On Teams:  A Blog About Team Effectiveness

Science of Teamwork Video – Talk at NASA

Written by Scott Tannenbaum on .

Teamwork isn't easy. Fortunately, there is an increasing body of solid empirical research that examines team effectiveness, what we refer tScott-NASA smallo as the "Science of Teamwork."

As part of NASA's Innovation Lecture series, I had the chance to give a talk on the Science of Teamwork at the Johnson Space Center. I shared what the research reveals about the drivers of team effectiveness, and described some of the psychological principles that underlie teamwork. I also summarized findings from three years of team research we've been conducting at NASA and engaged in a Q&A with the audience.

Want to see the video?

How is an effective team like an octopus?

Written by Scott Tannenbaum on .

Research has shown that an octopus' brain will signal to one of its arms to grab a clam or to several of its arms to swim away from danger, but each arm handles some of the details on its own. Octopus2

Several studies, including one published in Science, indicate that some information processing takes place in the arms, independent of the brain. This was uncovered in research that examined severed octopus legs in action (now there's a sentence I never thought I would write).

An octopus isn't a team but there is an interesting analogy to be made about teams and even organizations.

Avoiding a senior leadership team “hot spot”

Written by Scott Tannenbaum on .

I've worked with many Senior Leadership teams over the years. They face some unique challenges and tend to exhibit a few common teamwork "hot spots" that, if not addressed, can flame up and burn the team. Match on fire

This blog post is triggered by a question I received during a recent webinar on Building a Culture of Collaboration. During the webinar, and in a prior blog post, I described the Seven C's of Teamwork – the key drivers of team effectiveness. These Seven C's manifest themselves a bit differently in Senior Leadership Teams (SLTs) than in other teams due to the nature of SLTs.

Let's take a look at one common hot spot. If you work with or are a member of a leadership team, you've almost certainly seen this one before. But by taking the right steps, it can be avoided.

The Seven C's -- Cracking the code of teamwork

Written by Scott Tannenbaum on .

Here's some recent data about teamwork and collaboration:

  • 67% of 23,000 employees surveyed report collaboration requirements are increasing (CEB, 2012)
  • 89% of HR leaders believe teams will become even more important (Davey, 2013)
  • Yet less than 25% of employees see their own teams as highly effective (HCI, 2014)  iStock 000010201128Small 2

Working collaboratively can boost performance, but many, if not most teams, aren't performing as well as they should. Teamwork sounds easy, but in practice it's not so simple. Yet, easy or not, you'll probably be working on more teams in the future.

All this suggests that we need to crack the code. Let's see what team science has to offer. 

10 tips for constructive conflict

Written by Scott Tannenbaum on .

Thumbs up and down

Conflict is neither inherently good nor bad. Poorly handled conflict can kill morale and degrade team performance. Well-handled conflict can lead to innovation and boost performance. 

What can team leaders do to manage conflict effectively?  Learn what the research says about team conflict and find a few tips for promoting constructive conflict in your teams.