Is the A-Team Practical at any Company?



  • On a team of people who work for the same company, whether it be IT / Sales / Finance, do you think it is possible to have all A players? When I say A player, I mean someone with drive to do a good job because it's the right thing to do, the initiative to generate new ideas and contribute to the team, technical skills to do the job, and the ability to learn how to consistently improve.

    What are the pros and cons to having an A-Team be your team?
    Is the cost to hire and retain top talent too high?
    Is it unreasonable to think you should have all A players?
    Would a team made entirely of A players be more successful than one comprised of only some A players?



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    Would a team made entirely of A players be more successful than one comprised of only some A players?

    Yes, and far more costly. So it has to perform better and requires a framework to support it. Strap a rocket to your Jeep and you aren't going to go fast, you are going to tear the frame apart.



  • My limited exposure

    Having all A-Team members means that work will not get done after some time.

    Having an A-Team member would mean that he would bring the others up a level, helping them succeed - and the company too.



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    Is it unreasonable to think you should have all A players?

    Yes, very. Only .1% or .001% of the population can be A players. Of those, most are spread out amongst many companies. For any given company to have only A players means that scores of other companies have to get none. And no company that is super large can distill in that way, they just can't.

    So only a company that is far more rare than an A player is can have a large collection of A players in it.

    I actually have an article partially written about this - Hiring the Best or Hiring to the Middle.



  • It works, but only up until a certain size:
    http://www.ribbonfarm.com/the-gervais-principle/



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    Is the cost to hire and retain top talent too high?

    Companies who leverage A team players are the biggest winners. Companies that hire A teamers but don't leverage them are the biggest losers. A company has to decide what it is. Are they trying to hire top talent and are they prepared to leverage them? Or do they want to move to management-focused and hire middling people who are cheaper.



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    What are the pros and cons to having an A-Team be your team?

    Top Talent Teams are:

    • Self motivated and cost very little, if anything, to manage.
    • Highly individual and unique, you can't use standard processes or expectations around them.
    • Self training and mentoring.
    • Self directing.
    • Unpredictable.
    • Extremely valuable both to you, to others and on their own.
    • Seeking places to excel.
    • Looking for challenges.


  • Something that is interesting is that the best executives and management are often designed around being best at managing those that are not the best. So there is, I believe, an inverse correlation between great teams and great management. Management of an A-team is more like being a secretary - just there to assist with the BS and get out of the way.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @NetworkNerd said:

    Is it unreasonable to think you should have all A players?

    Yes, very. Only .1% or .001% of the population can be A players. Of those, most are spread out amongst many companies. For any given company to have only A players means that scores of other companies have to get none. And no company that is super large can distill in that way, they just can't.

    So only a company that is far more rare than an A player is can have a large collection of A players in it.

    I actually have an article partially written about this - Hiring the Best or Hiring to the Middle.

    So if we take that one step further, one could also say it is highly likely the objective criteria that define what an A player is cannot be the same as the subjective perception of any specific team manager. Bob may think Jane is an A player compared to everyone else at the company / on his team, but she may not be an A player if you look at what an A player is objectively.



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    So if we take that one step further, one could also say it is highly likely the objective criteria that define what an A player is cannot be the same as the subjective perception of any specific team manager. Bob may think Jane is an A player compared to everyone else, but she may not be an A player if you look at what an A player is objectively.

    Correct, to a typical manager A team members are often the bottom performing. A teamers rarely shine in a middle environment designed to stifle the factors that make them great. It's a tradeoff. Managing to the middle is great for most environments, but it leaves little means for top performers to perform.



  • The deviation is measured and well known with developers. They are referred to as 1X and 10X developers. The average developer is a 1X (they do the work of 1x average developer.) They are the top of the bell curve. You can deviate from average quite a bit and rarely get much farther than .8X to 1.2X productivity.

    Then there is a gap where almost no one exists. Then there are 10X developers who exist far at the top of the chart who regularly do 10X the productivity of an average developer. It's worth a fortune to hire these people. If a normal developer is worth $80K, these guys literally are $800K by comparison! Problem is, if your company cannot leverage them, they are bored and are going to leave.



  • @g.jacobse said:

    My limited exposure

    Having all A-Team members means that work will not get done after some time.

    Really? Can you give more detail about your experience there?



  • @NetworkNerd said:

    @g.jacobse said:

    My limited exposure

    Having all A-Team members means that work will not get done after some time.

    Really? Can you give more detail about your experience there?

    A-Team members is about the same as everyone having a hammer. Doesn't matter what kind or size, and the 'job' is to pound just one nail in.

    A-Team is five people,.. five hammers,.. one nail. You either have four people just standing and watching as just one person does it, or all five bickering on who gets to hit it first- I started this project, last- I finished this project.

    Overly simplified,.. but my interpretation ..



  • Ideally, your "A-Team" would be on their A-game in different areas. Get your A-Game Web Develop, A-Game Back-end developer, A-Game Network Admin, etc....

    That way, one has a hammer, one has a screw driver, one has a jackhammer, and the other one drives a tank.



  • So, anyone on Mangolassi identifying themselves as an A-Teamer? Don't be shy.

    Personally, I've never met one of these 10X developers so I've always believed it to be a myth.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    Personally, I've never met one of these 10X developers so I've always believed it to be a myth.

    @AndyW is a 10X developer.



  • @dafyre said:

    Ideally, your "A-Team" would be on their A-game in different areas. Get your A-Game Web Develop, A-Game Back-end developer, A-Game Network Admin, etc....

    That way, one has a hammer, one has a screw driver, one has a jackhammer, and the other one drives a tank.

    Generally that is true. But in large shops you have more than one on a team. Like if you are running a top global website (obviously Google or Facebook, but smaller ones too) you need a full, round the clock team of A team people handling infrastructure. Not just one guy per job role.



  • @g.jacobse said:

    @NetworkNerd said:

    @g.jacobse said:

    My limited exposure

    Having all A-Team members means that work will not get done after some time.

    Really? Can you give more detail about your experience there?

    A-Team members is about the same as everyone having a hammer. Doesn't matter what kind or size, and the 'job' is to pound just one nail in.

    A-Team is five people,.. five hammers,.. one nail. You either have four people just standing and watching as just one person does it, or all five bickering on who gets to hit it first- I started this project, last- I finished this project.

    Overly simplified,.. but my interpretation ..

    I don't know many A teamers who want to work in a vacuum. Part of what makes people really good, I think, is that they like to work together, peer reviewe, mentoring, growth, competition, etc.


Log in to reply