Complexity and diversity are an opportunity – if ecosystem partners recognize them and are able to put them in a good use. In this blogpost Ulla reflects the importance of superpowers and shares insight of how they can be harnessed for the ecosystem’s or team’s benefit!

COVID-19 has forced us to face challenges that some researchers could predict but that came as a surprise for most of us. In short term, we need to accept the situation and do our best to prevent the virus from spreading and adapt our ways of living and working while waiting for the long-term solution. But when looking more closely, one can find a positive side of the pandemic as well.

In challenging situations, most people are committed to help. They align behind a common “purpose” and collaborate towards a common goal. The COVID-19 has created new forms of collaboration between organizations and people to create new medical devices, medicine and vaccination, but also to keep the situation in control. While the purpose is the first step towards aligning people, understanding of the superpowers of people and teams may help come up with better solutions more efficiently. But how to discover the right people and organizations to solve the challenges at hand? That’s where the Superpower analysis come in!

Seeking for Superpowers

Know thyself” is an advice to seek self-awareness. Although ancient Greek aphorism, it has recently become popular in the wealthy Silicon Valley business world. When working in a diverse team, inner virtues like self-mastery and courage, can be a powerful way to boost one’s own creativity and to support others.

In other words, finding one’s own and respecting others’ Superpowers is a powerful way of unlocking collaboration capabilities in diverse teams, and solving grand challenges by working together and treating others fairly and justly. However, individual level search for superpowers is just the beginning. To put them in a good use in organizational or ecosystem levels calls for systematic approach to recruitment, management and leadership.

Taking individual superpowers to team level

Searching for one’s superpowers may be scary as well. For example one of the young professionals with whom we were discussing on how to make most out of the individual personal profiles commented: “What if finding who I really am and what I want from life triggers me leave the company and change my life completely?

While we do not have answer to that question, we suggest starting the process of taking individual superpowers to team levels by answering the questions: “WHY it’s useful to know who we are?, “WHAT kinds of methods are there to help us in search for superpowers?” and “HOW do we use the insights?”

  • WHY is it useful to know who we are? In such unprecedented situation as Covid-19, self-awareness and self-mastery and courage can help overcome the fears and look beyond the conventional solutions and behavioral models. Knowing oneself can provide the Superpowers needed for both the emotional and rational sides to avoid negative thinking or even panic and focus on positive ways to adapt or solve the problems at hand. Understanding our own capabilities and behaviors, can make a difference in finding complementary capabilities to focus on solving the problems for the benefit of all parties.  
  • WHAT kinds of methods are there to help us in the search of superpowers? Examples of personality analysis include MBTI,  Big Five , DISC, Psycruit, ENFJ, Clifton’s and more. Most of the methods are based on psychological theories to help understand self, the lenses through which we observe others, how we naturally feel, think and behave in different life situations and interact with other people. Some of these methods have become a standards in specific groups of organizations with people who are “in believe” but there are others who question the blind use of the methods in both recruitments and career planning. The growing demand has also boosted the profiling and consulting service to estimated $2$4 bn business, which also attracts new service providers to enter the market and promote the “best and most accurate model” for recruiting or team developing. MBTI, has been used at approximately 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 89 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Although some researchers have challenged the validity for recruiting and promotions, can so many organizations be wrong?
  • HOW do we use the insights? Testing is one part, but using the insights by the individuals as team members or by the team leaders for untapping the Superpower of the entire team, might still have bigger potential for return on the investments. In the Ecosystem Handbook we have emphasized the value of diversity in the teams. Research suggests that diversity increases innovation and productivity in organizations.  However, often un-conscious bias prevent us from  building diversity as the lever for the organizations. One reason for that include lack of understanding ourselves; the way we feel, think and behave. Missing self-awareness and self-esteem might prevent us from fruitful collaboration with people who are “different” by a factor or another.

Superpowers at work: Engaging people to do their best

Taking the individual superpowers to team level calls for collective and systematic use of selected methodology. We have used for example MTBI and Clifton. When writing the Ecosystem Handbook we considered a recent case example, where we used the Clifton’s model to analyze the personalities and build the team profile as a sum of the team members. This is not deeply scientific way of using the model, but provides an overview about the ability of the team to accomplish the challenging task.

Team Background and objectives: Objective of the team was to get orders in, i.e. build a strong customer relationship, influence on the decision making, then delivering the ordered system with desired gross margin and superior customer delight. As expected, the team had strong talent themes (as they are called in Clifton’s model) in relationship building and execution and had the capability to strategize customer specific offering, but were not that strong in influencing on the decisions.

Team superpowers: Thus the Superpower of the team was summarized on high level as “intimate relationships and efficient execution”, with behavioral patterns illustrated in the Picture. The team needed focus on the areas to leverage the well strategized scenarios of competitive offerings and get help in articulating the value add in compelling and engaging way.

Super powers
Team superpower was identified as “Intimate relationships and efficient execution” with details of “best” and “worst” behaviors.

More detailed analysis of the individuals helped build the practices to convert the talent themes into strengths (again a concept from Clifton’s model) and further into a winning team leveraging its Superpowers.

Towards better future

Virtually every organization has faced and continues to be challenged by the pandemic and the “new normal”. We cannot help but wonder if understanding the individual Superpowers would help better unite the needed cross-organizational teams? Based on our experience, building on purpose and ensuring that each team is putting the superpowers of the individuals in the best possible use could help organizations to collaborate better. That’s where the systematic approach suggested in the Ecosystem Handbook could help.

PS. If you want to learn more about the approach, please get in touch with Ulla!

Leave a Reply