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The New Science of Building Great Teams - Harvard Business Review

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Fascinating MIT study showing the key to what makes great teams: "With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we’ve found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team’s success. Not only that, but they are as significant as all the other factors—individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions—combined."

That makes a lot of sense. What defines a great team is ability to work together.

How does that coordination happen? Communication.

I thought that this was an interesting article, because I wonder if the same principles apply to external relationship building as internal teams. Also, it specifically found that the content of what was being said was least important. This mirrrors what we already know about the power of non-verbal communication, but I thought it was a good reminder about the power of phone or in-person meetings. 

I think you are correct -- same principles apply. 

It's good to think of your network as your team, and you as the leader of that team. 

Also good to have an "evolutionary biological" reason why we cannot just "sit on the sidelines:"

If some people failed to contribute or to signal their level of interest or approval, then the group members had less information and weaker judgment, and so were more likely to go hungry.

#flowofideas #synergy 

Valerie, you pulled out a superb quote. 

Makes me think this is the reason communication was invented: SURVIVAL. 

The article is actually not the most retarded thing I've ever read, but it is the most retarded thing I've ever read in HBR.  Let's single out and reveal the full quote mentioned above, with bold emphasis mine:

"Consider how early man may have approached problem solving. One can imagine humans sitting around a campfire (as a team) making suggestions, relating observations, and indicating interest or approval with head nods, gestures, or vocal signals. If some people failed to contribute or to signal their level of interest or approval, then the group members had less information and weaker judgment, and so were more likely to go hungry."

Really?  Holy Shit!  Evolutionary anthropology solved in two sentences!

How about admitting we have no idea how early man approached problem solving, instead of ladling wishful thinking about evolution into a corporate setting of group problem solving around a campfire, complete with abstract body language and flip charts illustrating some later practical application of heavy team effort and extended energy expenditure, or budget reviews.  HAH! Like there were McKinsey consultants in the wilds convening hominoid teams and justifying their excessive billables of choice cuts of wild game at all points of our evolution...not.  Such prosaic illustrations used to support conflating indicators of social metric studies are signs of what sells well into corporate dysfunction at scale and how bland HBR has become, not an accurate representation of how small teams work well, or should work.

The data they have that shows corporate teams improve because of COMMUNICATION sits aside other data that shows doing almost anything different for corporate teams and individuals awash in mind-numbing drone work or creatives caught in the suspension of massive bureaucracies will actually improve their performance, at first and for a limited time.  One need merely glance at all previous back issues of HBR for a daisy chain of amazing discoveries on how to improve corporate productivity that are now defunct, discarded and never discussed.  Yawn.

As far as the value of pointing out that COMMUNICATION is important--well no DUH, Harvard Blah Review--but why stop there before getting to something actually new, useful and with a real scent of science to it?  They should've also pointed out how BREATHING is important.  And perhaps being able to go to the bathroom... which if you think I'm being smarmy and tongue in cheek on these comments you should check out corporate Yoga and how many companies still don't provide adequate restroom facilities or break times for their workers.  A far more practical, valuable and actionable set of insights tied to basic human needs than this pulp.

For some reason this article got me feeling irritated and feisty.  Apologies to all if I came off the top rope and landed too hard on this one...

If I read you and your words correctly, you expected more. This came as common sense to you. I'll go out on that limb and state I appreciated the article. At the same time, I don't think you "landed too hard"on this one.  It's good to have another view, even if different.  Appropriately supported dissent (read: not trolls) serves all of us. Thank you.

Yes Valerie, thank you for more cogently articulating my sentiments.  I did expect much more, especially from a magazine with a legacy of publishing insightful business thinkers, like Michael Porter and Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

I think it's progress that this concept is common sense. 

Without communication, we die. 

With communication, we have a chance. 

I see what you mean about expecting more from am HBR article, since it neither provides a crisp framework nor a clear taxonomy that can be applied. 

...nor any relevant introduction or foundation to even consider it a "science" let alone "new".  Agreed.

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