Can dream teams exist?

Definition of a “dream team” in Steve Portigals & Niti Bahn’s article “Shopping for Innovation”

Not quite a hybrid, but pulling in some of the best of both worlds, is the DreamTeam, or Hollywood Model. This is where a team of specialists—often including employees of the hiring firm, the design firm, or experienced outside freelancers—are put together to take on a specific project. Collectively, they possess the expertise appropriate to the design challenge, and are handpicked in a very calculated way.

the full article:

Reading this, is there any such thing as a distinct “dream team” archetype? Rephrasing my question: Is a pure “hollywood-style” dream team a realistic idea?

This would be the magic formula:

dream team = specialist freelancers with temporary infrastructure

IMO, these are real-world blockers:

  • takes too long to find all the “specialists” (who knows who, who is available, who is “in the area”…
    -no standard way of working
    -where to find a dedicated rapid prototyping studio
    -finding office

So, in reality what will exist is:

dream team = big box (fixed infrastructure) + a few specialist freelancers

I there anyone who believes the pure “dream team archetype” can exist and has experience with one? (And can tell me a bit about these experiences?)

Yes. It can exist. But not until there are enough professional design managers that can act as a “General Contractor”. I know many GCs that make a ton of money because they have a skill set that most tradespeople don’t have. And who “work through the winter” because they know how to triage their workload.

Designers need to make space in their brains for the ‘MBA types’ to open up different business models and to create new contexts for success.

1.) Designers don’t like to share business ‘secrets’.
2.) Designers generally have outsized egos that often clash with different business types (BTW - an inherent personality trait that enables our work).
3.) Designers who love their work and excel at it, don’t enjoy managing.
4.) If I am so good at bringing in business, why do I need a Dream Team?
5.) If you are the quarterback, why am I bending over to snap you the ball?
6.) Three Words - ownership, ownership, ownership.

I’d like to hear more on this…

I guess that the “GC” is a very important factor in the equation, and as you say, they need to have a wide management skillset. But what about he design environment? What if you are able to manage the project and know how to do it right if your partners are not set up for this kind of business model? First of all, before the project can start at all, you will need to find the “specialists”. Where do you find them?
Let’s assume the role of the “GC” and his team is “design solutions” and not just “design services”, then this means that the specialists areas required for a specific project can be very widespread. It would be untinkable that the GC has such a network of his own.

So I assume he will need a middleman, an agent to get acces to the right people. I don’t know this area very well, but it seems to me that there aren’t that many “headhunter agencies” around these days. Also, to be really responsive, these agencies should have a very large database of clients that can be easily filtered on skillset, availability, price, etc etc.

I don’t know if this is the current state, it would be helpful if anyone has some info on this, I think is a very important factor to make dream teams a reality.

Beside that, you would also need a temporary infrastructure, you’ll need offices, modelshops, rapidprototyping, workstations (overhead). I guess another blocker these days is that business today isn’t “nomadic” enough. You want to rent office space, you’ll probably be signing for several years, you want to have a rapid prototyping studio? You can either go and rent it all (takes time and costly) or you go and make a deal with a studio (availability might be an issue and if not the prices will be high). You also don’t want to be to far from the RP studio. (you can already see that the “dream team” archetype is getting some “big box” traits here)

Another question to be asked is: are specialists sustainable in a format like

So, IMO, these are the main blockers:

  1. A project team model doesn’t allow for career growth as a functional model does; a lot of experienced designers (or specialist in general) will prefer to work within a model that has at least some functional structure in it (functional , balanced matrix and project matrix), which means that a traditional company structure of some sort is requiered (at this moment - in the future maybe new models can be created)

  2. There aren’t enough headhunter agencies around and they are not adaptive enough to provide a wide array of specialists in a short time. (supply and demand, probably this is dependent on nr.1)

  3. The business isn’t nomadic enough.

For dream teams to really exist, I guess these items have to be overcome even more so than changing the mindset of the designer, as was mentioned by guest 13. ( I believe there are quite some MBA-type designers out there, but they are still “latent”… business isn’t ready yet to think of designers as businessmen and without any demand, no supply.

dream team good
all star team, be careful:

i thought everyone knew by now that it’s not a question of design but rather what type of business model is supporting this dream team.

