Team players & team spirit

Recently I attended a fairly interesting session on Design Planning. The professor was talking about how he always ended up with folks that had bad personal hygiene & worse social skills every time he asked for team members who have been on three or more successful (read highly innovative) projects.

It bothered him, this trend of rather socially / team challenged folks & their connection with successful projects. Ahh!! he realized after a while. These guys had figured out that meetings were a waste of time & the only thing that happened in the name of teams was some deadweight folks would watch the computer screens while these socially challenged folks would work. The team spirit that was supposed to assist & accelerate the effort would instead hamper it.

This lead these guys to adopt rather unpopular postures so that they would be left in peace to continue working in Skunkworks mode on these projects (& thus they made them successful). The question that this raises in my mind is....who failed these guys? Is it not the responsibility of the senior management to ensure that people with similar skills, motivations & like mindedness are selected in a team?

Borrowing a cue from the military, the team truly is as strong as the weakest link in it. So, ask yourself for your next project...are you the weakest link? If not, who is? & Can you do anything to make them worthwhile (or get them out of your way)?

Sometimes, I am not sure if we have taken this team thing a little too far. Do really great things actually come from team players?