Teamwork


Two-pizza rules, diversity for efficiency, communication

I would like more quantified and peer-reviewed content here, buit I will take what I can get.

Coda Hale, Work is work:

Keep the work parallel, the groups small, and the resources local.

When presented with a set of problems which grow superlinearly intractable as \(N\) increases, our best bet is to keep \(N\) small. If the organization’s intent is to increase value delivery by hiring more people, work efforts must be as independent as possible. …

Prioritize the development of force multipliers.

If an organization is largely working on the same types of problems it was in previous years, it’s cause for concern.

mhoye writes on software companies and the lessons they offer for management feedback, including a link to Dorian Taylor’s Agile as Trauma

The Agile Manifesto is an immune response on the part of programmers to bad management. The document is an expression of trauma, and its intellectual descendants continue to carry this baggage. While the Agile era has brought about remarkable advancements in project management techniques and development tools, it remains a tactical, technical, and ultimately reactionary movement. As long as Agile remains in this position it will be liable to backfire, vulnerable to the very depredations of bad management it had initially evolved to counter.

Denise Yu, Habits of high-functioning teams:

Generous communication between peers means that at all times, we assume that anyone asking a question:

  • Has done the basic research, e.g. they’ve googled the thing already
  • Is asking a human, because they’ve been unable to find their answer in any written-down place. Because that written-down place is difficult to find, or it doesn’t exist yet.

In other words: assume your peer is a competent, intelligent, reasonable person who is asking a question because they’re lacking context, that they’ve already attempted to procure on their own.

There is some famous Google research here (not peer-reviewed, mind).

Google: Foster psychological safety

Of the five key dynamics of effective teams that the researchers identified, psychological safety was by far the most important. The Google researchers found that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.

Ben Reinhardt Why does DARPA work?

Gallons of ink have been spilled describing how DARPA works1, but in a nutshell here is how DARPA works. Around 100 program managers (PMs) with ~5 year appointments create and run programs to pursue high-level visions like “actualize the idea of man-computer symbiosis.” In these programs they fund researchers at universities and both big and small companies to do research projects of different sizes. Collectively, groups working on projects are called performers. Top-level authority lies with a Director who ultimately reports to the Secretary of Defense. DARPA has an incredibly powerful model for innovation in defense research, and I believe an abstract ‘ARPA Model’ could yield similar results in other domains. In this piece I’ll explain in detail why DARPA works. I’ll use that description to feel out and describe to the best of my ability a platonic ARPA Model.

Bergh, Jeroen C J M van den, and John M Gowdy. 2009. “A Group Selection Perspective on Economic Behavior, Institutions and Organizations.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 72 (1): 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2009.04.017.

Chater, Nick. n.d. “Would You Stand up to an Oppressive Regime or Would You Conform? Here’s the Science.” The Conversation. Accessed March 9, 2020. http://theconversation.com/would-you-stand-up-to-an-oppressive-regime-or-would-you-conform-heres-the-science-124469.

Couzin, Iain D., Christos C. Ioannou, Güven Demirel, Thilo Gross, Colin J. Torney, Andrew Hartnett, Larissa Conradt, Simon A. Levin, and Naomi E. Leonard. 2011. “Uninformed Individuals Promote Democratic Consensus in Animal Groups.” Science 334 (6062): 1578–80. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1210280.

Duhigg, Charles. 2016. “What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.” The New York Times: Magazine, February 25, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html.

Dunbar, Robin I M. 1993. “Coevolution of Neocortex Size, Group Size and Language in Humans.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16: 681.

Klug, Michael, and James P. Bagrow. 2016. “Understanding the Group Dynamics and Success of Teams.” Royal Society Open Science 3 (4). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160007.

Mohdin, Aamna. 2016. “After Years of Intensive Analysis, Google Discovers the Key to Good Teamwork Is Being Nice.” Quartz. February 26, 2016. https://qz.com/625870/after-years-of-intensive-analysis-google-discovers-the-key-to-good-teamwork-is-being-nice/.

Sornette, Didier, Thomas Maillart, and Giacomo Ghezzi. 2014. “How Much Is the Whole Really More Than the Sum of Its Parts? 1 ⊞ 1 = 2.5: Superlinear Productivity in Collective Group Actions.” PLoS ONE 9 (8): e103023. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103023.

Trouche, Emmanuel, Emmanuel Sander, and Hugo Mercier. 2014. “Arguments, More Than Confidence, Explain the Good Performance of Reasoning Groups.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 2431710. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2431710.