A view from Dave Trott: A good team beats great individuals
A view from Dave Trott

A good team beats great individuals

One of the best political speeches I ever heard was by Elizabeth Warren, in 2011 when she was running for the Senate.

Warren was campaigning for the super-rich to pay more taxes.

She was accused of “class warfare”; this was her response:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

“You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.

“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.

“You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory.

“You didn’t have to hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea.

“God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

“But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay it forward for the next kid who comes along.”

I love that speech because it makes clear that everything is a team game.

Woody Guthrie expressed a similar sentiment in the song Ship in the Sky.

It’s about a little girl seeing vapour trails in the sky and singing:

“My daddy flies that ship in the sky.

“My mama’s not afraid and neither am I.

“‘Cos my daddy flies that ship in the sky.”

Next to her a little boy sings:

“My daddy works in iron and steel.

“My daddy builds the planes that fly so high.

“And that’s what keeps your daddy up in the sky.”

Then another little boy sings:

“My daddy works at the place where they land.

“Don’t be afraid when it gets dark and rains.

“‘Cos my daddy will bring your daddy back home again.”

Guthrie wrote that because everyone depends on other people.

Everything is a team game.

The best briefs are written by the best planners.

The best ideas are written by the best copywriters and art directors.

The best work is chosen by the best creative directors.

The best commercials are shot by the best directors.

(Who use the best directors of photography, the best editors, the best designers, the best actors.)

The ads are seen because the spots are bought by the best media people.

And all of this runs because it’s paid for and supported by the best clients.

Just like football, it’s a team game.

That’s why the most successful manager ever, Sir Alex Ferguson, said in a talk to Harvard Business School that you have to respect everyone associated with the club, from the cleaning lady to the groundsman to the guy who drives the team bus.

People who behave like that make winning organisations – remember that when you’re hiring.

Dave Trott is the author of The Power of Ignorance, Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three

Topics