Team dynamics plays a crucial role in the development of a company. How well the team works with each other can make or break the team. Investors look at this aspect very closely, because it is something that can carry the team to success or drown them in failure. Following up from our previous article ‘Sci0036: What Investors Look For: There Is No I In Team‘, we would like to share a story from the book ‘The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship – By Mr Inderjit Singh’
“When I was planning the set up of my first company, United Test and Assembly Center (UTAC), I was still working in Texas Instruments as the director of operations, managing pretty much the whole operations with some global responsibilities. Working with me was a group of managers I considered among the best in Singapore. They all had very good domain knowledge, and more significantly, they had built up a very strong working relationship and understanding of each other. After many years working together, the team had developed a good working relationship and gone through a few rounds of ups and downs together. The stressful periods they overcame did result in stressed relationships at times, but eventually built strong bonds over the years. More importantly, the team had learnt to read each other so well that sometimes, very little needed to be discussed and most of their time was spent in execution of actual work matters.
When I was planning UTAC, I knew it was vital that a significant number of my team members in Texas Instruments should join me in the venture. Had I not been able to convince them to join me, UTAC may never have been formed. So when we started UTAC, there was very little pressure in trying to develop an understanding of how the team would work. We had a good idea of what we had to do.
Our confidence lay in our knowledge of how to run the business and also the comfort that each team member knew what he had to do without needing anyone else to tell him what to do. To us, running the business and operations was as familiar as the back of our hands. Our challenges were therefore reduced to that of having to raise funds and find our customers. The team aspect of the equation was already solved. We trusted each other and each others’ judgement. This does not mean we never argued. On the contrary, we argued many times, but we knew this was part of the process, and after all was said and done, we still sat down for a drink and kept our relationships strong.
One funny thing happened when part of our same team later went on to start our next company, Infiniti Solutions. The four of us who founded the company all had a long history of working together in Texas Instruments as well as in UTAC. However, we also had a new team member. During one heated meeting in which we discussed the terms of investment by a VC, some of us wanted to get aggressive in negotiations while another team member was very conservative and played the devil’s advocate. We just could not agree on the approach to take with the VC.
In the meeting, voices were raised and looked like we were going to get into a fight. Of course, the four of us from the original team knew exactly what was going to happen, but our new member got so worried we would end up in a fight that he immediately stood up and asked for a time out, putting his two hands in a T-format. The rest of us almost laughed as we knew what would be the final outcome – we would have reached a position the whole team subscribed to. After that meeting, we all went for tea at a nearby Indian coffee shop.”
Read more about Mr Inderjit’s experiences in his book ‘ The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship‘