Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of Linkedin, and former Paypal COO and member of the Paypal Mafia, have an interesting statement.
No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.– Reid Hoffman
The statement in my opinion is valid, but also biased, Reid was part of the great team that included the likes of Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. Being part of a great team is not like being part of an average team. From this perspective, i think it was wrong to generalise.
Another point to focus on, where are we comparing solo to team ? Is it at the founding level or entire company level ? Of course a small company run by 1 person will fare much worse than a company run by a team. Thus it makes sense to assume that Reid meant Solo-Founder versus Multi-founders companies.
First, let’s see the advantages of being in a team, then i’ll discuss the disadvantages.
Advantages of teams:
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team” emphasizes the advantages of collaboration and teamwork over individual efforts, particularly in complex or competitive situations.
Teams are smarter.
While an individual may possess great intelligence, skills, or strategies, they can be limited by their own capabilities and perspectives. When facing challenges or goals that require diverse expertise, resources, and perspectives, the collective strength of a team often surpasses that of an individual.
Teams allow for the pooling of knowledge, skills, and experiences. Each team member brings their unique strengths, perspectives, and abilities, which can complement and enhance one another. By leveraging the collective intelligence and talents of the team, better solutions, ideas, and outcomes can be achieved.
Teams can execute tasks better.
Teams enable effective division of labor and specialization. Different team members can focus on specific tasks or areas, utilizing their individual expertise, and accomplishing goals more efficiently. This distribution of responsibilities can lead to increased productivity, as well as the ability to tackle complex projects that would be overwhelming for a single person.
Teams suffer less burnout.
Teams also offer support and motivation. The collaborative environment fosters mutual assistance, idea-sharing, and problem-solving. When facing setbacks or challenges, team members can provide encouragement, offer different perspectives, and contribute to finding solutions. This collective support helps individuals stay motivated and persevere through difficult times.
Playing Solo is though.
In contrast, playing a “solo game” means relying solely on one’s own abilities and resources, which can be limiting in terms of time, skills, and knowledge. Without the input and synergy of a team, an individual may find it challenging to handle the complexities, workload, and competitive nature of certain endeavors.
Disadvantages of teams:
Having a great team offer a lot of advantages, but having a bad team has a lot of disadvantages. And it is more likely that you will end up with a bad team than with a good team.
Here’s a list of when a team can be detrimental to the company:
- If the team is not putting enough effort, you would be giving away equity for a disengaged team.
- Teams tend to persevere less, hence if things stay bad for a prolonged time, the members will move to other things.
- Inequality of effort creates tension, and tend to bring down all the productivity. If i am working 8h a day, and one of the equal confounders work 1h a week and has the exact same amount of shares, why would i continue putting so much effort.
- Having a team requires the decisions to be more democratic, and companies do rarely succeed when decision making is democratic. Of course decisions should be discussed, but some times risks need to be taken, and a democratic approach does not favour risks.