• Rebecca Wiggins

Blog #3 Week 4

Blog #3 Week 4

The Benefits and Risks of Homogenous Teams

Chapter 4, The Founder’s Dilemmas

What are homogenous teams? These are teams of people from the same age, race, gender, or background. It’s simply a group of people that have a lot of similarities. Homophily is the attraction of people to each other that have these similarities. Remember the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” (Wasserman, 2013, Loc No. 1426).

Here are 2 immediate issues of homogenous teams:

(a) Whether the founding team should be homogeneous or diverse?

(b) Whether to found a startup with family or close friends?

Homogeneity Versus Diversity

Homogeneous teams are 46 times more likely to found companies together (Loc no. 1429). Homophily powerfully affects the formation of founding teams by individual’s work experience. The greater the teams average years of work experience, the more variation there would be within the team due to young people. Young people have exciting ideas recruiting experienced cofounders to help them build the startup. Young cofounders are more up to date with the latest technology and social trends.

Short-term Benefits of Homogeneity

Speed! A cofounder from people we have important things in common is the quickest and easiest solution.

· It takes less time to find people who are like me in an important way.

· It takes less time to develop effective working relationships with people who are like me.

· When we share a background with other founders, we share a common language for the most effective communication.

· Trust develops faster and more effective. This is because we already understand each other and skip over part of the learning curve that absorbs the energies of people with different backgrounds.

· It’s easier to access similar people.

Diverse Teams:

Some studies show the greater the heterogeneity, the greater the risk of interpersonal and affective conflict, and lower group-level integration. The greater the heterogeneity among executive team members, the greater the risk of interpersonal and affective conflict (loc No. 1452). People run into problems if their differences result in conflict and not being open to each other’s different ideas.

Longest-term Risks of Homogeneity

Homogeneous teams have overlapping human capital making it likely the team has redundant strengths and miss critical skills. Heterogeneous teams are prone to internal conflict.

Founders fight their homophilic tendencies by taking a structure approach to defining the startup’s needs for human, social, and financial capital, assessing the gaps, and seeking cofounders who can fill them.

Down the road, they find out that their best friends share the same business skills and unfortunately, the same weaknesses. Diversity is the functional background of team members and it’s especially important in turbulent contexts. It enables teams to quickly adapt to changes. Founding teams with shared work experience at a prior company are likely to use “exploitation” strategy “a founding friend relationship can have too much stability, not enough change to grow the company or to grow with the company.” (location 1486).

As people suffer, friendships can suffer as people try to balance being nice and being business. Founders focus on diversity in skill sets. Diversity in networks also deserves attention. Teams with divine networks are very creative (loc No. 1498).

The Role of founders in building teams

“To avoid the "Me Incorporated" syndrome, you need to create strategic and tactical plans representing your solutions for recruiting, hiring, training, developing, compensating, and retaining personnel.” (Lahm).

3 steps for building an A-Player Team

1) Develop an A-player mind set

2) Interview all the time

3) And develop your company’s “farm team.” (Herrenkohl, 2010, loc No. 289).

Building my company’s brand attracts A-player employees as much as it attracts customers. My future managers and employees have to work with me to find new A players, then develop good leadership practices to make my investment in these A-players pay off. In order to be a great leader I must be a great recruiter (Loc No. 295).

No matter the size of our organization, we need people who possess hard and soft skills necessary to do a specific job. I need people that are willing to be practice, that take ownership of their work and think independently. My people are proactive, and problem solve.

“Before you take the entrepreneurial plunge, decide what kind of business you want to create. If you ask for something bigger, and justify it, you may just have a chance of making it happen.” (Lahm).


Herrenkohl, Eric. How to Hire A-Players: Finding the Top People for Your Team- Even If You Don’t Have a Recruiting Department. 1st ed., Kindle ed., Wiley, 2010.

Lahm, Dr. Robert. “Starting Your Business: Avoiding the ‘Me Incorporated’ Syndrome.”

EzineArticles, 2005, EzineArticles.com/84345.

Wasserman, Noam. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can

Sink a Startup (The Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship). Illustrated, kindle ed., Princeton University Press, 2013.


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