The Secret of High-Performing Teams: Google’s Project Aristotle

High-performing team celebrating

In 2012, Google researched its 180 R&D teams, looking for what habits and practices the most successful groups had in common. The project was called Aristotle due to his famous quote: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

The data suggested that individual factors such as IQ and educational degrees, aside from others such as team size and location, couldn’t determine high performance on their own. On the other hand, behaviors shared by a group – the ones that indicated how well members collaborate together – were decisive:

1) Psychological Safety

Being in a safe space means being comfortable to bring points of view and ask questions without fear of judgment. Basically, the mantra around “no question is a dumb question”.

2) Dependability

The ability to rely on coworkers to get work done at a high standard and on time.

High-performing teams feel in a “safe” space, where members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives.

3) Structure and Clarity

Understanding each person’s strengths and weaknesses are the key to a balanced, well-structured group. Does your team have clear roles in place?

4) Meaning

Leveraging each member’s specialties creates a sense of purpose and ownership, especially if they understand what they excel at.

5) Impact

Aligning people’s ambitions with the goals of the project or company tends to drive engagement up and the perception of impact for the work that is being done.

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