The Great Escape: Designing Your Team’s Journey to the Marketplace

How do you galvanize your disparate team into a crack squad of innovators? How do you synthesize multiple perspectives and talents? How do you lead people out of the office and through unfamiliar marketplace terrain?

Getting to Market

The Great Escape: Designing Your Team’s Journey to the Marketplace

How do you galvanize your disparate team into a crack squad of innovators? How do you synthesize multiple perspectives and talents? How do you lead people out of the office and through unfamiliar marketplace terrain?

Matt Kelly

Matt Kelly

Matt Kelly is a Partner and Business Designer at Do Tank
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The World War II ‘Division of Labor’ Movie

I have always enjoyed ‘division of labor’ World War II movies like The Guns of Navarone, The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and Where Eagles Dare. You have your demolitions expert, marksman, multi-linguist, and probably Anthony Quinn. When the gang first convenes, they are like misfits in search of an answer to “why the heck would anyone put me in this group?.” You see both the disaffected and the gung-ho postures in the beginning as they try to figure out who the person sitting next to them is and why they were chosen. 

In these movies, it isn’t until the going gets tough that the band identifies what they have in common and everything starts to click. The esprit de corps blooms and the possibilities of their talents really go on display. You see the reason why they were selected by the General/Big X/Major Reisman character to be on the team in the first place.

How do you create the conditions under which internal politics melt away and the team is able to quickly galvanize around their own shared identity? How can you create the conditions under which they are constantly refreshing their own energy and feeding off each other?

Leading Project Teams to Amazing Results

As a leader, it is essential to create an environment that bypasses the slog of internal politics and small talk, one that will galvanize the team early on and lead to creative, efficiently built results. You need to build an environment where they need to depend on each other and there is no time for petty posturing.

The best way to do this is to have groups create their own strategy in an intense but inspiring environment. Timebox design exercises to reduce the “blah, blah, blah”. Use visual design tools (such as the business model canvas) that serve as a common framework to bring those different perspectives and talents together.

Let’s say you are working on finding new value propositions or business model options which you want to get to market – your team may have a finance person on it, someone tuned into marketing, and a sales professional (your version of the ‘division of labor team’). Start with having the TEAM build out their own charter that defines the way they will work together. Then empower them to build out different options.

Lead them out into the marketplace to validate assumptions, but fill them with the adventurer’s spirit. Don’t let them fall victim to ‘Launch Paralysis’ (see Gustavo Razetti’s excellent article on this). You are going out into the wild armed only with ideas and faith in each other. Not only is this approach – design, test, hire Anthony Quinn – filled with the potential for finding growth in the market, there are also few better ways to bring your team together and align them on a vision for the future.


If you’d like hands on experience with our best practices when it comes to getting your product to market, register for a free 90-minute whiteboard session, and we’ll make sure you hit the ground running.

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