Google recently devoted considerable resources to determine the characteristics of a high performing team. What did they discover?
As reported in the New York Times, no, it’s not the team’s e-mail patterns, social relationships or leadership styles. Nor is it the team’s make-up:
No matter how Project Aristotle researchers “arranged the data…it was almost impossible to find…any evidence that the composition of a team made any difference. According to Abeer Dubey, a manager in Google’s People Analytics division: ‘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.'”
What was the determining factor?
“Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.” On high performing teams, members
- Speak in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.”
- Have high “average social sensitivity” — aspects of what is known as psychological safety: a “shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”
Google’s findings affirm
It sure is a good day in the office when three years of Google research confirms the efficacy of what we have known and practiced for nearly two decades.
Whereas in large teams, the sum IQ of a group is often lower than that of any single member, Prism strives to maximize a group’s collective IQ and make it additive — even to achieve group genius. Our first priority with any group is to create a psychologically safe, risk-free environment where participants listen deeply, respectfully and empathically to one another.
Our deliberate processes and meeting structures ensure that
- Each member — even those most reflective and shy — has equal voice and stature.
- All ideas are first evaluated for their promise and potential before they are criticized or rejected.
Indeed, we strive to achieve a “shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking…a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up…a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.”
We couldn’t have said that any better ourselves.