The Secret to Your Success? Make Others Successful

July 3, 2013 — 90 Comments


Illustration by Beau Bergeron / IDEO

We don’t have many rules at IDEO, but we do have some cultural values that we take seriously because we feel they make our teams more effective. We prototyped these values for a couple decades before we set them in print. One of them is to Make Others Successful. This might not seem like an obvious value for a group of creative types. After all, we often think of creativity as a competitive sport. The person who racks up the most ideas most often is the most valuable player. Unfortunately, not all MVPs are team players.

At IDEO, we’ve found that people who are obsessed with their own ideas aren’t very good at collaborating with others. And if you’re trying to solve complex problems—which we’re often asked to do—you need multiple minds working together to arrive at the best solutions.

Helping others to be successful benefits you, too. Even the most brilliant person occasionally gets “stuck.” In a culture that values the lone genius, where politics and rivalries rule, no one is motivated to help that person get “unstuck.” Projects stall and good ideas languish. In an ecosystem where helping others is the norm, however, everyone benefits. When you need it, help is only an email away.

During job interviews, l listen for a couple things. When people repeatedly say “I,” not “we,” when recounting their accomplishments, I get suspicious. But if they’re generous with giving credit and talk about how someone else was instrumental in their progress, I know that they give help as well as receive it. It’s also a good sign if they’ve spent time teaching. Nothing proves one’s commitment to making others successful like taking a group of students under your wing. To me, teachers are the real MVPs.

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Tim Brown


90 responses to The Secret to Your Success? Make Others Successful

  1. A team is like a chain, everything works because of the other. Is essential to have respect for one another and always value the ideas, all members have to be one.

  2. Knowledge increases by sharing & happiness increases in the company.

  3. Sharing & caring is the key to succes

  4. As a facilitator/consultant, setting the stage for creative solution-finding helps participants realize that they, too, can co-create and problem-solve on their own. I much prefer that over the typical “here, do this” approach to consultancy.

    I’m really excited to learn new ways of facilitating and consulting. I’m also ready to learn more about my own creative process.

  5. TEAM = Together Excellence Always Manifest

  6. TEAM= Together everyone achieves more

  7. stella moncada July 29, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I love to learn i’ts something that I really like it, I’m so making a teams to work together and learn from others.

  8. At work I am part of a team that shares information and are willing to help each other to improve our job ( education)

  9. Many minds working to solve a problem and at a same time, could multiply their chances to find out many solutions.

  10. Elizabeth Robles July 29, 2013 at 10:04 am

    An idea, a thought, is reinforced when shared.

  11. One of the things I like the most when I work in teams, is the things we can actually learn from each other. Each others point of view and experience. Specially when we receive and give truthfull and respectfull feedback, composed by:
    1) at least one thing that is really good
    2) one thing that could be better
    3) one suggestion

    When a team has deffined common goals… it makes all the difference!

  12. James Rodríguez July 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Good text!
    When We are working with others, we must to have a constant learn attitude, from the teachers, and from my colleagues team. And prepared us to accept other ways to resolve problems.

  13. I 110 % agree with Tim on this piece. Its hard to function in the 21st century without the importance of being in a team. By working with a team, each member apply different skills and they are often able to come up with a more effective solution than one individual person working on that particular problem.

    Plus, mutual support can have the benefit of encouraging people to reach their desired goals they may not have realised they could achieve on their own.

  14. In the article Tim Brown states that IDEO doesn’t have many rules, but they support a Team culture. He is right to note the difference. Teamwork is not something that is dictated by management, but something that is heart-felt by members throughout the culture. That distinction and the effort to perpetuate such a culture is what makes the difference in organizations.

  15. A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.
    -Simon Sinek

  16. Having connection with others makes man more thinkable & innovative so,I want to work under multiple ideas storming my mind

  17. David Christer July 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Competition limits collective growth but collaboration can realise our full potential.

  18. Alberto Salas July 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    we need to trust in our team, it is a way to get further

  19. Edith León Orellana July 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Buenas noches, trabajar en grupo es entender al otro, escucharlo y respetarlo, de esta manera podremos complementar ideas de trabajo. Si un momento podemos entrar en crisis y disutir, eso nos permitirá poner nuestras ideas en debate, y tal vez, mejore mi punto de vista, o tal vez, mi compañero vea otra forma de enfrentar el problema. Lo importante es tener paciencia para saber escuchar, eso te lo da la vida, la edad y las situaciones por la cuales uno pasa y, asi nos fortalecemos y crecemos.

  20. Angel Paul Hurtado Erazo July 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    The team is very more strong than individual talent, and their mindset is more flexible and broad. The team can get it any thing.

  21. Yahaira mosquera July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Otra regla será lograr un buen trabajo en equipo. Lograr un buena interacción y compresión entre el grupo. Lograr una comunicación excelente entre el equipo.

  22. Respect and commitment i think are the most important things in a teamwork. Also to have a waterclear objective and in a creative process never say: yes, but… “But” is not alowed, let the team express themselves freely.

  23. Felipe Jimenez July 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    You should yourself in the team, and avoid group thinking.

  24. a big mind is a smart mind. Many hearts synergize. Synergy… 1+1=3… plus it’s way funner working with other people! 🙂

  25. Franco Rodríguez July 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    “Teachers are the real MVPs” <- what a great quote. I'm convinced that we can learn better from a team than from a book or from ourselves 🙂

  26. Nelly López Moreno July 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Teamwork is build enthusiasm, generates good results, shared responsibility to seek solutions from different points of view

  27. Teams are imperative in brainstorming for solutions… Einstein said you can not solve a problem with the mind that created it.

  28. It always amazing to be part of other’s success. It gives you satisfaction deep inside. When you take yourself out of the piece, you will completely enjoy.

  29. Viviana Pena-Cavassa July 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    A chain (aka TEAM) is as weak as its weakest piece (aka MEMBER)! We all care about each other or we´re in trouble!

  30. Miranda Popen July 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    I agree as well. From a team leader who developed off of team work, this man has a wonderful quote to sum up what he left him with an incredible life as an influential advisor for innovators “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

  31. Primero que todo trabajar en equipo significa compaginar con todos, llevando al éxito el debido proceso.

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