It takes more than smart people to make smart teams.
It has been a good week to discover "best practices" for smart and successful teams, at least in the press. This weekend I read no fewer than six separate, yet related, pieces on this topic. Unsurprising, as each article and blog entry catalyzes others in our omni-connected world.
Here's the theme:
“Groups of smart people can make horrible decisions — or great ones. Psychologists have known for a century that individuals vary in their cognitive ability. But are some groups, like some people, reliably smarter than others?”
In a nutshell the answer is "yes." Groups with specific characteristics consistently behave "smarter" than others - “collective” or “group” intelligence and team productivity are distinguished by 3 shared attributes:
Productive teams have members who effectively read the complex emotions of others. Testing of this ability includes “Reading the Mind in the Eyes,” whereby one reads subject's emotions by simply looking at photographs of their eyes. You can take this test yourself, right here. Smart teams go beyond the ability to read facial expressions and achieve a more general skill, known as “Theory of Mind,” to keep track of what other people feel, know and believe.
Finally, “teams with more women outperformed teams with more men.”According to the MIT study, the effectiveness of having more women on a team may derive from “the fact that women, on average, were better at “mind-reading” than men.”
The "Avengers" would perform better with more women on their team
For productivity, fill your team with humble, empathetic professional women.
Further, the studies illustrate that "social sensitivity" is a skill not a personality trait. And, significant in our world of growing physical disconnection, the research indicates that these empathy skills are valuable to group success both on- and offline.
The source of these stories stems from clinical research published in the journals “Science” and PLOS One based upon research conducted at The Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT.
One well-written article on this subject is from the researchers themselves (Anita Wooley, Thomas W. Malone and Christopher Chabris) as it appears in The New York Times “Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others.”
The signature feature is the Rolls Royce Wraith’s Starlight Headliner, consisting of 1,340 LEDs hand-sewn to create an effect of owning one’s personal night sky filled with stars...
Warning, content below represents a man's libidinous fascination with an automobile. It is not Lolita; after all Bradley Berman, the author, is not Nabokov and the Wraith is not underaged. Nonetheless, I find myself simultaneously repulsed... and seduced. - David J. Katz
Once upon a time… business success was based on providing a narrow segment of consumers with a narrow segment of products, uniquely suited to their needs, sourced and advertised locally, and sold at a local store.
Over time, the spread of mass media - TV, national newspapers and magazines - along with the expansion of national retail stores, and the growth of a global and highly efficient supply chain, led to a world of mass marketing, mass production, and massive retailers. The retail world moved from personalized products for localized, niche markets to mass-produced products for mass markets. Mass marketers thrive on "must-have" items - huge volumes of single styles, sold across many market segments to an audience of consumers eager to have the item they saw advertised in mass media, and which, in turn are produced in great scale and efficiency.
This strategy worked. Until it didn’t.