I’m pleased, although not surprised, by the incredible wave of reactions to and comments about my post, “Great People Are Overrated.” (I’m also not surprised by the vitriol and personal nature of some of the barbs aimed at me—that seems to go with the territory whenever you question an article of faith among the Web startup crowd.)
My guess is that the post touched a nerve because it touched on one of the great dividing lines in our business culture today. As members of an economy, a society, and a collection of companies, all of us are engaged in a conversation (sometimes explicit, mainly implicit) about what makes the world go ‘round—individual brilliance or group genius, self-possessed superstars or well-rounded teams.
This is not a strictly either-or choice, of course. Even the best groups have stars, and not all stars find it hard to work well with others. But there remains the question of balance, priorities, even business mythology. If we’re building a company, what sorts of people do we want to recruit? If we’re paying our people, what sorts of contributions and behaviors do we wish to reward? If we’re thinking about our country and society, what kind of outcomes are we comfortable with, in terms of wealth and income distribution? Ultimately, are we fielding a team, or assembling a collection of individuals?
To get a sense of my answers to those questions, check out my new post on HBR, “Great People Are Overrated (Part II).”