Google: Project Aristotle

By: Kenzie Fischer

In order to accomplish difficult tasks and brainstorm new ideas, large firms usually divide their workers into teams. Working together in groups has been proven to be more effective than working individually; assuming you have a productive group that gets along well. What exactly makes an “effective team”? According to (re:Work, 2016) teams are interdependent. The team members plan work, solve problems, make decisions, and review progress in service of a specific project. When Google launched Project Aristotle, they looked at over 100 teams of workers within their own company to figure out what exactly makes an efficient team.

In google-search2012, Google conducted a study called Project Aristotle. The main goal of Project Aristotle was to look at teams and figure out why certain groups worked while others did not. The study included Google’s top employees such as, psychologists, sociologists, and engineers. These employees believed that making the best teams meant combining the best people. The teams soon learned that this was not the case. At first, researchers found no patterns as to what made a team sink or swim; the composition of a team seemed to make no difference. While looking at past research, they continuously found that groups have norms that they followed. Norms are the “traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather” (Duhigg, 2016). When researchers began looking for norms within a group, they found there was inappropriate behavior within the groups. Some said that teammates interrupted each other constantly and that the team leaders would reinforce them by interrupting others themselves. After looking at over 100 groups for more than a year, Project Aristotle’s researchers found that understanding group norms were essential to improving Google’s teams.

In 2008, Harvard conducted a study to see if a group’s success had anything to do with the overall IQ of the group members. They divided over 600 people into small groups and gave them each a series of assignments. Some teams came up with numerous different uses. Other teams just kept describing the same ideas in different ways. What the researchers found was that teams that did well on one study typically did well on all the others. Therefore, teams that did poorly on one assignment seemed to fail at everything. Eventually they found that the success of the group was not dependent on the overall IQ and that a group full of average intelligence members could out- perform groups with all high IQ members (Duhigg, 2016).

Researchers soon found an important trend within the high performing groups in Project Aristotle; they all had high psychological safety. Psychological safety is defined as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up” (Duhigg, 2016). With this discovery, everyone just suddenly understood. Another characteristic that was found to lead groups to success was their connection with each other. For example; one of the team’s leaders, Matt Sakaguchi, confessed that he has been struggling with cancer. This led others feel comfortable enough to bring up their own personal issues, which led to the connection with one another. This then led to more success within the team.

I found the results from Project Aristotle fascinating. I am not surprised that team members that have a connection will out- perform those who do not. Some people have that connection, and others just don’t. What really caught my attention was the example of Team A and Team B. It was difficult for me to choose what team I would want to join. I eventually settled for Team B. I think it is important to stay on track and get everything done that needs to be done, but I found that it would be hard for me to participate in Group A. Like the studies found, I would be more comfortable in a group with people I have a good connection with and who I would not be afraid to share my ideas with.

 

References

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved October 02, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=1

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/define-team/

Behind the Scenes: Google

by Chaise A. Perez

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Photo Credit: http://www.google.com

Introduction

Google has the meaning of “team” locked down. At first, they had no clue of how to have successful teams that worked the best together to reach their maximum potential. They wanted to create the perfect or best teams with the best people in them. Google had no idea how to create these teams and Google’s People Operations department discovered that there was no research done within the company of who works best together. The purpose of this case study is to explain one of Google’s projects, Project Aristotle. Project Aristotle began in 2012, with project leader Abeer Dubey, a manager in People Analytics division of Google.

Project Aristotle

            The purpose of this study at Google was to find why some of their teams did very well and why some did very poorly. The researchers wanted to see how the best teams were made. They had many questions about the formation of teams. Google’s researchers wanted to know if the best teams were made by people who were similar, people who similar educational experiences, if they teams were friends not just in the office, and what personalities matched up. They tried to balance the gender and watched how well and how long the teams worked together in multiple different types of group environments.

The key findings that the researchers at Google were they could never find certain patterns or noticed any type of team stuck out and seemed to work the best. They began their research by reading another academic study they found about how teams can and cannot work together. Then they gathered 180 different teams to study. Teams that had “friends” or people who were in contact outside of the office seemed to be ranked in some of the more effective teams. Another one of the other ranked teams were people who did not know each other at all, they were complete strangers. The most effective team they found was people who were almost exactly the same working together. They tried to focus their time on the “group norms” found within the research. “Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather,” (nytimes.com).

