Ducks in a Row: Forging a Team

Ducks in a Row: Forging a Team

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

4266001311_8916dfd9cc_mI have often heard managers refer to their job as “herding cats;” this is especially true in technical fields where much of the work requires individual efforts.

Scientists are probably the most difficult, since they often come from an environment where publish or perish is the mantra and egos are super-sized.

This was the difficulty that David Ferrucci faced when he set about building the team that created Watson for IBM. He not only had to herd cats he had to hire cats.

As most of the world knows, Ferrucci’s team was wildly successful and created a computer that won playing Jeopardy against its two top past champions and is moving on to far greater challenges.

He says, “In the end, the hero was the team, not any individual member or algorithm.”

What do the researchers think? This comment from one of them pretty much says it all, “Compared to the way we work now, it’s like we were standing still before.”

These scientists are all considered ‘stars’ in their respective fields, but none of them could do anything close to Watson on their own.

Nor could they have done it if their egos and desire for personal recognition had stayed their driving force.

“As for the members of the original Watson team, they’d tell you that never in a million years could they have imagined what we accomplished. Just like Watson itself, we all learned that the sum is much greater than the parts.”

Hiring and herding cats is the true talent of a great manager/leader and absolute proof that in today’s world the boss needs to be both.

And Watson is proof positive that the only stars worth having are the ones who join the team.

Flickr image credit: Bengt Nyman

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