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The Team of Geniuses—That Failed: A Business Parable.

If successful, the Body Voyager would change the face of medicine and create one of the most profitable companies in the world. What happened then?

When the Leadership Team of New Paradigm Corporation got together at corporate headquarters, the IQ level of the whole city sharply rose—these were not your average people.

New Paradigm began with highest expectations of its elite Leadership Team. The Founder of New Paradigm was a brilliant engineer in nanotechnology. She invented the microscopic, life extending “Body Voyager” that had the capability of navigating its way through the blood vessels of the body, surgically and chemically healing it cell by cell.

Body Voyager prevented and eliminated basic pathologies in a matter of minutes that have plagued mankind for ages. Incredibly, the procedure was out patient, and although expensive, it was a fraction of the cost of traditional treatment strategies. If successful, the Body Voyager would change the face of medicine and create one of the most profitable companies in the world.

The Body Voyager was a triumph for humanity and a product that was a potential cargo ship of 24 Karat gold for the company that owned it. The patent was secured, the clinical trials successfully completed, and the potential stream of revenue could dwarf Amazon.

Although this team had been put together with unprecedented care, the Leadership Team’s mission was a failure because their basic assumptions, methods, and metrics were deadly wrong. The company and product rose rapidly, gained popularity, and then it died.

The founder, who was chosen as the founding CEO, lost no time in putting together a group of powerful investors and Leadership Team. The vision of the CEO and board was to gain market share and sales in hospitals and to go public at the end of the first year.

1. New Paradigm Corp’s Assumptions Were Wrong. It all sounded right. New Paradigm Corp would be as lean and agile as possible, minimizing expenses and maximizing profits. Talent would be top. The members of the leadership team were chosen on the basis of academic success from recognized universities, as well as strong portfolios of professional successes. The chosen Leadership Team would be recognized professionals as scientists, logistics, marketing, sales, finance, and human resources.

What was to strangle New Paradigm was that their Leadership Team was never equipped to lead. They had competed all their lives for grades, titles, and recognition against those around them. Each member of the Leadership Team was known nationally and often internationally—but their working mode was competition, not collaboration.

They never realized that their prior differing experience and personal values would put them at impossible odds with one another. One thing they were agreed on, however, was that going through the process of forming as a Leadership Team was a waste of time as well as money. Their assumption was that intelligent people didn’t need off-sites, coaching, and alignment sessions to navigate the difficult waters of organizations. If you had the right degree and experience, you could figure out the rest, how to work with others.

The CEO was extremely charismatic and often spoke for hours about the opportunity before them—but the wars broke out in the Leadership Team almost immediately.

Deadlines were missed and the workforce was mystified by the mixed messages and double binds that the Leadership Team generated, always working to get their personal agenda heard and acted upon by their direct reports, who desperately wanted to succeed, but who couldn’t in the toxic environment that followed.

2. The Methodology of New Paradigm Went Sour. New Paradigm’s methodology would be a logistics system that rapidly delivered their product from point to point where physicians’ assistants would be largely launching and managing The Body Voyager under the direction of a few physicians who would be trained and have an ownership position in the new organization.

New Paradigm didn’t realize that rather than needing a laser fast delivery system, they needed an army of public relations staff, a legal team, and lobbyists to deal with the fire storm that their product, the Body Voyager, would unleash.

The Body Voyager was quickly savaged by the medical academic community because they had had no part of its development. New Paradigm had thought that they would be hailed as heroes by hospitals and physicians. However, the obvious truth was that this product had the potential of healing humanity, but it also had the potential of putting thousands of physicians and hospital administrators in the unemployment line.

The war in the New Paradigm Corp executive room was as intense as it was in the medical community. “How could the world be so blind?” was the initial Leadership Team response. “Our sales force doesn’t know how to sell this product,” was the next most popular response. Some of the Leadership Team called their senators suggesting an investigation of the hospitals as committing restraint of trade, because they were blocking this product. The final response was, “Why didn’t someone anticipate this before?”

3. The New Paradigm Leadership Team Chose the Wrong Metrics. Instead of being heroes, the medical community had united to defeat New Paradigm and the Body Voyager. Various teams of medical researchers were analyzing Body Voyager and found a non-life threatening flaw, but an opportunity to make the case to kill New Paradigm.

When Body Voyager made its way through blood vessels, it temporarily changed blood composition affecting some minor numbers, with no lasting effect at all. But because of this, key members of the medical community published articles in medical journals suggesting that the Body Voyager might cause serious blood diseases. Production and deployment of the device should be suspended—and the same senator they called to help them was at the forefront of the successful suspension initiative. New Paradigm collapsed and the most intelligent Leadership in the world failed and went their separate ways.

Epilogue: The alignment and coaching initiative that New Paradigm Leadership Members disdained and dismissed was actually its only salvation. They developed no ability to execute as a team nor the agility to change course. The lacked the ability to transition to a new organizational environment.

The alignment and team initiative that the New Paradigm Leadership Team thought was a useless, time consuming, and expensive exercise could have saved billions of dollars and hundreds of jobs, and brought to humanity a gift that they would not receive for over a decade after the failure of New Paradigm, when a similar product was developed and introduced by an executive team that had been trained in collaboration and team leadership.

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