further, making a dream team is possible only if all the members agree with the same business model and this type of teaming up usually has a short life because it either works and turns into a permanent studio or dismantles due to a weak performance.

and rarely you see them doing freelance since it’s just not worth it unless the project yeilds a huge profit in a very short time that exceeds other expectations for all the individuals involved.

in all these cases what’s important is the initial process analysis. the members of the team should be able to see the project/s through before starting. if it fails the preliminary tests it wont work.

on the other hand if the dream team is not gathered by its own members rather by an outside entrepeneur all the responsibility lies on paper.

but a real dream tream doesn’t even need a GC. if they have the resources like a good budget, knowledge of manufacturing, and sales (which are common everyday issues in design and business) you can deliver.

finally, as steve and niti have mentioned it comes down to how talented these pros are and how much expertise and confidence there is combined.

Yes IDiot (are you sure you want to be called like this?), I think this is a very important element too. It’s not just about putting the best people together, it’s not just about hard skills, it’s also about soft (people) skills.

So this adds another hurdle to overcome: how to assess whether people fit in a team? Doesn’t it require some time of working together to know whether there is a fit? Doesn’t this imply that the “big box” archetype might be more successfull in supplying a “dream team” to a client altogether? At least they have a fixed pool of staff that they can observe, and then match the right personalities, together with the right skills.

There migth be a way of assessing someones fit in a future team though. Head hunters could try and incorporate personality info into their data:They could request you to do a personality test (MBTI for instance), but I guess the most efficient way would be that your “role” in the team is evaluated at the end of the project, and fed back to the headhunter. But this info needs to be objective and done by an independent party, and you might not want to give in on your right to "sell yourself "in the business (on honest grounds or not) too. These tests and evaluations are done in companies anyway, so I don’t see that as a problem per se, but the advantage for a “bad employee” is that he can change jobs and have his “team fit history” as much as erased, while, when it is fed-back to a headhunter, it’s to remain in his files like a “criminal record”.

These are my blockers for now:

1. A lot of specialist won’t be interested to be working in a dream team archetype. (A project team model doesn’t allow for career growth as a functional model does)
2. It’s hard for headhunters to find the hard skills required for the project (where to find the specialists)
3. It’s hard for headhunters to assess the soft skills of the specialists to make the team “work”
4. The business partners supplying the required temporary infrastructure aren’t flexible enough (don’t think “nomadic”)

If anyone has doubts on these blockers, or solutions to them, I’d be pleased to hear!

many of these questions Steve and I discussed on over the past 6 months. We started this blog as an offshoot of the original discussion that led to the article, shopping for innovation. In this blog, Does Size matter? we thrashed out much of the discussion on this board. Why not browse through the archives there first?

maybe in paris.

the whole point about a dream team is that it shouildn’t take more than a few days until they have a dynamic program.

head hunters can be hired either way. dream teamers though, will best avoid a third party because that would immediately make them ordinary designers with regular experience.
this’s the question you should ask yourself:
does the headhunter have any idea what your function is in a highly professional team? nope. because headhunters make their living out of clients who want permanent players not candidates that don’t even have the interest to remain at one spot for more than three months. it just won’t be beneficial to any of the three sides involved.

1- true to some extent, but in a floating economy things will be different.
2- already answered.
3- ^
4- partners- flexible- nomadic- this’s too vague. if anyone wants to assemble a team must first set conditions/rules and then find people that fit the plan. if they form a team and then they find out it’s not gonna work what does that tell you?

…rare, but they do exist…i was fortunate enough to be selected for such…the team was recruited and working in 30 days…the project lasted about 9 months from concept sketch to final working prototypes…it came about because the managing director of the project couldn’t or didn’t want to use internal resources (i was never quite sure which was really the case)…anyway, it was one of the best experiences of my career…unfortunately the company changed directions and the prototypes were mothballed, even after several successful consumer research trials and exhibitions…go figure.

Yes, I have also been working on such a project where all the team members were “picked at hand”, but in my case the experience was not as good though. Bad management and lacking infrastructure…

That aside, what Ii really try to get to the bottom to in this discussion, is can real hollywood-style dream teams exist. And by that I mean a team that is handpicked to suit the project, but also an infrastructure that is set up just for this project. No “existing company” involved; the team and the infrastructure is created specifically for the project and dissolved afterwards. Anybody has had any experience working in this kind of model?