On teams, don’t be a “Lego.” Be critical or be the “glue.”

Over the last three years, I’ve spent considerable time flushing out ideas and building teams to realize those ideas. One thing I’ve noticed is that team members on the business side — the non-technical team assets — are seen in a paradoxical way. On the one hand, you need to have folks with strategic minds and business savvy to realize something; on the other hand, some times folks with technical backgrounds come to view the business people as “legos,” interchangeable parts that can be switched out easily with other lego pieces of similar or different configurations.

I first heard this when I was going through a tense transition among founders for a start-up. I was nervous that I would be relegated to a lesser pre-money equity share because everyone I was working with had strong technical experience. I confided in a friend who’s a tech professor at MIT. He said, “Dude, you’re designed to be a lego. You have to be seen as critical or the be seen as the glue that holds the team together and helps them get things done.”