2 Proven Behaviors That Make Dumb Teams Smart

Team intelligence, under the right conditions, exceeds the intelligence of individual team members.

Many teams are dumber than their individual members. Corporate teams may be the dumbest of all.

the longer one person speaks the dumber teams become

5 questions to determine if you’re on a dumb team:

If you answer, “I can’t remember,” to any of the following questions, you’re on a dumb team. It doesn’t matter that individual members are talented and smart.

  1. When was the last time someone disagreed with the leader? Dominant team members make teams dumb.
  2. When was the last time responses felt unscripted and spontaneous? New ideas break from the script.
  3. When was the last time team members aggressively debated conflicting suggestions? Respectful conflict and constructive dissent spark innovation.
  4. When was the last time a teammate asked how another member felt? Self-protection blocks connection. Disconnection makes teams dumb.
  5. When was the last time you explored a “crazy” idea? You don’t think new ideas fit the mold. Do you?

A team gets dumber:

I recall feeling belittled by a skillful backstabber in a meeting. Her behavior was accepted. Back then, I didn’t have the insight or self-confidence to withstand the attack. I learned the team wasn’t safe. The team grew dumber because I stopped speaking up.

Teams get dumber when honesty, transparency, candor, and constructive dissent are punished.

From dumb to smart:

Research shows it’s easier to build smart teams than you think.

#1. Create balanced participation. Expect everyone to participate with the same frequency and duration, on average. Eliminate monologues. Keep a checklist of everyone’s participation.

The longer one person speaks, the dumber teams become.

#2. Practice social sensitivity. Connection makes teams smarter. Explore, don’t ignore emotion. “Professional” teams are dumb. Teams with more women tend to be smarter than teams with more men.

Smart teams may not be soft, but they are safe.

(Research: SCIENCE AAAS)

Have you been on a smart team? What made it smart?

*I first read about smart teams in Charles Duhigg’s book, “Smarter Faster Better.

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