The Power of One-Pizza Teams
There is a saying that has been incredibly formative for me in how I think about teamwork:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Whether I was coding, selling, or launching something, I could do things fast by myself. However, it was only when I had a team that meaningful outcomes were achieved.
A perfect example was a community I launched several years ago. It started small in NYC as a monthly meetup. Then people in different places reached out asking if there was a chapter in their city to join. So I went on the road to Boston to start that group. Then I journeyed to Philadelphia and Washington DC to open those chapters.
Then the floodgates opened. There were chapters in Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and elsewhere. I racked up 30 roundtrip flights in three months, including one trip that took me from New York, to London (via Zurich), to Boston, to Denver, and then back to NYC. Clearly it was impossible for me to continue at this pace.
I started reaching out to the most active members in the different chapters to see if they wanted to join the team. I had no idea what this team would be, but I figured that sharing the workload between several of us would be significantly better than one person doing all the organizing, promotion, and managing.
There were bumps along the way in building the team. Some were not committed. Others were flaky and disorganized. Then there were some that were so domineering, they repelled people in the community. This led to miscommunication, conflicts, and delays in rolling out new procedures and programs.
Though the team building was slow, the outcomes were well beyond what I had imagined. This team of leaders enabled the community to expand to 24 cities across three continents while maintaining a monthly cadence of high quality meetups. The community grew to over 30,000 members with many in the community sharing how their careers changed for the better.
When I chat with startup CTO’s, one of their favorite moments in the journey are the early days. Besides the fact…