One of the strangest phenomena in chemistry is a supercritical fluid: A substance, which is at a temperature and pressure above its critical point, suddenly gains almost magical properties: Liquid and gas phases no longer exist, it passes through solids like a gas, and it dissolves other substances like a liquid.
A supercritical fluid is also subject to power laws, where input no longer results in a proportional output: Small changes in pressure or temperature result in large changes in density.
The bizarre properties of supercritical fluids remind me of my work with high performance teams. They either pass through obstacles as if they don’t exist, or they simply dissolve them. Furthermore, they reap exponential benefits from small consistent actions.
The analogy does not end here: If you want to build a high performance team, you must bring the group to operate above its critical point, characterized by a high energy-state, driven by a compelling vision, and a bias for massive action.
Here is a great question for any team to jumpstart this process and become supercritical: What would we dare to pursue if we knew for certain we could not fail….