You can now apply as a team to work at Stripe: https://t.co/PVpWXaIzuV
— Stripe (@stripe) April 25, 2016
Avi Bryant, an engineering lead at the technology company Stripe, recently published a blog post titled, “BYOT,” where he encouraged groups of 2 to 5 people to apply to work together at the company. They call it “Bring Your Own Team.”
What an interesting concept. And a dream scenario for those engineers who do manage to successfully navigate the application and interview process and end up together at Stripe.
I’m not sure if Avi or his Stripe colleagues recently read NY Times columnist Charles Duhigg’s new book Smarter Faster Better, but even if they didn’t, they’re on to something here. In it Duhigg tells the fascinating story of a team of data scientists at Google spending nearly half a decade studying what makes teams productive and successful. They found that how a group interacts is more important than who is in the group. That a team of “B” players with high emotional intelligence, who allow each other to speak freely, safely and evenly, can outperform a team of supposed “A” players – superstars on paper.
We’ve all experienced or witnessed this phenomenon. It’s all around us. In England, Leicester’s rise to the top of the Premier League this season – the world’s richest soccer league, is a victory for teamwork. Leicester’s players play for each other – just watch their high tempo, organized style. Each member of the team is accountable, and they’re winning against all odds. 5,000 to 1 odds, to be exact.
Or take a fictional example – like HBO’s tremendous comedy Silicon Valley. Pied Piper’s two engineers, Dinesh and Gilfoyle, need each other. They make each other (and the show) better – if not for their coding collaboration, than at least for the friendly competition they inspire in each other. It’s unorthodox, but it works.
Much has been written about the rise of contingent workers in our new “gigging economy” – economists predict that 40% of America’s workforce will be comprised of freelancers and temps by 2020. And while 2 out of every 5 workers in less than five years may just be freelancers –out for themselves, in teams of “one,” at the end of the day, success in business rarely comes from individual pursuits.
Which is why Stripe’s call for job seekers to apply together as a team has such potential. As Avi describes it, “the industry has always focused on hiring atoms; we’d like to try hiring molecules.” As with any science experiment – Stripe will have to test the hypothesis they’ve constructed and go out and hire these teams of engineers. Some will work out, others may not. There are certainly challenges that will arise and require thinking through related to performance, retention, and advancement of the individuals that make up these teams.
Finding an amazing teammate, or a group of teammates that you work well with, that make you better, that you enjoy being around, is so rare. If you’re lucky enough to have experienced this, you wake up inspired and motivated to succeed.
These are the types of groups that stick together and can change industries and the planet through innovations like PayPal, Tesla, LinkedIn, and SpaceX. The kind of teams that can win the Premier League against all odds because the “how” outweighed the “who.”