Critical Analysis

            Google discovered that it didn’t matter who was on the team, it mattered how well the teams worked together. I believe their research was very well planned out and thought through. I believe the results that Google had, show that you need to study people in their own environments and other in environments to see what they could bring to the table. The main goal is to see how they work with other people and make sure they are efficient in everything they do.

I believe that the study’s findings are accurate, but I do believe that there can be certain qualities that make teams or groups effective. There are certain characteristics that could definitely work well together. In class, we learned about the advantages of organizational relationships. These advantages could have definitely been put to good use in their research. The advantages include: social interaction, social support, minority influence, and it has a flow of information. Each of these advantages bring their own importance to working with groups. Working with these advantages can definitely increase the efficiency and speed of progress.

One time I had participated with a group that worked effectively was back my freshman year of college preparing and running the pep rally. We had certain characteristics to bring the team. There were people who were super outgoing who passed out tickets, the intention was to get whoever was coming in excited, the more quite people ran the raffle ticket table, they did not have to do much communicating, there were the people who were mediocre that lead students to the student section and non-students to the other sections, and lastly there were the event coordinators who did all the behind-the-scenes things, who did a lot of working with people to put it together, but not when the event came, they stayed back and let the rest of us do our jobs. With our different characteristics, we all did our jobs and exceed the expectations of those above us. The pep rally went every well and it was very successful thanks to everyone who stepped up.

References

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/introduction/

 

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=1

 

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729

B. (2016). Google’s Project Aristotle: Cracking the Code of Successful Teams. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://medium.com/@Bolste/google-s-project-aristotle-cracking-the-code-of-successful-teams-e8847743502#.78dzc9y3s

 

Daivon Barrow

Daivon Barrow is a senior here at Ashland University. Daivon is a Sport communication unnamedmajor with a minor in sport management. Daivon is also a four year lettermen on the varsity football team here at Ashland University.

Daivon is a leader here at Ashland University. He is the president of Brothers in Action. An organization he created on his own to help improve the interactions, conversations, and dialogues within all males on campus. Daivon is also is the presidential intern. With this opportunity Daivon directly works with President Campo on projects supporting the mission statement and purpose of Ashland University. Also with his busy schedule Daivon is also the vice president of the senior class. He serves on student senate here at Ashland University. Daivon is also the event coordinator of the black student alliance.

Daivon has struggled interacting with other people when he first arrived at AU. He has overcome this challenge, and now he is extremely active. One of his ways by overcoming his challenge was to start an organization. He has dialogues with people no matter their ethnicity, and succeeds at it.

Some of Daivon’s hobbies are working out, and reading. Daivon loves to read. He says that reading relaxes him faster than anything. Some other things that Daivon loves to do is volunteer. He volunteer at a local little league football team in Columbus to help the kids with their technique, and passion for the game. Daivon has also volunteered at his high school to help raise money for funding for the school so they can earn new school equipment.

Daivon ultimate goal is to have his own organization that creates structure and uplift to young males in the inner city. His goal is to get them accustomed to a lot of different opportunity that involves their future in higher education. He is very passionate about working and being an inspiration for the young males.

Reagan Wheeler

img_4174Reagan Wheeler is a junior at Ashland University. She is double majoring in Sport Communication and Public Relations and Strategic Communication with a minor in Health and Risk Communication.

During her second semester of college she worked in the campus library. Then, throughout her sophomore year she had a job in the Public Relations office on campus writing feature stories on students in different clubs, sports and about internships completed by students.

In the summer of 2015, Reagan got a job at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio where she is still employed. Prasco Park is a family owned pharmaceutical company that has built up its own summer baseball team over the years. Reagan works all baseball games in the summer doing many different things at the field. Her responsibilities include making food in the concession stand, working the concession window, working inflatables, set up and clean up, wiping seats before games and doing trash at the end of the day. She has also had the job of field coordinator, which is the person who is contacted if there are any issues during the game.

