Wellbeing Works


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Why do we Measure and Report on Teams?

Matthew Syed, author of Rebel Ideas recently wrote: “View performance from a different standpoint!” at Wellbeing Works we couldn’t agree more.

To date the focus has been on the individual, popular books have been written based on improving the mindset of individuals but we are all vulnerable to quirks and by focusing on the parts we overlook the holistic perspective.

Matthew states in his recent book, “If you look at a colony of Ants – Ants display a wide range of collective behaviors, collecting leaves, marching, etc and we could spend a lifetime examining the individual Ants but learn nothing at all about the colony”.

The interesting thing about Ants, Matthew goes on to discuss, is not the part but the whole, instead of zooming in on individuals, zoom out on the colony as a coherent organism, capable of solving complex problems such as building sophisticated houses and finding sources of food. An Ant colony is an emergent system, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

All challenging work today is undertaken by groups for a simple reason, problems are too complex for one person to tackle alone. The number of papers written by individuals has declined, almost all papers in science and engineering are 90% written by teams and medical research collaborations out number individual research by 3 to 1.

Teams are dominant and roles are changing, for example Matthew points out that most equity funds were ran by individuals but are now predominantly ran by teams. The gap between teams and individuals is increasing with time and therefore a holistic approach is imperative.

Matthew asks us not to think about human performance from the standpoint of the individual but to think about it from the standpoint of a group, from this more rounded perspective he says that we are able to see that diversity in teams is the critical ingredient driving collective intelligence.

People from different demographic backgrounds think about problems in different ways, with complex problems, groups that contain diverse views have a huge and often decisive advantage.

As technology moves on, Matthew states that his theory applies as much to computers as it does to humans, artificial intelligence is no longer about single algorithms but ensembles of algorithms that think differently, search differently and encode problems in diverse ways.

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