Have you heard of the Aristotle Project? This is an ambitious Google search conducted with the intention of better understanding the teamwork of its collaborators, specifically answering why certain teams thrive while others fail. After analyzing hundreds of company teams and years of data, the researchers came to surprising conclusions. The results have been released recently and you can use them for your own team. This article is based on the interview that the members of the project granted to the New York Times. Enjoy it!
Project … what?
In Vale do Silício, software engineers are encouraged to work together. This is because groups tend to innovate more, see errors faster, and find better solutions to problems. Within companies, the performance of teamwork is more valuable than the performance of individual work. So if a company wants to outperform its competitors, it needs to influence not only how people work, but especially how they work together.
The story of the Aristotle Project begins five years ago, when Google – one of the greatest enthusiasts of the theory that work can be more productive – has dedicated itself to building a perfect team. The top executives of the company always believed that for this, it was enough to combine the best people – the brightest minds on the same team.
In 2012, however, the company embarked deeper into the initiative that would deconstruct this theory – which was named Project Aristotle, in honor of the first philosopher who systematically studied, recorded, and critiqued earlier philosophical works. To take it forward, Abeer Dubey, project leader, brought together some of the best statisticians, organizational psychologists, sociologists, company engineers and academic researchers to compose their team.
The technology giant has spent millions measuring almost every aspect of the lives of its collaborators. The People and Operations department analyzed everything, even details such as how often people had lunch together. They concluded, without much surprise, that avoiding micromanagement and having clear communication were key aspects for a leader to improve team performance. But that was not news to many managers of the company.