Dream Teams & Spectacular Success

(See “Getting Your Money’s Worth From Professional Conferences” below.)

Put Your Dream Team Wheel On Your Path to Spectacular Success

Situational Ingredient Examples


Research Reveals A Dream Team Formula

By looking at successful Broadway musicals and landmark scientific papers, researchers identified a dream team formula. See the citations following Dream Team Formula #1.

Rookie Rewards

The researchers discovered that a team without a rookie is not a dream team.

“You need someone new to get the creative juices going so you don’t get trapped
in the same ideas over and over again.”
A. Nunes Amaral

How many of your teams are currently enjoying the rookie rewards of creative juices?


More Dream Team Formulas

Since reading this research, Paula M. Kramer has identified other dream team formulas. The formula you need depends on the function of your team:

Creating a new version of something that’s been done before

Creating something entirely new

Improving a community

Giving people the skills they need to succeed

Providing recommendations for success based on research

Repeatedly performing a challenging task in demanding circumstances

Caring for an individual in need

Paula will add dream team formulas as she identifies them.


Spectacular Success

While making her documentary about the Midwest Renewable Association’s annual energy fair, Paula M. Kramer identified the ingredients for spectacular success. The ingredients focus on working with others and satisfying others. For instance, spectacularly successful Southwest Airlines purposefully hires people who are cooperative. Those cooperative employees create continuing success for Southwest Airlines because they work with each other and satisfy each other.

Paula’s subsequent research revealed a variety of paths to spectacular success.

To put your dream team wheel on your path to spectacular success, download the PDF files at the top of the page and follow the instructions. The 7 Dream Team Steps download will identify the other PDF files you will need to get started towards spectacular success.


Dream Team Formula #1


Creating a new version of something that’s been done before


Old hands who had been colleagues on another team/project
Old hands working together for the first time
One rookie


Groups that brought plays to Broadway
Teams that published high impact science papers

A team of researchers identified this formula. They used the Broadway musical West Side Story as one example of this dream team formula.

The number of functions necessary for the task determined the size of the team. Each team member worked on one function.

The researchers described a dream team as “the right balance of diversity and cohesion”. Diversity means new collaborations. Cohesion means repeat collaborations.

Broadway Musical Dream Teams Have Members Who Perform Specific Tasks

Using the research into dream teams, you could build your team with members who are each responsible for one task. Everyone will know who is responsible for what. Collaboration will be more effective.

“The production of Broadway musicals requires six key, freelance production professionals:
a composer, a lyricist, a librettist who writes the plot and dialogue, a choreographer,
a director, and a producer.”

“Collaboration and Creativity: The Small World Problem”
October 1, 2007

“Dream Teams Thrive On Mix Of Old And New Blood”
Northwestern University
May 3, 2005

“Recipe for building ‘dream teams’ revealed”
Shaoni Bhattacharya
New Scientist
April 28, 2005


Dream Team Formula #2


Creating something entirely new
(Also see Dream Team Formula #3)


One old hand
Rookie colleagues


Richard Perez, Home Power Magazine
Founding members of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association

Old hand Richard Perez called for a people’s renewable energy fair in Home Power Magazine. He was tired of renewable energy fairs inside big cement buildings hosted by corporations. The rookies who answered his call founded the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. Their annual renewable energy fair is now the longest running and most successful renewable energy fair in the world.

A number of the rookies had worked together creating a food cooperative. Other rookies were strangers to everyone. All of the rookies were new to hosting a renewable energy fair.

The Energy Fair: Getting Our Energy from the Sun for 20 Years
Midwest Renewable Energy Association, 2009

Renewing Energies: The Ingredients for Spectacular Success
Paula M. Kramer, 2007


Dream Team Formula #3


Creating something entirely new
(Also see Dream Team Formula #2)


Old hands who are rookies at the task
Old hand colleagues who are rookies at the task


The media team of eight people who got voters to the polls
to vote for presidential candidate Barack Obama

These eight people were all old hands at social media. Some were old hand colleagues at campaign work. All were in their twenties. The “old hands” designation depends on experience, not age. This group created a first time ever Internet platform to mobilize the grassroots community that got Barack Obama elected president.

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries
Peter Sims
Free Press, pages 55-58


Dream Team Formula #4


Improving a community


Government leaders
Business leaders
Nonprofit innovators
Celebrity donors


Clinton Global Initiative

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) brought people from different sectors around the world together to discuss solutions and commit to action. Each action plan had to be new, specific, and measureable.

Whether or not you like the Clintons, this formula is a dream team formula. It includes the diversity necessary for dream team success. Even if the team members are rookies at improving communities, they are old hands in their own fields. Making sure the team includes old hand colleagues provides cohesion. See Dream Team Formulas #1 and #3.

