Google’s Quest to Build the Perfect Team

google algorithm

At Google, we’re good at finding patterns … there weren’t strong patterns here
Abeer Dubey – Google Manager People Analytics

But Google dug deep to discover the algorithm of the perfect team.

The New York Times recently published an in-depth article on Google’s 5 yearlong study on why some teams soar beyond expected performance while others fail to reach their true potential. You read that right. It took 60 months of data crunching for the uncontested masters of data analysis to find reliable insights into what makes High Performance Teams.

Key Takeouts from Google.

The results were reassuring to us in some regards. They also provided valuable lessons that will guide us moving forward.

Here are the reassuring bits:

  • It is not easy to understand and replicate High Performance Teams. We spend a lot of time with clients organizing and facilitating high performance teams. We do this because effective teams are key to achieving and maintaining business success in today’s uncertain business environment. Typically, the teams we work with reach their objectives but don’t go much beyond. Every so often we encounter an organization that simply hits the stratosphere. We wish we could do more of that.
  • After trying out many different approaches, we settled a few years ago on the Katzenbach and Smith model for High Performance Teams. The reasons are quite simple: the model focuses on both performance and team effectiveness and it works. Google’s results show that both performance and team effectiveness are key to success. So, we are on the right track.


Katzenbach & Smith model

Katzenbach and Smith model

Google Insights are Gold.

Now for the new and valuable insights from the Google study:

  • The difference between expected and exceptional performance lies in the team effectiveness. High Performance Teams operate under a set of norms which guide behavior. These norms result in team members speaking roughly the same amount of time. In other words, everyone contributes. The other key behavior is team members are in tune with the way others feel and as such, they are sensitive to each other’s needs. These findings describe “a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.”



Performance and team effectiveness are key to success of High Performance Teams

These insights may seem like common sense to some, but they are pure gold to us. They provide the keys to unlock the potential of teams to soar from the expected to the exceptional.


Original New York Times article of Feb 25 2016 by Charles Duhigg entitled “What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team


doug dean

Doug Dean is the COO of Human Capital Group Asia




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