Notes this lengthy NY Times piece “In 2012, the company (Google) embarked on an initiative – code named Project Aristotle – to study hundreds of Google’s teams and figure out why some stumbled while others soared.“
What interested the researchers most, however, was that teams that did well on one assignment usually did well on all the others. Conversely, teams that failed at one thing seemed to fail at everything. The researchers eventually concluded that what distinguished the ”good” teams from the dysfunctional groups was how teammates treated one another. The right norms, in other words, could raise a group’s collective intelligence, whereas the wrong norms could hobble a team, even if, individually, all the members were exceptionally bright.
So what are the right ways to act (norms?)?
Google discovered two specific attributes of teams that highly correlated to success or failure:
- Conversational turn-taking: ”As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well, but if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.”
- Average social sensitivity: “a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues.”
Together, these two factors provide what is called psychological safety – team members feel safe taking risks in expressing ideas and feelings.
How you create these factors is the bulk of the rest of the article.
If you only read one lengthy article this week – this is the one!!
You’ll pick up many fabulous jewels that will make teams more productive and effective.