Use this formula with requirements that measure commitment and success. The Clintons, for instance, did not invite donors back to meetings if they failed to donate what they promised to donate.

“How Clinton Changed Philanthropy”
Bryan Watson
Time Magazine
October 1, 2012

“Nearing its second decade, how will CGI evolve?”
Floyd Whaley
September 16, 2013


Dream Team Formula #5


Giving people the skills they need to succeed


Old hands training rookies to become posses of rookie colleagues
helping each other succeed


The Posse Foundation

Using its Dynamic Assessment Process, the Posse Foundation identifies promising high school students from cities across the country. These students come together in posses of 10 to learn team building, group support, cross-cultural communication, leadership, becoming agents of change, and academic excellence. Posses attend college together and help each other succeed. Posse members have a 90% graduation rate.



Dream Team Formula #6


Providing recommendations for success based on research


Old hands and old hand colleagues working to benefit a rookie


Consortium of Behavioral Scientists

Consortium of Behavioral Scientists (COBS) was a group of academic advisers working to benefit President Barack Obama. President Obama was an old hand politician, but he was a rookie in behavioral science. COBS suggested ways for Obama’s 2012 campaign to counter false rumors, characterize Mitt Romney, and get voters to the polls.

“Academic ‘Dream Team’ Helped Obama’s Effort”
Benedict Carey
The New York Times
November 12, 2012


Dream Team Formula #7


Repeatedly performing a challenging task in demanding circumstances


Old hand colleagues who are both people-oriented (can have fun with each other)
and task-oriented (are good at the task) with a broad range of backgrounds and
personalities who take on a new challenge together


Network, the team with the most wins in the worlds’ largesy Trivia contest.
Thom Aylesworth organized Network when he was about 15 years old.

Trivia is hosted through the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point, Wisconsin (UWSP).

Thom Aylesworth chose friends he thought would be good at the game and be fun to play with. He purposefully chose friends from a broad range of backgrounds with different personalities. When he made these decisions. Aylesworth’s reason for starting the team was to take advantage of an opportunity to stay up late and have fun with friends. Most of Network’s original members are still on the team.

Network lost for the first several years, but kept moving up in the rankings. They placed 1st through 3rd for at least 30 years. They began as all rookies and become old hand colleagues together.

Triviatown (Documentary)
Trivial Pictures, 2006


Dream Team Formula #8


Caring for an individual in need


One RookieExpert and multiple ExpertRookies


Richard (Dick) Norris Williams II, Titanic survivor and tennis champion
from Geneva, Switzerland

At age 21, Dick Williams boarded the Titanic with his father, Charles. He planned to play in tennis tournaments before attending Harvard University. After the collision with the iceberg, Williams broke a door to help a trapped passenger escape.

Dick watched a collapsing forward funnel crush Charles and several other passengers to death. Already swimming as the ship sank, the wake from the collapsing funnel pushed Dick towards Collapsible A, a boat in which survivors had to stand in waist deep water. Dick had to cling to the side for some time before being able to climb aboard. Only 11 of the approximately 30 people on board Collapsible A survived the cold. Dick eventually transferred into lifeboat 14. Frigid water still covered Dick’s legs. The Carpathia steamship rescued Dick Williams along with other survivors.

Dick Williams suffered frostbite to his legs. The doctor on board the Carpathia recommended immediate amputation of both legs to prevent gangrene from setting in. Other medical professionals on the Carpathia undoubtedly agreed with the doctor. The medical professionals were ExpertRookies. They were experts in medicine, but rookies at what Dick Williams was willing to do to protect his legs. Dick Williams was the RookieExpert. Dick was a rookie at medicine, but he was the expert at what he was willing to do to protect his legs.

Dick Williams said no to the amputation, then walked as much as he could to get the blood moving in his legs. He walked until he had to sleep, then woke up after two hours to walk again. He followed this routine daily for the remainder of the trip to New York. Six weeks later, RookieExpert Dick Williams won a tennis tournament.

“From Titanic Survivor and Near Amputee to Hall of Fame Tennis Champion- The Story of Dick Williams”
Today I Found Out
May 31, 2017

Mr Richard Norris II Williams
Encyclopedia Titanica


The Rookie Factor

Thom Aylesworth was only about 15 years old when he put together a team that became the winningest team in Trivia history (Dream Team Formula #7). A 15 year old rookie came up with a dream team formula all by himself. Thom demonstrates why every team should have at least one rookie.


The Orientation Factor

Using the formulas does not necessarily guarantee a dream team. You can increase your chances of success by paying attention to task and people orientation.

Match people-oriented people to people-oriented positions.

