Written by
John Scott

11 Apr 2016

Big data and high performing teams

11 Apr 2016 • by John Scott

Unlocking knowledge

Shazam is perfect for music fans who absolutely need to identify that tune right now.  

I am not a wine drinker of any knowledge or insight, but watching Vivino make sense of a wine list and then proposing an appropriate bottle is a wonderful experience.

And Saberr is a fascinating people analytics company, helping organisations make better decisions about their people. A blog from the folks at Saberr set me off in search of Alex Pentland's “Social Physics”.

Pentland defines social physics as "a quantitative social science that describes reliable, mathematical connections between information and idea flow on the one hand and people's behaviour on the other". 

It is big data at work in any number of interesting ways.  

One of Pentland's insights is that higher performing teams have even patterns of communication where members contribute equally and this process can be encouraged and strengthened in a number of ways. He turns many models of high performing teams on their head.

Conclusions from Pentland's work...

Typical economic incentives designed to reward individual performance or change behaviour don't work particularly well, but using social network incentives, e.g. peer group pressure, to increase cooperation suggests an interesting alternative.

Engagement - repeated cooperative interactions - builds trust and increases the value of a relationship which helps to establish further cooperative behaviour. This is reassuring for those of us who believe that organisations succeed because people within them work hard to find their ways through, over and under organisational barriers.  

Leaders can increase the performance of organisations by promoting healthy patterns of interaction, rather than focussing on individual high-performers and standard communication tools.

Standard operating models and forms of organisation design, particularly in global organisations, produce rigid and inefficient business processes, in the absence of regular interaction and cooperation.

Conflict can be reduced if not removed by giving more attention to interaction and cooperation and facilitating such activities.