Heterogeneous Leadership Teams

Students need experience collaborating with people in other disciplines and fields.

Alejandro Crawford

Let’s say you’re planning to rob the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand. Are you going to go in with a team of all safecrackers? Twelve pickpockets? A crew of explosives experts?

Not a chance. To get past the state-of-the-art security, you need a cast of characters of disparate disposition and ability. You need a team of opposites, each of whose skills and approach complements those of the others.

You need to take calculated risks. You must reach beyond what should be possible, but case out the joint carefully, with contingency plans in place, before you start. And you need to be prepared to act opportunistically, making the most of available resources when you run up against constraints or when events fail to proceed according to plan. If you want to rob three casinos at once, you need heterogeneous collaboration, calculated risk-taking and resourceful opportunism.

In my work with business owners, innovators and students of entrepreneurship, I call this the “Ocean’s Eleven Principle.” Our universities and corporations are very bad at applying it. We prepare most students and employees quite poorly for simultaneous casino heists. We group students and employees with peers steeped in the same training, thinking and reference points. Then we have them approach problems by competing against these peers, often in artificial exercises under controlled conditions.

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Senior Consultant Alejandro Crawford on “Developing Entrepreneurial Students for the 21st Century Economy” – what it means for students to create solutions to emerging problems, instead of just applying formulas derived for yesterday’s world. Crawford’s remarks were delivered as part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Summit. To view more highlights of this conference, please visit NFTE’s website.

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Heterogeneous Leadership Teams