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If you’re like most people, then you’ve probably encountered the two extremes of teamwork. You’ve seen organized collectives that simply ‘click’ with one another; men and women who work so well in tandem they seem to be of a single mind. You’ve also seen bands of misfits who look like they could devolve into chaos at any given moment; slapdash groups that seem incapable of getting anything done.
It isn’t random chance that differentiates one from the other. As noted by Alex “Sandy” Pentland of Harvard Business Review, there’s a science behind teamwork. It’s something that team leaders and team members alike would do well to understand.
“We think of building teams that operate well as an art, or even magic,” writes Pentland. “It’s not something you can plan; it’s lightning-in-a-bottle stuff that you just embrace when you’re lucky enough to come across it.”
This is, explains Pentland, an erroneous way of looking at things. Back in 2012, he set up an experiment with MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory in an effort to figure out the hard science behind teamwork. The experiment was a success, and its results supported what many have been saying about teamwork for years.
“At MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, we have identified the elusive group dynamics that characterize high-performing teams,” explains Pentland. “These dynamics are observable, quantifiable, and measurable. And, perhaps most important, teams can be taught how to strengthen them.” […]