ROB: This is Rob Hassett with tellmesomethingidontalreadyknow.com. Today I’m going to be interviewing Marcus Harwood who is an expert in putting teams together and selecting people that should be on the teams. Marcus, how are you doing?
MARCUS: I’m good, Rob. I’m doing fine today. How are you?
ROB: I’m good. Marcus, tell me something that I don’t already know.
MARCUS: Well, I think the core of the work we do, Rob, is something that certainly 99% of companies out there don’t understand. When we ask companies: “Do you do your most important work, your most critical work, the work that your future of your company relies on in teams?” They respond: “Yes, it’s true.” And then we ask the question: “Okay, so what is your methodology for teaming? What’s your language for teaming? What science do you use for how you create mission-perfect teams?” Rob, they look at us like a deer in the headlights. They don’t have a clue. So, just to be sure, we say: “Look, let me get this straight. You do your most important work in teams, all the important critical decisions, all the new product development, all the strategy development in teams, yet you have no science, no language, no methodology to create those teams, is that correct?” And they say: “Yes, it is.” And they usually say “That doesn’t make much sense, does it?” And we say: “No, we don’t think so”.
MARCUS: So what we’ve done, Rob, is developed a science and methodology to fill that massive void. The other thing we’re trying to do is address our research that 38% of every dollar spent on employment costs, salary, and other employment costs is completely wasted. And when you start to do the math on how much money that represents for the typical company, it’s probably a bigger number than what they might be trying to generate with their ten biggest improvement initiatives, meaning it would dwarf all the other ten improvement initiatives they’ve got going on combined, if they could get rid of that 38 cents on the dollar they’re wasting. Because, as you know, salary and employment expenses are a big number.
ROB: Now the method you developed is called Method Teaming, right? That’s what you call it as I understand it?
MARCUS: Correct. Method Teaming.
ROB: And what have your results been like, using Method Teaming versus not using it, versus doing nothing in that way?
MARCUS: Yeah, so our results have been terrific. The amount of improvement depends, in part, on what part of companies that you’re talking about. If you’re talking about sales organizations, which is one of the areas that we work in, but certainly not the only one, I’ll tell you the story of one account team at HP and their experiences have been typical at HP and all the account teams we’ve worked with. Just by making an adjustment of adding one individual, one intellect to a particular team in HP, they were able to increase their run rate for the software, hardware and services they sold to one of their clients, which is one of the biggest banks in the world. When we started with them, their run rate was $350,000,000 per annum. Almost as soon as they added this one intellect that we had pointed out to them that was missing, their run rate went to $650,000,000 per annum. And then when this same resource, this extra person they added, when she went on extended medical leave about eleven months later, the run rate went back down to $350,000,000. When she came back after five months, the run rate went back up to $650,000,000. So you can see the effect of adding that one person with a different intellect can make all the difference in the world. But in order to determine that, you have to use some science to understand what’s missing, what are the weaknesses, and what are those weaknesses costing us, and how do we, with precision, find just the right individual that will fill that gap. That’s what we did for them, and then we’ve done that many times over at Hewlett-Packard. We have trained most of the account managers at HP.
ROB: Now you’ve mentioned the term intellect. How many intellects are there?
MARCUS: There are four primary intellects in our science. Would you like me to describe them a little bit?
ROB: What are they? Yes, please.
MARCUS: Well they are the PD, which stands for project director, but we don’t use that term anymore. We just say PD. And PDs are people who are very focused on getting work done. They are people that like to reuse processes, procedures, protocols, rules and structures. They are people that do not like to get it wrong, and they do want to get it right. Because they don’t want to get it wrong, they do their homework. They’re very analytical. They’re very careful. They don’t like risk.
ROB: They do best in school I take it?
