wisdom of Teams

Startups with high-performing teams perform better than those without.

But building a ridiculously efficient team can be tricky. Egos, big personalities, and even silent types, can disrupt efficient teamwork, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just look to the Avengers.

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Here’s a team made up of powerful individuals that ban together to save the world. Some have bigger personalities than others (*cough* Tony Stark *cough*) but they learn to work together, respecting each person’s unique contribution to the team objective.

The Avengers teach us the conditions needed to create a ridiculously efficient team:

➡️ Every person is aware of their unique contribution to the team (i.e., their superpower)

➡️ They willingly use that superpower to help the team achieve a common goal (i.e., defeating an enemy that threatens earth)

➡️ They put aside their egos and individual needs to achieve team success (*cough Tony Stark *cough*)

To recreate Avenger-like teamwork, all you have to do is get clear on everyone’s unique talents through this 15-minute hack:


Workplace Collaborations

Give each team member one minute of uninterrupted time to talk about themselves, listing out all their accomplishments and positive qualities they bring to a team environment.

“Aspire to high standards, expect strong results, offer self-praise, and stack your confidence.” — Lorri Meyers

This primes everyone for the second half of the exercise.

Once everyone has gone, the team lead asks everyone to write out their responses to the following questions on post-its:

1️⃣ From what you said, what do you feel really good at doing that no one else is?

2️⃣ How do you see those skills contributing to the group’s success?

Next, draw the following quadrants on a whiteboard or project it onto a screen.

Workplace Collaborations.png

Have each person put their post-its where they think they should go.

It’ll look a little like this:

Workplace Collaborations.png

This four-person team, which includes Mike, Tom, Ashley, and Lauren, can now see where everyone’s superpower lies. And, in the case of some teams, where they may have blindspots.

This powerful but simple exercise also shows that people in the workplace usually have more than one “superpower”. But for teams to create high-performing, ridiculously efficient teamwork, duties and roles need to be structured according to their greatest thinking talent quadrant, which lessens the impact that ego may have on team success.

For this cross-function team, each person would do the following:

  • Ashley — client representation / liaison that manages the account
  • Mike — in charge of gathering data and generating reports of team progress
  • Tom & Lauren — manipulate data and consider the big picture

Everyone is clear on who does what and the team lead merely has to check-in to make sure they are progressing on time.

Next time you’re getting a new team together or needing to reboot a team’s performance, try this hack. It’ll work every time!