What makes out a great team?

This question has been going on for a while, specially since the digital transformation brought the awareness into the enterprises that individuals can not face the complexity of todays business anymore: different perspectives are required to seek solutions to complex challenges, and this is the reality in the XXI century. Nowadays it is a fact, that most of the work done in many organizations, is done collaboratively by teams.

So what makes up a good team? Google was also dealing with this question, so they launched the project Aristotle, and 2016 came out with the result of their investigation (published in New York Times ).

Project Aristotle’s research team identified 180 teams to study (115 project teams in engineering and 65 pods in sales) which included a mix of high- and low-performing teams. The study tested how both team composition (e.g., personality traits, sales skills, demographics on the team) and team dynamics (e.g., what it was like to work with teammates) impact team effectiveness. Ideas were pulled from existing research as well as Google’s own experience with what makes an effective team (ReWork google).

The results of this investigation are impressing. A great team neither heavily depends on the skills and knowledge of their members (that is, six Harvard graduates together do not necessary create a good team), nor play the size of a team a big role.

The researchers found that what really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together.

Our goal when creating effective, self-organized, mature, energized, great teams is to look for ways to increase the collaboration and communication within the team members, and so introducing room for creativity.


One tool that I really like are personal maps (more about personal maps): it is a fantastic exercise when it comes to understanding people within the team better. It's simple, no materials are required (a piece of paper), simple to explain and still powerful!

It can go well:

However, before introducing a personal map exercise into a team, we must ensure that there is a safe environment, since different cultures may have different reactions.

I have observed that the cultural background of the country in which you are working plays a decisive role when it comes to personal maps: not everyone likes to talk about private aspects, and in some cultures it is not usual to talk about you at work.

Only consider this experience when applying personal maps with your equipment!

It is important to know that empathy improves communication and trust (one of the problems I encounter more and more when I work with teams). With this we help create a much better work environment. Personal maps can be used on computers that start from home, are not known or there is not enough trust even between them. Many times you can hear situations like "here you come to work and not to socialize".

If the dynamics open up, at once writing your personal map, it is presented one at a time, like who introduces a new person for the first time.

Another technique I used is to do it in pairs, but not in the whole room, if not in a couple, and the rest is in sight. As if it were a job interview based on the personal map made. Finally, the interviewer introduces the interviewee to the rest and the interviewee provides a brief feedback in case he considers that the details of his personal map have been forgotten.

This technique helps to create a secure context, to get to know each other better and to empathize with colleagues, it is very useful in new teams that are not known, in situations of relocated teams where it is clearly seen that there is no communication or link, as I commented in another dynamic ( delegation poker), it is very important to create a safe working context. This dynamic, if it arises from that approach, can be very useful.

One way of presenting it is in teams or areas where one is going to act as coach, facilitator, etc., and the team is already established.

I ask the question, "guys, I don't know them and if they are so kind I would like us to make a personal map to find them." Later I generate synergies of the type, X, did you know the love / taste of Y? Did you know that you and Z have a predilection for XXX?

It can go wrong:

In contexts where the area or group with which the dynamics will be carried out, there is a great hierarchy, the dynamics have not always gone well, the information has been hidden or we have not wanted to participate.

My opinion:

From my experience, it is important or to be in a safe context if there is a hierarchy in the group or if it is done with people within the same context or group without hierarchical disparity in ability. And always in a constructive way, asking if they will feel comfortable with the dynamics, never forcing, that also gives them a temperature level of their confidence to express themselves in public, open or how safe their context is.

My conclusion:

I believe that the level of secure context or hierarchy of the group in which the dynamics are carried out is very important to avoid the lack of involvement or transparency. It can be introduced as an innocent technique of "let's meet" but first we should know the context of the group, unless they have no relationship between them because they are from different areas or departments and not work together.