robertogreco + teamwork + teams   11

What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team - The New York Times
"Project Aristotle’s researchers began by reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked. Were the best teams made up of people with similar interests? Or did it matter more whether everyone was motivated by the same kinds of rewards? Based on those studies, the researchers scrutinized the composition of groups inside Google: How often did teammates socialize outside the office? Did they have the same hobbies? Were their educational backgrounds similar? Was it better for all teammates to be outgoing or for all of them to be shy? They drew diagrams showing which teams had overlapping memberships and which groups had exceeded their departments’ goals. They studied how long teams stuck together and if gender balance seemed to have an impact on a team’s success.

No matter how researchers arranged the data, though, it was almost impossible to find patterns — or any evidence that the composition of a team made any difference. ‘‘We looked at 180 teams from all over the company,’’ Dubey said. ‘‘We had lots of data, but there was nothing showing that a mix of specific personality types or skills or backgrounds made any difference. The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.’’

Some groups that were ranked among Google’s most effective teams, for instance, were composed of friends who socialized outside work. Others were made up of people who were basically strangers away from the conference room. Some groups sought strong managers. Others preferred a less hierarchical structure. Most confounding of all, two teams might have nearly identical makeups, with overlapping memberships, but radically different levels of effectiveness. ‘‘At Google, we’re good at finding patterns,’’ Dubey said. ‘‘There weren’t strong patterns here.’’

As they struggled to figure out what made a team successful, Rozovsky and her colleagues kept coming across research by psychologists and sociologists that focused on what are known as ‘‘group norms.’’ Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather: One team may come to a consensus that avoiding disagreement is more valuable than debate; another team might develop a culture that encourages vigorous arguments and spurns groupthink. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals — they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently — but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.

Project Aristotle’s researchers began searching through the data they had collected, looking for norms. They looked for instances when team members described a particular behavior as an ‘‘unwritten rule’’ or when they explained certain things as part of the ‘‘team’s culture.’’ Some groups said that teammates interrupted one another constantly and that team leaders reinforced that behavior by interrupting others themselves. On other teams, leaders enforced conversational order, and when someone cut off a teammate, group members would politely ask everyone to wait his or her turn. Some teams celebrated birthdays and began each meeting with informal chitchat about weekend plans. Other groups got right to business and discouraged gossip. There were teams that contained outsize personalities who hewed to their group’s sedate norms, and others in which introverts came out of their shells as soon as meetings began.

After looking at over a hundred groups for more than a year, Project Aristotle researchers concluded that understanding and influencing group norms were the keys to improving Google’s teams. But Rozovsky, now a lead researcher, needed to figure out which norms mattered most. Google’s research had identified dozens of behaviors that seemed important, except that sometimes the norms of one effective team contrasted sharply with those of another equally successful group. Was it better to let everyone speak as much as they wanted, or should strong leaders end meandering debates? Was it more effective for people to openly disagree with one another, or should conflicts be played down? The data didn’t offer clear verdicts. In fact, the data sometimes pointed in opposite directions. The only thing worse than not finding a pattern is finding too many of them. Which norms, Rozovsky and her colleagues wondered, were the ones that successful teams shared?"



"As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘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. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues."



"When Rozovsky and her Google colleagues encountered the concept of psychological safety in academic papers, it was as if everything suddenly fell into place. One engineer, for instance, had told researchers that his team leader was ‘‘direct and straightforward, which creates a safe space for you to take risks.’’ That team, researchers estimated, was among Google’s accomplished groups. By contrast, another engineer had told the researchers that his ‘‘team leader has poor emotional control.’’ He added: ‘‘He panics over small issues and keeps trying to grab control. I would hate to be driving with him being in the passenger seat, because he would keep trying to grab the steering wheel and crash the car.’’ That team, researchers presumed, did not perform well.

Most of all, employees had talked about how various teams felt. ‘‘And that made a lot of sense to me, maybe because of my experiences at Yale,’’ Rozovsky said. ‘‘I’d been on some teams that left me feeling totally exhausted and others where I got so much energy from the group.’’ Rozovsky’s study group at Yale was draining because the norms — the fights over leadership, the tendency to critique — put her on guard. Whereas the norms of her case-competition team — enthusiasm for one another’s ideas, joking around and having fun — allowed everyone to feel relaxed and energized.

