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I'm a founder of TaskBeat - the productivity application for connected enterprise. Personally I'm trying to reconcile entrepreneur, manager and engineer in one bio.

Focus on people, not teams

The way work is being done is changing. Therefore in today’s environment the traditional concept of a team is changing to follow the change of building things. Here in TaskBeat.com we’ve started building the team with “product first” approach where the benefits of the product are put ahead of the benefits of the team. This approach means we had to adjust the whole concept of what the team really is. As the change is the only constant we’ve moved on from focusing on the team and focused on individuals. It means that we haven’t even attempted to build a stable team to be grown over time for the benefit of the team itself, and instead we’ve focused on growing individuals.

We want to work only with successful individuals — people who are remarkable for what they do. The change of focus was so massive that the very concept of “benefit of the team” has vaporised. Instead of making sure that we have the right set of people to work together we’ve focused on having the right set of skills to work with the product. Over the time the whole concept of “the team” has changed for us, and instead of having a fixed set of people and a fixed set of skills we’ve started mixing different people and different skills to follow the needs of the market and the needs of the very product we’re building. Over the last two years we’ve seen tremendous benefits in making sure we attract the absolute top talent we can get and apply it to the areas of the product where we need it and when we need it most.

Interestingly that meant we’ve became much more open to change and much more welcoming to many people we always wanted to work with but who would have been unavailable for us because of their commitment. By welcoming the right talent when and where we need it, offering a complete flexibility over who works when and how people work for us we’ve managed to attract top talent from many companies, including our competitors. Because the work at TaskBeat is so task oriented and we run so many projects in parallel we’ve went very wide across the market to reach out to the top talent and made it very clear to virtually anyone with the right skills that we want to work with them, and they’re already hired if they only wanted to work for us. With every interview I’ve held with every individual that has approached us I’ve emphasised (to much surprise) that I really care about not what I want but what they want, making sure that they feel confident they will be leaving the product being even better at what they’re already been recognised as being remarkably good at.

The interviews we’re still running remain structured around the perspective of the end goal of working together on the product with the only focus being: the exit benefits for the candidate we interview. The raft of people who came to work on TaskBeat as a result of that approach have brought lot of ideas, fresh view and energy to complete many parts of the project with a very open minded approach and a very positive attitude, even if some of the professional relationships have lasted less than one year. Having said that some of the people have been with us for years but instead of saying “our team” we’ve always been saying “Pawel”, “Magda”, “Maciej” in a sense that everyone interchangeable, here to stay for a limited time, but also by focusing very much on the individual and their needs. By focusing on the individual we’ve departed from anachronistic thinking of a “team” or “a company” in favour of thinking of a real person: her or his style of work, line of thinking, individual working patterns, special skills and requirements, focusing on individuality and best that very person brings to the product itself.

We’ve went for a great lengths to make sure that this unique culture is embedded at the heart of the product and the company. We’ve made sure that everyone treats everyone else with great respect as a person, not a member of the team, not an officer within the company. Instead of trying to normalise the behaviour, working patterns, remuneration or whatever else, we’ve emphasised on very much what’s unique that each person brings to the product’s table. We’ve always talked about that the individual can bring to the product, not the team. We wanted to emphasise on diffrences as much as on commonalities to make sure we can really capitalise on diversity of professional backgrounds, levels of experience and leverage the very individual qualities that made the people with whom we work successful, remarkable. We’ve focused very much on making sure that everyone is comfortable in their own skin instead of focusing on team building exercises, hugging each other, creating inner circles or tapping ourselves on our shoulders. As a result no one was forced into a “uniform” of “the team” or “the company” and the benefits for the product were massive.

I hope that in the years to come we will continue to capitalise on focusing on individuals. We want to continue being forthcoming in reaching out for those remarkable people, no matter the company they’re full time with or arrangements we’ll make. As long as we’ll focus on people and product, not the team or the company, we should carry on staying open minded and embracing the change that will inevitably carry on happening on the regular basis.


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