A strong management team can create success out of even average ideas. So what types of people do these teams consist of? According to Bill Gross, founder of the legendary startup engine, Idealab, the best groups have a blend of four personality types, people with complementary skills. These four are:
- entrepreneur (E), who has the vision.
- producer (P). who “makes things happen, who actually takes a product, executes on it, sells it -; all the execution stages, to get it in customers’ hands.”
- administrator (A), the person is who is part bureaucrat, part troubleshooter, part organizer, someone who “puts systems in place and helps the trains run on time and keeps the wheels on the bus when things are going crazy.”
- and integrator (I), a “people person” who understands the other three types and helps “those three talents get along, because very often those other three talents hate each other’s guts.”
In Gross’s experience, most people are dominant in one of these four areas.That’s not to say that your dominant area is your only strength; to be certain, there are administrators who are also skilled integrators, for instance. But like it or not -; and in the same way you had your best subject in school or your best sport as an athlete -; you have a dominant personality type.
And it’s either E, P, A, or I. “I’m clearly an entrepreneur,” says Gross in the video below. “I really love inventing the new thing, seeing things in the distance, and trying to do things ahead of their time.”
The ideal mix
According to Gross, the perfect balance varies, depending on what stage the company is in. Startups, naturally, need more entrepreneurial energy than anything else. Later-stage companies require a bit more producer types. Mature companies, becoming more bureaucratic almost by definition, certainly need greater doses of “A” types. At the largest companies, having an “integrator” is crucial, as the number of conflicts expand exponentially as the number of staff members grow.
Which type are you?
Gross proposes what you might call a “window” test: Imagine you’re in a room, staring out a window, and the window has some dirt on it.
The E looks at the window and says, “Look over there. There’s a parking lot. We could build a building.” He doesn’t really see the actual window; he sees what’s through the window.
The P says: “We better clean that window.”
The A says: “We could make a form. And people could fill it out when they see something wrong. They’ll turn it in, and those forms will go in a queue. And then we’ll get it taken care of.”
The I says: “I wonder what the E, P, and A are thinking.”
Of the EPAI mix, Gross says, “I even think this is more important than having a decent [business] idea…this team working together can take a not-so-decent idea and turn it into a decent idea….I wish I had learned it earlier in my career. I could have made some things that weren’t successful successful.”