People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15

The analysis of the relative importance of teams versus individuals, unit
by unit, will have many day to day implications on what managers do. It also
sets the basis for thinking about most
difficult tension: rewards.
We're all well aware that if we rewarded individuals, they may be motivated
to make themselves look good at the
expense of team performance; and if
we rewarded for team performance,
the better performers may leave. One
can try various tricks to handle this
dilemma, such as rewarding individuals
for being good team players. However,
I think it's a mistake to try to design
the problem away. You want managers
to embrace the tension and constantly
monitor if rewards are beginning to
undermine performance due to too
much focus on either individuals or on
teams-and this is of course based on
a sound analysis of what drives performance in the particular case.
Communication should be the
easy element in managing the tension

situation, which direction we need to
lean. Learn to enjoy navigating the
tension or it will be an endless source
of anxiety for you.
David Creelman is the founder of Creelman Research, Toronto, Canada. He can be
reached at dcreelman@creelmanresearch.
com.

C OUNT E RPOINT

How To Build a
Smarter Team (It's
Not What You Think)
By Michael Bungay Stanier

T

he obvious thing to build a
smarter team is to add more
smart people to it. It turns out
that this doesn't work. Nor do some
other "common sense" activities make

Communication should be the easy element in
managing the tension between individuals and
teams, but we often get it wrong. Communication
should reflect our actual reward strategy.
between individuals and teams, but we
often get it wrong. Communication
should reflect our actual reward strategy. If we lean towards rewarding teams,
let's say so and recognize the possible
downsides. If we lean towards rewarding
individuals, let's not go around communicating that it's all about teams. Employees are smart enough to understand
the tension and we shouldn't try to hide
the fact that it's something the organization can never get perfectly right.
The bottom line is that we need to
put on the "teams matter more" glasses
to see what that reveals, then slip on
the "individuals matter more" glasses for an opposing view. We are not
looking for a tidy, relaxing solution; we
just want to understand the tensions
and decide, based on the particular

a difference: kicking the slackers off,
adding more extroverts, adding more
people committed to the team. So what
does make the difference?
A study by psychologist Chris Chabris1-best known for his part in the
Invisible Gorilla research2 that explores
the nature of attention-reveals that
there are three factors that make a
team smarter, factors that work for both
in-person and virtual teams.
The first factor is "the equality in
distribution of conversational turn-taking." What that translates to for us is
the extent to which conversation in
a team is shared and more voices are
heard, rather than it being dominated
by one or two (typically the leader). The
second factor, revealed by the fantastically named Reading the Mind Through

the Eyes test, depends on team member's
ability to understand what their colleagues are feeling. In short, empathy.
And the final factor, and probably the
most provocative? Add more women to
the team.3
It turns out that to make your team
smarter, you need to be braver. Because, as a leader, it takes courage to
stop talking and allow other voices in
the team to be heard. It takes courage
to actually connect with how people are
feeling and to respond to and manage
that.
And not just courage. Practice as
well. The challenge is most of us are
advice-giving machines. As soon as
someone starts to talk, the wheels start
spinning, the cogs start turning...and
even though they're likely describing
a complex issue involving challenges
and people we can't possibly hope to
understand, after mere seconds, we've
already got the idea, the suggestion,
the solution, and now we're just waiting
for them to stop talking so we can tell
them what to do. So we have to learn to
stay curious a little longer and rush to
action and advice-giving a little more
slowly.
The easiest technology? A few good
questions-you need to be more coachlike. Stay curious a little longer, and in
doing so encourage voice and empathy, and in doing so make your team
smarter.
Michael Bungay Stanier is founder and
CEO of Box of Crayons, Toronto, Canada,
and Author of The Coaching Habit. He can
be reached at mbs@boxofcrayons.com.

References
Woolley, Anita Williams, Christopher F.
Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and
Thomas W. Malone. "Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance
of Human Groups." Science 330 (October 29,
2010): 686-688.
1

"The Invisible Gorilla." Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. Accessed February
14, 2018. http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.
com/gorilla_experiment.html.
2

3
Woolley, Anita and Thomas W. Malone.
"Defend Your Research: What Makes a
Team Smarter? More Women." Harvard
Business Review, June 2011.

VOLUME 41 | ISSUE 2 | SPRING 2018

15


http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
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