For Project Aristotle, research on psychological safety pointed to particular norms that are vital to success. There were other behaviors that seemed important as well — like making sure teams had clear goals and creating a culture of dependability. But Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.

‘‘We had to get people to establish psychologically safe environments,’’ Rozovsky told me. But it wasn’t clear how to do that. ‘‘People here are really busy,’’ she said. ‘‘We needed clear guidelines.’’

However, establishing psychological safety is, by its very nature, somewhat messy and difficult to implement. You can tell people to take turns during a conversation and to listen to one another more. You can instruct employees to be sensitive to how their colleagues feel and to notice when someone seems upset. But the kinds of people who work at Google are often the ones who became software engineers because they wanted to avoid talking about feelings in the first place.

Rozovsky and her colleagues had figured out which norms were most critical. Now they had to find a way to make communication and empathy — the building blocks of forging real connections — into an algorithm they could easily scale."



"Project Aristotle is a reminder that when companies try to optimize everything, it’s sometimes easy to forget that success is often built on experiences — like emotional interactions and complicated conversations and discussions of who we want to be and how our teammates make us feel — that can’t really be optimized. Rozovsky herself was reminded of this midway through her work with the Project Aristotle team. ‘‘We were in a meeting where I made a mistake,’’ Rozovsky told me. She sent out a note afterward explaining how she was going to remedy the problem. ‘‘I got an email back from a team member that said, ‘Ouch,’ ’’ she recalled. ‘‘It was like a punch to the gut. I was already upset about making this mistake, and this note totally played on my insecurities.’’"
charlesduhigg  google  teams  teamwork  groups  groupdynamics  juliarozovsky  psychology  norms  groupnorms  communication  2016  siliconvalley  collaboration  projectaristotle  behavior  safety  emocions  socialemotional  empathy  psychologicalsafety  leadership  socialemotionallearning 
february 2016 by robertogreco
russell davies: a unit of delivery
"When I start telling advertising/marketing people about this stuff the same themes seem to come up. So let's address those:

This is not about a bunch of private sector digital experts parachuting in to save the day. (Although we might sometimes behave like that, which is bad.) I'm not sure of the metaphor but we're somewhere between a catalyst, the tip of the iceberg and in the right place at the right time. We've certainly been very lucky. We are civil servants, most of us long-time civil servants. We are building on years of work from fellow civil servants who haven't had the benefit of our mandate. And we're working with huge numbers of colleagues across government who are as talented, driven and imaginative as we are, they've just been stuck in systems that don't let that flourish. Part of our job is to help shift those systems.

This is not about comms. We're not the new COI. We don't spend money on marketing, even digital marketing. Personally I think GOV.UK will soon be a great example of a new way of thinking about that stuff ('the product is the service is the marketing') but that's a post for another day. When we do use traditional 'agency-type' comms and design skills (which we do ourselves) it's to help the service/product communicate about itself. (That probably doesn't make sense yet, I've still not found a way to explain that properly.)

There is no 'client'. This really messes with agency people's heads. Obviously we're accountable if we screw up, the website falls over, the facts are wrong or the site's unusable. But it's not an agency-type relationship where someone distant and important has to 'approve' everything. This is mostly because our chief responsibility is to our users - they approve our decisions by using or not using the services we offer them. Or by complaining about them, which they sometimes do. Also, because you just can't do Agile with a traditional client-approval methodology. That's going to be a thing agencies are going to have to deal with."



"But, what does this mean for BRANDS!!?

Nothing. Obviously.

Well, maybe a bit. Iain was kind enough, the other day, to point back at a post I wrote about working at W+K [http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2006/07/7_things_i_lear_1.html ]. I think there's a similar post brewing after a year and a bit of GDS. I have learnt an incredible amount here and I think there are some obvious lessons for agencies and their clients in what we've been up to.

As a tantalising teaser I'd say they are:

1. The Unit of Delivery is The Team

2. The Product Is The Service Is The Marketing

3. Digital is Not Comms, And It's Not IT, It's Your Business

And a bunch of others to be named later.

Anyway. I'll try and come up with something useful."

