We do a lot of collaborating these days. But despite the number of open offices, designated “thinking” areas, and our managerial focus on small teams, we still haven’t mastered collaborative work.
In fact, we’re really bad at it.
The point of collaborating is to get everyone in a group involved and exercising their strengths. But according to the Harvard Business Review, “In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees.” In most collaborative teams, the bulk of the work still comes from a minority of participants.
In response to this imbalance in their own organization, Google launched Project Aristotle, an internal research project studying Google teams to discover why some were superior collaborators.
Google has a known penchant for quantifying everything. Project Aristotle expected to find something quantifiable, like the optimal team size or the most productive structure for group meetings. But Project Aristotle hit the ultimate irony: the key to collaboration is not a quantifiable. In fact, it wasn’t even codified. The best teams don’t have a measurable, highly visible solution to collaboration—they have an unwritten social code.