MARCUS: They do the best in school simply because our school system is of the PDs, for the PDs, and by the PDs. PDs are about 55% of the population. So if you have a child who’s one of the other three intellects, our point of view is they’re not getting the preparation they need for life in our school system. And most of the school officials I’ve talked to absolutely agree with me on that point. Now going on to the other three intellects. One is called the Networker. And these are the people who are gifted in creating and sustaining and nurturing relationships. They’re all about two words, trust and empathy. The PDs are the work machines, the gears that go round and round to get our work done. Every machine needs to be lubricated, and the Networkers are the lubrication. Whereas the vast majority of PDs are introverted, the vast majority of Networkers are extraverted; but there are exceptions. The Networkers can read people like a book. They are the masters of reading the 93% of communication which is nonverbal communication. Any valid source out there will tell you non-verbal communication is about 93% of communicating. The Networkers are gifted at reading that 93%. But they don’t have a language for how they read it; they don’t have a method. Then there are the EQs, the third intellect. These are people that you and I would know as pure sales people. They are people who are moving fast in life. They’ve got a big foot on the accelerator of life, and no foot on the brakes. They’re willing to take a big risk for a big reward. They’re very comfortable in a situation or game where there’ll be one winner and all others will be losers. And they’re going to make it their business to try to be that winner. Because they are people moving in such a hurry. Rob, they learn how to communicate their ideas in quick, powerful sound bites. And that one ability fuels a disproportionate number of EQs becoming CEOs in our point of view? The final intellect is the strategist. Should I go on with that one?
ROB: Yeah, go ahead. That’s good.
MARCUS: Strategists are the people who can give us on-demand creativity any time any place. Their creativity comes from an ironic combination of a great strength and a great weakness. The great strength is that they see patterns that other people don’t see, and that leads them to a point outside the proverbial box. The great weakness is they are oblivious to protocols as well. The proverbial box is a form of a protocol. It’s not as though they see the box and choose to think outside of it. They don’t even see the box. Well, it’s a lot easier to think outside the box if you don’t see it. So that combination of that strength and that weakness gives them their creativity. And their ideas are definitely their babies. Most of them are very introverted, but there’s a sizable minority that’s extremely extraverted. So that’s kind of the penny tour, Rob, of the four intellects.
ROB: You said that PDs make up 55% of the population. What about the others?
MARCUS: Well the networkers are 20%. And the strategists are 7%. And the EQs are the balance.
ROB: The EQs are about 18%?
ROB: Can you tell how you determine what someone’s intellect is?
MARCUS: Well, there’s a couple of ways. But by far the best way, the most accurate way, is to use our science. And our science is very unique, compared to other companies using psychometric science. The vast majority of people using psychometric science out there to determine somebody’s intellect use only one instrument, which makes really no sense at all. We learned back in 1990-91, when I was a partner at Ernst & Young, that you can’t get it right with one instrument. You just can’t. The human intellect is far too complex to only look at one dimension of the intellect and try to make your determination from that. But most people who use psychometrics are using one instrument. And we learned back then we needed more than one. We needed two. And actually, when we found the best two in the world that work together, we realized there was still something missing, that we were only at about 95% accuracy. So when I started this company in early ’03, Rob, I knew I needed to find the right third instrument that would bring that accuracy up to right at a hundred percent. And I found that instrument in early ’03, and added that to make our “array” of three intruments. So we use three instruments, and then our intellectual property, Rob, sits above these three instruments and arbitrates any differences of opinion when the instruments disagree as to primary and secondary intellect, which is quite frequently. So that is how we determine intellect. Now if you’re a sales person and you’re trying to determine what intellect you’re selling to, because you know we teach you how to sell to each of the four intellects effectively. And, by the way, they each make their buying decision in completely different ways. So if you’re that salesman and you’re trying to figure it out, we give you some physical clues to determine somebody’s intellect and also teach you how to ask the right business appropriate questions that will lead you to an accurate determination of intellect, or at least as accurate as you can get without administrating instruments.
ROB: Oh you teach that, how to gauge what they may be as best as you can—
ROB: Without giving them a test.
MARCUS: Yes. And once you know what they are, we teach you exactly how to sell to them.
ROB: And what’s an example—
MARCUS: Think about that. If you don’t know that, you’re using one size fits all in terms of your selling approach, you’re frequently going to be wrong in how you’re trying to sell to somebody, and that’s why our batting averages for most sales people are quite low.
ROB: What would be your suggestion, or what is shown to be the best way to sell to PDs as opposed to EQs?
MARCUS: Well, remember the one liner we use for PDs is: they hate to be wrong. So if what you are selling to that PD gives them the ability to avoid being wrong more frequently, that’s very important. If, in what you’re selling, if you’ve got proof, these are people that want proof. Data. So when you’re selling to a PD, you want to provide them a lot of proof, a lot of data, a lot of examples of where whatever you’re selling has been used before to generate a value that is consistent with what the client PD is looking for. You want to convey either no risk for your product, or low risk, because PDs do not like risk. Complexity is okay when you’re selling to a PD, not okay selling to other intellects.
ROB: And what about EQs?