Match task-oriented people to task-oriented positions.

Match people who can perform a task cooperatively with other people to positions that require both task and people skills.

Visit the website below for information on identifying behavior styles. The Quick Look section in S&R Keys will help you identify people with both task and people skills. S&R Keys is a PDF download on the website’s home page.



The Friend Factor

We often enjoy working with our friends, but sometimes we shouldn’t work with them. The research team that discovered the formula for creative dream teams (Formula #1) found that the least successful teams were composed of people who had all worked together before, as in friends working only with friends.

On the other hand, Network (Formula #7) is a dream team of only friends who have worked together for decades. The difference lies in team function. Team creativity requires a wide variety of perspectives in situation, education, experience, age, gender, culture, race, connections, region of origin, etc. Repetitive tasks require mastered techniques. While Network’s team includes members from a broad range of backgrounds with different personalities, they were similar ages living in the same area when the team was born. They had similarities as well as differences.

Work with friends when they fit the function of your team. Be understanding when you don’t fit the function of a friend’s team.

If you want to work only with your friends, find a repetitive and challenging task in demanding circumstances. Then you can have all kinds of fun while becoming old hand colleagues together.


Getting Your Money’s Worth From Professional Conferences

If you pay for professional conferences that include panel discussions and keynote speakers, get your money’s worth. Use the dream team formulas above and the research below to let conference organizers know you expect dream panels. Based on all the research, these are my recommendations for dream panel formulas:

3 person panel

2 old hand colleagues
1 rookie

4 person panel

1 old hand
2 old hand colleagues
1 rookie

5 person panel

2 old hands
2 old hand colleagues
1 rookie

Rookies should have something to add to the discussion, of course:

An admirable accomplishment

A good story

A large network of people with diverse backgrounds and skills

The research below also applies to keynote speakers. A roster of keynote speakers from the same profession at the same professional level, for instance, means you are not getting your money’s worth. If difference is key to success in in all of the dream team examples, how can sameness be good in keynote speakers? Even with keynotes, a rookie with an admirable accomplishment or good story would provide valuable insights. Conferences could also present speakers who talk about how to find different perspectives. I’ll give you one example.

The late Ken Hendricks founded ABC Supply in Beloit, Wisconsin. As his business grew, Hendricks bought other businesses. Before he bought any business, Hendricks sought out different perspectives within that business.

“Walk in the back room and talk to the warehouse guy or the forklift operator
and say, ‘If you were running this business, what would you do differently?
I guarantee if you fixed what they tell you, 95 percent of the time that would
be a successful business. These guys hit it on the head all the time.
But management never asks them.”

Ken Hendricks became a billionaire because he asked for different perspectives from people that management always ignored.

You need conference organizers to stop ignoring the people whose different perspectives could benefit you. Tell conference organizers you want keynote speakers who are different from each other so you can hear the different perspectives you need to be more successful in your own career.

Professional speakers could cite all the research here to conferences organizers. They could explain their differences and what their different perspectives can offer conference participants. Speakers who can provide Benefits Talk about their participation with people who were different in some way should do so.

Note the Minority Rules article below. Only 10 percent of conference participants demanding to get their money’s worth is necessary to improve the conference experience for everyone.


Outsiders & Rookies

The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Influence
Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein, and Robert B. Cialdini

Chapter 7
“What small BIG can help you to become wiser with experience?”
Recommendations on page 34

Invite a less involved colleague to meetings with clients. The uninvolved colleague is likely to ask new questions that uncover new opportunities.

Have new recruits shadow best performers and longest-standing performers working with clients. The new recruits would gain valuable experiences for working with clients, and the experienced performers would gain new insights from their clients.

The authors summarize these approaches as “exchanges of new information and informal catch-ups”.


“Recipe for building ‘dream teams’ revealed”
Shaoni Bhattacharya
New Scientist
April 28, 2005

“Amaral says the results suggest that businesses could recruit outside their industry to produce a successful team, provided the newcomer is surrounded by established colleagues.”



“The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off In The Knowledge Economy”
Scott Page

Cited in “How Diversity Powers Team Performance”
January 4, 2018

“As evidence begins to accumulate, it’s becoming clear that you want smart people who think differently, who have been trained differently, went to different schools, have different knowledge bases.”


“Want A More Innovative Company? Simple: Hire A More Diverse Workforce”
Ben Schiller
Fast Company
January 12, 2018
(Study of 3000 publicly traded companies during the years 2001 to 2014)

“It’s good for business. It not only helps in terms of perception. It actually produces better outcomes.”


Ken Hendricks

“How To Buy A Business”
Inc Magazine
December 1, 2006


Paula M. Kramer, 2010
All rights reserved.
Last updated November 14, 2022.