Project Aristotle: Google’s 2 Year Team Building Endeavour

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Business | Comments Off on Project Aristotle: Google’s 2 Year Team Building Endeavour

Project Aristotle: Google’s 2 Year Team Building Endeavour

Google is a household name, known across the world. It is, quite obviously, a large company, with many departments dealing in endeavours, not least of which is Google’s many studies into better understanding the human element of a company.

That particular goal amounts to numerous team study projects, countless team building activites, massive amounts of data and millions upon millions of dollars spent. One such initiative towards this goal is Project Aristotle, wherein the company gathered some of its best and brightest members in order to pin down the hidden secrets that make teams so effective. Specifically, Project Aristotle is aimed at the reasons as to why some teams fell behind others; it was a quest to discover what let teams excel.

Project Aristotle was led by Google’s Director of People Analytics, Abeer Dubey. The initiative was aimed at finding the right mix of skills, backgrounds, and traits to create the best teams. The effort involved as many of the relevant experts as possible, including statisticians, sociologists, engineers, and researchers, among others.

Before the project, Google Execs, and the vast majority of relevant organisations, believed that the key to building the best teams was to bring together the best people, mixed in with the occasional team building activites, which, of course, was a very logical way of looking at things. Google’s People Analytics Manager, Julia Rozovsky, said that this was wrong. Very wrong.

The initiative proceeded for 2 years, and, in that time, managed to study 180 of Google’s many teams,  holding at least 200 interviews, and analyzed team attributes. But even still, there was no clear, definable pattern as to which characteristics could be used as a basis for a ‘perfect-team algorithm’.

Google managed to learn though, after some time, and some of their findings have been released prior in the New York Times. The change in pace was brought upon when Rozovsky and the project team decided to take into account what are called by psychologists and sociologists as ‘group norms’, they are the unwritten rules that govern how a team operates.

With that, the team used data and research from a group of psychologists from Carnegie Mellon, Union College and MIT, which they then used to seek out unspoken customs in their data, looking for any team behaviour that improved group performance and intelligence.

These traits were outlined by the Project Aristotle team, and shared on Google’s Re:Work website, which is Google’s platform for research and information regarding people operations.

The five traits are as follows:

  • Dependability: team members accomplished tasks and met expectations
  • Structure and clarity: the team has clear goals, and are organized, with well-defined roles
  • Meaning: the work of more successful teams has tangible, personal significance to its members
  • Impact: the group’s work has a clear, notable purpose
  • Psychological Safety: The group’s environs allow its members to take risks, speak their minds freely, and inquire without judgement or scrutiny.