[See also: https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/2bfa73373a9a ]

[Update 5 Feb 2014: see Dan Hon's remarks on the same: http://tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/episode-nine-everything-in-silos-forever-and-ever-amen ]
gov.uk  wieden+kennedy  russelldavies  2013  marketing  branding  government  agile  digital  business  services  teams  teamwork 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Updated: My speech at The Economist (on innovation)
"First, most teams don’t work. They don’t trust each other. They are not led in a way that creates a culture where people feel trust. Think of most of your peers  – how many do you trust? How many would you trust with a special, dangerous, or brilliant idea?  I’d say, based on my experiences at many organizations, only one of every three teams, in all of the universe, has a culture of trust. Without trust, there is no collaboration. Without trust, ideas do not go anywhere even if someone finds the courage to mention them at all."



"Without teams of trust and good leaders who take risks innovation rarely happens. You can have all the budget in the world, and resources, and gadgets, and theories and S-curves and it won’t matter at all. Occam’s razor suggests the main barrier to innovation are simple cultural things we overlook because we like to believe we’re so advanced. But mostly, we’re not."



"Next, we need to get past our obsession with epiphany. You won’t find any flash of insight in history that wasn’t followed, or proceeded, by years of hard work. Ideas are easy. They are cheap. Any creativity book or course will help you find more ideas. What’s rare is the willingness to bet you reputation, career, or finances on your ideas. To commit fully to pursuing them. Ideas are abstractions. Executing and manifesting an idea in the world is something else entirely as there are constraints, political, financial, and technical that the ideas we keep locked up in our minds never have to wrestle with. And this distinction is something no theory or book or degree can ever grant you. Conviction, like trust and willingness to take risks, is exceptionally rare. Part of the reason so much of innovation is driven by entrepreneurs and independents is that they are fully committed to their own ideas in ways most working people, including executives, are not.

Lastly, I need to talk about words. I’m a writer and a speaker, so words are my trade. But words are important, and possibly dangerous, for everyone. A fancy word I want to share is the word reification. Reification is the confusion between the word for something and the thing itself. The word innovation is not itself an innovation. Words are cheap. You can put the word innovation on the back of a box, or in an advertisement, or even in the name of your company, but that does not make it so. Words like radical, game-changing, breakthrough, and disruptive are similarly used to suggest something in lieu of actually being it. You can say innovative as many times as you want, but it won’t make you an innovator, nor make inventions, patents or profits magically appear in your hands."
words  innovation  trust  teams  teamwork  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  ideas  howwework  howwelearn  risktaking  culture  conviction  gamechanging  disruption  invention  epiphanies  2010 
may 2013 by robertogreco
ZURB – How Design Teamwork Crushes Bureaucracy
"People who can’t communicate w/ each other get stuck making complicated ‘stuff’ to make up for it. Frustration turns into PowerPoints, complicated charts, & lots of meetings…requires layers upon layers of management to keep organized…weighs companies down…creates no direct value to customers. This is why there are so many lame products in the world. There’s not a wireframe or chart or design method that is going to save you if you can’t look your team members in the eye."

"Our teamwork made up for the lack of ‘stuff’ other companies would use because we:

Shared a clear goal that we all understood…Worked physically close to each other & stayed connected by IM and phone when we didn’t…Shared feedback w/ each other & from customers out in the open every day, which builds confidence in arguing & makes new conversations really easy to beginStayed together through thick and thin to build trust in one another"
teamwork  teams  administration  management  tcsnmy  toshare  bureaucracy  organizations  goals  purpose  community  communication  collegiality  feedback  constructivecriticism  argument  arguing  discussion  proximity  powerpoint  irrationalcomplexity  rules  control  missingthepoint  trust  2011  zurb  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Drive - by Daniel Pink | Derek Sivers
"Your best approach is to have already established the conditions of a genuinely motivating environment. The baseline rewards must be sufficient. That is, the team’s basic compensation must be adequate and fair - particularly compared with people doing similar work for similar organizations. Your nonprofit must be a congenial place to work. And the people on your team must have autonomy, they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery, and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose. If these elements are in place, the best strategy is to provide a sense of urgency and significance - and then get out of the talent’s way.

Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete. Holding out a prize at the beginning of a project - and offering it as a contingency - will inevitably focus people’s attention on obtaining the reward rather than on attacking the problem."

