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Wednesday
Mar092016

More on the dynamics and communication patterns of highly effective groups

Clara’s post last week got me thinking about other research that has been undertaken regarding the dynamics of teams within the workplace, and what that data might contribute to the discussion.

The practice of allowing "Equal Share of Speaking Time" in meetings, or "Conversational Turn-Taking," has also been independently identified by MIT researchers (from my favorite group there, Human Dynamics) as one of a handful of key factor of success for teams (see this article from Harvard Business Review).

According to the MIT research, successful team meetings are characterized by the following:

  1. Everyone on the team talks and listens in roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short and sweet.

  1. Members face one another, and their conversations and gestures are energetic.
  2. Members connect directly with one another—not just with the team leader.
  3. Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team.
  4. Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back.

Personally, I love #4, which busts the myth of the necessity for stern unyielding meeting discipline.

The team at MIT has even developed an online teleconference tool that shows a visualization of the participants: a circle that starts at the middle and gets closer and closer to you if you speak too much; the objective is for the team to "keep the ball at the center.”

Image source: Harvard Business Review

-- Yassine El Ouarzazi

 

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