Build an A-Team - Deepstash
Build an A-Team

Build an A-Team

Whitney Johnson


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The S Curve of Learning

The S Curve of Learning

S curve math illustrates the trajectory of learning a new skill, with a slow start, rapid progress, mastery, and eventual decline.

Understanding this validates the early struggle and prevents discouragement. With consistent practice over time, competence and confidence increase exponentially.

But mastery brings boredom, requiring jumping to a new S curve through horizontal movement to new skills or vertical to greater complexity.


270 reads


Lead each person on your team up the learning curve. Better morale and higher performance happen through learning.



219 reads

How to Accelerate Growth

How to Accelerate Growth

Seven techniques accelerate learning and promote growth across the S curve:

  1. Embracing smart risks,
  2. Leveraging distinctive strengths,
  3. Imposing constraints,
  4. Battling entitlement,
  5. Stepping back to grow,
  6. Accepting failures, and
  7. Remaining discovery-driven.


212 reads

Recruiting and Hiring

Recruiting and Hiring

  • Recruit people excited to learn who bring diverse strengths to start fresh curves.
  • Seek managers who spot talent, accelerate learning, and jump employees to new challenges.
  • Evaluate capacity plus soft skills.
  • Check emotional expectations of new hires.
  • Disrupt traditional hiring practices.


173 reads

Managing the Hungry New Hire

Managing the Hungry New Hire

Treat all new to a role as curve novices, regardless of experience. Convey vision and needs clearly. Invest in frequent, honest communication about expectations and development.

Apply accelerants relevant to their stage. Consistently evaluate momentum and team fit to address issues promptly.


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Playing to Their Strengths

Playing to Their Strengths

Keep 70% of employees in the productive sweet spot through constraints reintroducing friction, providing challenges with real risk of failure, and valuing their contributions.

Avoid forgetting and stagnating masters.


146 reads

Don't Stop The Learning! Helping People Leap to New Learning Curves

Don't Stop The Learning! Helping People Leap to New Learning Curves

  • Proactively help top performers disrupt new curves.
  • Applaud achievements, identify new opportunities, and deliver support.
  • Overcome self-entitlement.
  • Think creatively about slingshotting people to stimulate innovation.
  • Disruption requires facilitation.


147 reads


When you make the decision to start something new, first figure out the jobs you want to do. Then position yourself to play where no one else is playing.



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Managing Masters

Managing Masters

Progress levels out at mastery. Boredom and stagnation lower productivity. Facilitate jumps to new curves.

Deploy masters as mentors and trainers for novices. Battle entitlement.

Failure is a tool for progress. Change the culture around it.


146 reads



"Time was God's first creation. " ~ Walter Lang


Build an A-Team, written by Whitney Johnson, is a powerful guide to understanding how to build and lead successful teams. Through her experience as a consultant, Johnson provides readers with the knowledge and tools they need to bring out the best in their team members. The book outlines the S-Curve, a tool to help leaders assess and monitor the performance of their team. Johnson identifies three key stages of the S-Curve; the ramp-up phase, the plateau phase, and the take-off phase. She outlines how leaders can identify these stages and how to best manage and motivate their teams during each.


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