[via: http://gaiwan.tumblr.com/post/7206114293 ]
books  drive  danielpink  motivation  extrinsicmotivation  teams  teamwork  autonomy  nonprofit  urgency  significance  talent  work  management  administration  congeniality  howwework  nonprofits  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Six Common Misperceptions about Teamwork - J. Richard Hackman - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review [Wish someone I knew could get #1, #2, #3, and #5 straightened out]
"Teamwork and collaboration are critical to mission achievement in any organization that has to respond quickly to changing circumstances. My research in the U.S. intelligence community has not only affirmed that idea but also surfaced a number of mistaken beliefs about teamwork that can sidetrack productive collaboration…

Misperception #1: Harmony helps. Smooth interaction among collaborators avoids time-wasting debates about how best to proceed… [A description of what actually is the case follows each]

Misperception #2: It's good to mix it up. New members bring energy and fresh ideas to a team…

Misperception #3: Bigger is better…

Misperception #4: Face-to-face interaction is passé…

Misperception #5: It all depends on the leader…

Misperception #6: Teamwork is magical."
collaboration  business  management  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  via:steelemaley  culture  teams  work  small  groups  harmony  disagreement  teamwork  consistency  time  meetings  productivity  problemsolving  classideas  lcproject  myths  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
I fucking hate organization charts : peterme.com
"organization charts…are emblematic of how broken standard business practice is. Command-&-control hierarchies are appropriate for Industrial Age mindset that favors control in order to achieve consistency, efficiency, & quantifiability…Departmental silos are no longer practical…

…related to org charts, are job titles…associated w/ set of qualifications & responsibilities, w/ idea that anyone who has that job title can do same activities…interchangeable…any fan knows that [basketball players] w/ same title are far from identical & secret to success is chemistry that emerges from combination of right set of individuals…

If we’re going to get away from bureaucratic thinking that defined Industrial Age, we need to set aside outmoded tools that were created for wholly different needs than what we have now…need to stop assuming that way we were taught is way it always was (& always should be) done, & we need to come up w/ new models & approaches to address our current reality."
petermerholz  bureaucracy  hierarchy  interchangability  quanitifcation  organizations  management  administration  leadership  jobtitles  jobs  work  teams  collaboration  creativity  departmentalsilos  messiness  control  commandandcontrol  unschooling  deschooling  2011  industrialage  business  teamwork  howwework  lcproject  tcsnmy  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Palomar5 Parallel process collaboration
"We had a phrase at Palomar 5 marked by a grave – “concensus killed my idea”, parallel process collaboration arose from this thinking on how to proceed without concensus. The answer is just to proceed, with people addressing the issues in the manner they think is most
consensus  palomar5  collaboration  tcsnmy  teams  teamwork  autonomy  sharedvalues  parallelprocess  learning  goals  classideas  direction  administration  management 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team | Video on TED.com
"Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the "marshmallow problem" -- a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?"

[via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/554987122]
building  business  challenge  collaboration  creativity  design  prototyping  ted  teamwork  teams  leadership  management  motivation  inspiration  innovation  process  tcsnmy  learning  problemsolving  iteration  failure  administration  tomwujec  psychology  extrinsicmotivation  intrinsicmotivation  success  incentives 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Why Group Norms Kill Creativity | PsyBlog
"So of course schools kill creativity, of course politicians are fighting over the middle ground, of course most TV programmes are the same and of course all our high streets are identical. People are social animals who work in groups and, especially with the advance of globalisation, the number of groups that govern or control our world has shrunk. These groups naturally kill creativity, or at least redefine it as conformity.
groupthink  psychology  behavior  groups  teams  teamwork  productivity  sociology  creativity  innovation  collaboration  conformity  cv  individual  groupnorms 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Why group norms kill creativity - elearnspace [quote from: http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/06/why-group-norms-kill-creativity.php]
"Unfortunately groups only rarely foment great ideas because people in them are powerfully shaped by group norms: the unwritten rules which describe how individuals in a group ‘are’ and how they ‘ought’ to behave. Norms influence what people believe is right and wrong just as surely as real laws, but with none of the permanence or transparency of written regulations…the unwritten rules of the group, therefore, determined what its members considered creative. In effect groups had redefined creativity as conformity."
creativity  collaboration  pedagogy  psychology  management  innovation  conformity  groupthink  trends  genius  groups  diversity  teamwork  teams 
august 2009 by robertogreco

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