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What makes for a great team?
Other Talks in the Series: Team Effectiveness
Expertise and collective intelligence: when teams are (and are not) more than the sum of their parts
- Dr. Anita Williams Woolley
- Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Asymmetry of perceptions: the impact on emotions, cognitions, and conflict
- Prof. Karen A. Jehn
- Melbourne Business School, Australia
What Makes for a Great Team?
To start to frame and answer to that question, I'd like to start with a little thought experiment. I'd like you to think of a really great team that you've been in; one that was just a wonderful team! Now, we need to say something about what we mean when we say a wonderful team. Different people mean different things, when they say, "That was a great team." So here are three things that we look at in our research to try to identify what's really a great team and what's not. The first thing is the task output. Whatever it is that the group is creating a product, a service, a decision or whatever it is, is at least acceptable and maybe better than that to people who receive, review or use it. And every once in a while, it's magic! So as you're thinking about this team, did it do a good job in terms of serving those whoever it was to serve? The people who it served, did they find it a superb performance? Okay, that's one of three indicators we want to look at. The second indicator is, what happened to the team itself? Did people in the team become increasingly competent working together as a team? Or did the team just kind of burn itself out, as it created this good product? And third, what happened to the individuals? Did they grow and learn, as a result of having been in the team? Now if this is a really great team, the people it serves are going to be very happy with it. The team is going to have gotten better over time. And the individuals are gonna learn something and find the experience more fulfilling than frustrating. So you got a team that meets those criteria. Okay. Now, you know the second part of the thought experiment. I also want you to think of a team that was awful, that did really poorly on these three criteria. See if you can come up with a team that didn't serve its people well, got worse over time rather than better, And individuals walked away feeling frustrated or alienated. And you know what's coming next. What in your view was the main difference between that first team, the great team, and that second team, the one that was a disaster? What accounts for how come that first one was so good and that second one was so bad?