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Bo Adams

What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team - The New York Times - 1 views

  • many of today’s most valuable firms have come to realize that analyzing and improving individual workers ­— a practice known as ‘‘employee performance optimization’’ — isn’t enough. As commerce becomes increasingly global and complex, the bulk of modern work is more and more team-based.
  • teams are now the fundamental unit of organization.
  • influence not only how people work but also how they work together.
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  • Google’s People Operations department
  • there was nothing showing that a mix of specific personality types or skills or backgrounds made any difference. The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.’’
  • At Google, we’re good at finding patterns,’’
  • As they struggled to figure out what made a team successful, Rozovsky and her colleagues kept coming across research by psychologists and sociologists that focused on what are known as ‘‘group norms.’’
  • Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather
  • Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.
  • looked for instances when team members described a particular behavior as an ‘‘unwritten rule’’ or when they explained certain things as part of the ‘‘team’s culture.’’
  • After looking at over a hundred groups for more than a year, Project Aristotle researchers concluded that understanding and influencing group norms were the keys to improving Google’s teams.
  • The researchers eventually concluded that what distinguished the ‘‘good’’ teams from the dysfunctional groups was how teammates treated one another. The right norms, in other words, could raise a group’s collective intelligence, whereas the wrong norms could hobble a team, even if, individually, all the members were exceptionally bright.
  • As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’
  • Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues.
  • psychological safety — a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’
  • Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up,’’
  • ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’
  • Rozovsky’s study group at Yale was draining because the norms — the fights over leadership, the tendency to critique — put her on guard. Whereas the norms of her case-competition team — enthusiasm for one another’s ideas, joking around and having fun — allowed everyone to feel relaxed and energized.
  • other behaviors that seemed important as well — like making sure teams had clear goals and creating a culture of dependability.
  • it made sense that psychological safety and emotional conversations were related.
  • The behaviors that create psychological safety — conversational turn-taking and empathy — are part of the same unwritten rules we often turn to, as individuals, when we need to establish a bond.
  • If I can’t be open and honest at work, then I’m not really living, am I?’’
  • to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency.
  • By adopting the data-driven approach of Silicon Valley, Project Aristotle has encouraged emotional conversations and discussions of norms among people who might otherwise be uncomfortable talking about how they feel.
  • In the best teams, members listen to one another and show sensitivity to feelings and needs.
  • ‘Just having data that proves to people that these things are worth paying attention to sometimes is the most important step in getting them to actually pay attention,’’ Rozovsky told me. ‘‘Don’t underestimate the power of giving people a common platform and operating language.’’
Meghan Cureton

3 Ways to Unlock the Wisdom of Colleagues | Edutopia - 0 views

  • when teachers have regular, structured opportunities to learn together, good ideas are more likely to travel from one classroom to the next.
  • Collaboration takes time and planning. If classroom observation becomes part of a school’s strategy, administrators have to make time during the regular school day for shared professional learning among the staff. School leaders should also have to have clear objectives for the program of observation, and protocols to keep discussion on track and to ensure that the time isn’t wasted.
  • A spirit of continuous learning permeates the school, which encourages all teachers
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  • “Sometimes the best things going on are happening in your own building, and you might miss them because you’re doing your own thing,”
  • teachers meet regularly outside of class time to examine their students’ coursework as a team.
  • “The reason we look at student work is to help teachers become better teachers,”
  • “are better able to guide and facilitate a deeper level of student learning.”
  • community of learners who use planned, peer-to-peer feedback to help raise student outcomes throughout the school.
  • Each three-hour teacher lab focuses on a specific instructional topic that teachers choose to explore together, such as student engagement strategies.
  • To encourage more teacher collaboration in your school, you’ll want to consider: Time: Where will you find time within the regular school day for teachers to step outside their own classrooms and learn together? Structure: How might a protocol or specific observation prompt help to focus the learning experience? Who will play a lead role in facilitating the teacher experience and encouraging reflection? How will you capture takeaways? The National School Reform Faculty publishes a number of protocols for professional learning, such as this one for looking at student work. Follow-up: How are teachers applying what they learn together? How do students benefit as a result of teacher collaboration?
Bo Adams

How to Avoid the Free Rider Problem in Teams | Getting Smart - 0 views

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    HT Jennifer Klein and Nicole Martin
Bo Adams

The Art of Getting Opponents to "We" - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Significantly, participants all came to align behind a single vision statement — and now they are actively communicating and advancing that vision nationwide through their organizations and networks. They host meetings with educational networks, superintendents, principals, teachers and philanthropists, reach out to libraries, museums and after-school programs, and identify and connect pioneers in learner-centered education.
  • Convergence staff and facilitators work to create a “safe space,” maintaining a strict neutrality and ensuring that everyone feels heard, says Fersh. It’s important that participants “feel they’re not in a place that’s already cooked or leaning toward any solutions.”
  • Convergence staff members look continually for opportunities to forge connections among participants. They begin meetings with “connecting” questions — for example: “When did you know that education was of great importance to you?” — that are designed to reveal people’s values and experiences, rather than highlight their disagreements. The objective is not to sweep differences under the rug, but to build rapport that a group needs to grapple effectively with its differences.
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  • Another key is to identify a frame that energizes everybody, but is not so broad that it is meaningless. “For us the gold standard is that the dialogue has to lead to action,” said Fersh. To do that, he said, there are intermediate goals: “Can you get people to the table and sustain their presence? Can you find agreements that are worth fighting for? And can you keep people together to keep working over time to make sure something happens?”
  • In the end, she said, people converged on the notion that they had to do far more than tinker around the edges of a broken system held over from a bygone industrial age. “There was a lot of conversation that the current system is ill designed to create 21st century outcomes for students,” said Young. “But there wasn’t alignment around what a new system could look like. People really wanted to be part of that conversation.”
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