MARCUS: If you’re selling to an EQ, it’s completely different. Almost 180 degrees different. Whereas a PD wants the maximum information to make a very well researched, well-founded decision, the EQ’s point of view is give me the least possible information you can for me to make a reasonably well informed decision. I don’t need to know everything you know, nor do I want to, nor do I have time to hear everything you know. I just want to know the Pareto principle aspects of what you know that lead me to a place where I can make a pretty well-founded decision. So give me the least possible information you can, where as a PD says give me the most information you can. So quite different.
ROB: Now you mentioned secondary intellects. How does that fit in?
MARCUS: Well most people have a discernible secondary intellect and our array of instruments can detect that. For some people, the secondary intellect is almost as strong as the primary, never as strong, but almost as strong. And then for some people, the secondary intellect is quite distant. It’s in the picture, but barely in the picture. So we see any and all of those capacities. So generally speaking, if I give you work to do that’s in line with your primary intellect, Rob, you’re going to be very efficient. And we do this research in every class we teach, and our class members tell us that they’re somewhere between 90-95% efficient if we give them work aligned with their primary intellect. If we give them work that’s aligned with their secondary intellect, they’re going to be okay at it, but not great at it. So that efficiency drops down to about 70% efficiency when we’re giving you work that aligns with your secondary intellect. And, of course, when we give you work that’s diametrically opposite your primary intellect, that’s when productivity drops massively down to a number of about 40% efficiency. So you can see the difference between giving you work that’s in alignment with your primary intellect, which we call “Talent-Aligned” versus work that’s, say the opposite of your talent which we call “Talent-Opposed”. That work, that difference in productivity, is more than a hundred percent, meaning work that you’re naturally gifted to do, you’re going to be more than a hundred percent more productive at than work that we give you that’s diametrically opposite. The tragic thing is that most American jobs, a vast majority, are approximately a third talent-aligned, a third talent-neutral lining up with a secondary intellect, and a third talent-opposed. It’s just a terrible job that we’ve done in constructing these jobs. And there’s reasons why it’s so messed up, but we can go into that failure another day.
ROB: Well how would you change the schools to teach some of these other kind of, these kids with different intellects other than PDs?
MARCUS: Well, I think you’d first have to make the schools aware that there are kids with these four different intellects that they’re trying to teach. Now the problem is, even if you think that once you made them aware, they would fix the problem immediately, but that doesn’t tend to happen because it is the PDs who typically control the school system. It is the PDs that typically control the school system, and they’re very comfortable with the system the way it is. What is also tragically true is that many teachers, particularly when you get to the college level, they’re there for one primary reason, and that is because that environment allows that professor to learn more than any other environment, and the professor is usually highly motivated to acquire knowledge. And some will tell you: “The fact that I have to have students is a nuisance.” So those people, as you might suspect, are not too interested in changing the system. The system’s working fine for them, because they’re in a situation where they can acquire a lot of knowledge. So I think the first thing, Rob, is awareness. And then the second thing would be to generate, at some point in the future, understanding that you have kids of all four intellects and make some curriculum available to develop the kids who are Networkers to develop their skills more quickly so that they would be able to utilize those skills to be successful in life as Networkers. And to develop other skills that the Strategists need to be successful in their role, and develops other skills that the EQs needs. The EQ child, think about this, Rob, will go through our primary, secondary, high school, college education, possibly never having heard the words: sell or selling or sales. And yet, the majority of EQs will make their living as sellers. Tell me how that makes any sense.
ROB: Yeah, well it doesn’t.
MARCUS: No, it doesn’t.
ROB: Tell me a little about the history behind this field of putting teams together.
MARCUS: Well I can tell you the history around Method Teaming because that’s the history I lived. Is that what you’re asking for?
MARCUS: Yeah. Method Teaming is like a lot of things where you hear the expression necessity was the mother of invention. And that was definitely true in this case. The development of the crude predessessor to Method Teaming goes back to 1990-91. I was a partner with Ernest & Young Consulting. At that time, we were ranked sixth of a field of six firms in terms of the big six consulting. And into that situation, we brought a new leader. He came in and said that we were going to do two things and do them within five years. One was double revenue. We thought he was crazy. The second thing he said we were going to do was reduce the number of accounts we served from 2000 to 300, and those would be the 300 biggest companies in the world. I was fortunate in that he named me to his executive committee. So I’m listening to these two objectives for the first time, sitting with my fellow executive committee members, about twelve of us sitting around in a room, and I am thinking that the guy is crazy.
