Why Some Teams Succeed, While So Many Fail Miserably

You probably noticed it too; there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to turning unproductive teams into highly productive ones. Fortunately, “teams” have been the subject of near-constant study in recent years so we have a lot of data we can use to improve our performance. Take a look at what I found to be working.

Communication: can we predict a team’s success or failure by its communication patterns?

You get to the office one morning and realize you missed an important meeting because someone forgot to CC you on an email. Or you don’t realize it until the meeting is long over. Or you are unable to start work on an important assignment because you haven’t received that long-awaited approval.

A lack of communication holds teams back. And let’s face it: failures resulting from poor communication arise again and again.
MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that the way people communicate can determine a team’s success or failure. The researchers attached electronic badges to members of very diverse teams to collect data on whom they interact with, for how long, when and where. As it turns out, highly successful teams have very similar communication patterns. Their members communicate very often within and outside the organization and technology plays a key role in enhancing this process.
Read more on this topic: The New Science of Building Great Teams

Access to information: high-performance teams can be “engineered”

Teams can’t function, much less succeed, if they don’t have access to good information.
Take for example our team’s communication routine. When we first started developing Hubgets, our goal wasn’t to kill emails. We simply wanted to communicate faster, less formally and without ever getting lost in infinite threads of emails. Kind of like the way we do with friends on Facebook or Whatsapp. But there is a big difference when it comes to work communication. We needed a more advanced system that would allow us to:

  • keep track of projects
  • communicate however necessary: via chat, voice or video
  • exchange files, large and small
  • search through our entire history of conversations

So we put together a complex collaboration software that does exactly what we needed and satisfies even the most demanding client: our own team members.
We ended up reducing our internal email exchange to almost 10% from what it was before, but that was just a natural outcome of a more effective collaboration. And we weren’t communicating any less, quite the opposite. A couple of things happened that ultimately lead us to believe we were on to something:

  • We got rid of long email threads.
  • We made our knowledge-base more accessible to every team member.
  • We managed to keep everyone involved in a project on the loop, without the overwhelming feeling of a full Inbox.
  • Working with our teammates is definitely more fun 😉

Ultimately, we became a better, more productive team by simply making information accessible to everyone.
Our own experience is proof that an effective collaboration platform isn’t just another communication tool, it’s a key to achieving productivity and growth in the knowledge economy.
Though the list of factors that influence a team’s success is incredibly extended, you can always make sure you have solved the essential problems. Communication and access to information can easily be improved by simply using the right tools and data, whether you choose to develop a custom platform or try one of the existing communication tools out there.
Handpicked suggestion: How to Help New Team Members Fit in and Deliver Fast


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