ROB: What numbers did he give you?
MARCUS: The most surprising things he said was that we’re going to double revenue in five years and while we’re doubling revenue, we were going to reduce the number of accounts we served from two thousand to three hundred, and the ones we were going to continue to serve were going to be the biggest companies in the world. And then he immediately broke us into committees to figure out how we would accomplish this. And through fate, good fortune, divine intervention, whatever you want to call it, he named me to be his co-chair for the People and Culture Committee. So, you know, when you’re the co-chair with the boss, you know who does the work, right, Rob?
ROB: Yeah, you do.
MARCUS: That’s right. So I was tasked with figuring out how we were going to do this on a people dimension. And the very first thing that I focused on was this: up until then, the entire big six, not just our firm, operated on the notion that if you were a partner, you sort of owned your own business. You had your own clients, you frequently used the same people in your engagements to deliver the work, and you didn’t team with another partner. That just wasn’t done. And it wasn’t done anywhere in the big six. You were a fiefdom unto yourself. And I always thought that was pretty ridiculous to be honest with you. Because different partners had different strengths, and we weren’t using each other’s strengths. But now this new boss gave us an opportunity to change that. And so in the end it was a deeply held cultural belief that if you were good enough to be a partner at Ernest & Young, you were good at everything, which, of course, is ludicrous. Well, I figured if we’re going to go from 2000 to 300 accounts, by definition, we’re going to have to have more than one partner on an account and we don’t know how to team together, so let’s search the world for a teaming methodology. And I wrote down ten attributes I wanted to have in that methodology. I launched two teams of bright young MBAs from schools like Harvard and Kellogg. I figured they’d be the best researchers. And I gave them the same mission; find a team methodology somewhere in the world that would do these ten things. They both came back at the end of 30 days, Rob, and said sorry, boss, we couldn’t find one. I said you got to be kidding me! You couldn’t find a methodology that does this? And they said no we couldn’t find one. I said well, okay, we are Big Six consultants, and by the way, I’m a strategist. I’m a creative guy. So, I said we’ll just have to create one. And that’s what we set out to do. We set out to create a methodology whose language made sense in the business world. That’s a big difference in what we have today versus what our competitors have. Most other people who use psychometric instruments use a clinical language suggested by the instrument. We do not. We use a business language that makes sense for business people, and then we translate the technical jargon and the technical math into this business language. At any rate, we started developing that methodology in 1990-91, as I’ve told you before. We eventually said we have to go to the world of psychometric instruments. We found the single best instrument on the market at that time, but it only gave us 78-82% accuracy. It’s a behavioral-based instrument. Then we added to that a motivational instrument. Shortly after acquiring the behavioral instrument which brought total accuracy up to 95%. And then it wasn’t until 2003 when I started my company that I found the right third instrument as I mentioned which brought our accuracy right up to 100%. So that’s some of the story of Method Teaming. And oh, I didn’t tell you the punch line of the story is that we doubled revenue in three years instead of five years at Ernest & Young Consulting. We moved from the number six firm out of six firms to the clear number two firm out of a four firm field by the end of the ‘90s. In other words, we were taking share from all of the other players at a very, very high rate, including the big dog in the market which was Accenture. We got to the point where we felt we could beat them regularly, and did. One unexpected benefit was that our income went up about 450% per partner in those first seven years. So we were doing well. Although we did a lot of things well to achieve that success, not just one, I will tell you that in my view the single most important thing we started doing is using each other’s strengths and teaming around each other’s weaknesses.
ROB: Well, Marcus, this has been very interesting and I’ve enjoyed talking to you today and learning more about Method Teaming. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
MARCUS: Well, I only want to say this. From a more humanistic point of view, our hope is that all people can find, that we can facilitate a process where they can find, what their natural gifts are, their natural talent, and that we can create a world where that natural talent can be used. That is extremely fulfilling for most human beings if you consider how many man-years we’re going to spend at the work place. We believe everybody should have work that they love, work that they’re naturally gifted at, and that’s easy for them, and not have to do work they hate. So that is another, I think, worthwhile reason that we look at a science like Method Teaming to help us do that.
ROB: Marcus, if anyone wants to get in touch with you, what is the best way?
MARCUS: Probably phone number would be the easiest for me to give you over this interview. (770) 919-0200. I’d love to talk to anybody that has questions about teaming.
ROB: Thanks a lot.
MARCUS: Thank you, Rob.