Currently, Reagan is working for the Ashland University Athletic Department filming for the football team. Her job is to film practices and games for the team to analyze. She is also currently interning with Ashland University’s Grid Iron Club. Her main responsibility is to run all social media for the Ashland University Football Team. Posting to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat at least once or multiple times a day. During games she keeps fans updated on the score, who scored, yardage gained, who made the tackle and so on. Throughout the week she posts pictures and tweets from games or events that happened or are upcoming.

Sports are a huge interest of Reagan’s and even more specifically, football. She hopes to one day continue in following her passion for the sport by running social media for either a college or professional team.

MacKenzie Fischer

Mimg_1530acKenzie Fischer is a junior here at Ashland University. She is a double major in Public Relations/ Strategic Communications and Health and Risk Communications. She is an AU cheerleader and a member of Epsilon Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi sorority. MacKenzie joined Alpha Phi in the fall of her sophomore year. She wanted to step out of her comfort zone and do something she had never considered before. Alpha Phi has increased her communication skills and her confidence in herself. She has many expectations and responsibilities within the chapter, but they only inspire her to grow and succeed.

MacKenzie has been with several past employers all at different places. She has been a dance coach for the past 5 years alongside her mom who owns the dance studio. Since her sophomore year of high school, she has worked at Strip Steakhouse and Nemo Grille. At both restaurants, she worked as a hostess and a waitress. This past summer, MacKenzie worked at Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, where she was the leading saleswoman.

MacKenzie has struggled with an eating disorder since she was 12 years old and is extremely proud to say that she is recovered. She has struggled with anxiety since a very young age, which affected her schooling drastically, as well as her social life. MacKenzie has since then overcome her anxieties and has held positions in her sorority where she has also met some of her closest friends.

Some of MacKenzie’s personal hobbies include shopping, going out for coffee, and hanging out with her friends. Her friends and family are the most important people to her because they are the ones who are always there for her and always support her. Her family always keeps her grounded and remind her where she comes from. For the past three years, she has volunteered for the National Eating Disorder Association at their annual walks to raise money and is continuing this tradition by volunteering at the walk in Cleveland on October 15th.

MacKenzie’s ultimate goal in life is to work for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). In the summer of 2017, she plans to move to New York and intern at NEDA as the public relations intern, where she will attend department meetings to increase knowledge and understanding of community outreach and partnership in a non- profit organization.

Chaise Perez

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Chaise Perez is a sophomore at Ashland University , where she is a double major in Sports Communication and Public Relations/Strategic Communication, as well as completing a double minor in Production and Marketing. She very much enjoys being as involved as she can, that is why she is in four different organizations on campus. She is a member of the Epsilon Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi, Sports Communication Club, Accent on Public Relations, and Journalism and Digital Media Club. In her chapter of Alpha Phi, she apart of the Campus Affairs department where she holds the Lip Sync and Greek Week Chair. She is also the treasurer of her Sports Communication Club. While being a full-time student, Chaise works in the Public Relations office on campus.

When Chaise is not at school, she usually just takes care of her family and spends time with loved ones. She previously worked at Dunkin’ Donuts as a cashier and with the Youngstown Flag Football Association as a videographer. Chaise loves being a videographer, it is one of her many hobbies and personal interests. A few of her other interests are sports, staying active, and volunteering. For four years, Chaise has volunteered her time to be a camp counselor for Camp Kelley’s Island for military kids. All of her interests definitely have influenced her future plans and her future career.

Chaise has said that since she was just a little girl, she wanted to be a sports broadcaster just like Erin Andrews. Growing up, she experienced many different things and still took steps toward this future career. However, when college hit, she took on experiences even more different than before and decided she no longer wanted to do that. Now, she would like to eventually work in the Public Relations department for a sports team, preferably one of the Cleveland teams, but any city would do just fine. Chaise would eventually like to earn enough money to either open her own camp or really contribute to Camp Kelley’s Island. She said the camp has made such an impact on her, she was to give back as much as she has received.

Anthony J. Snider

 

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Anthony Snider is currently a Junior at Ashland University.  At Ashland, he is a double major in Sport Communication as well as Public Relations and Strategic Communications.

With his degree from Ashland University Anthony hopes to work for a professional sports organization, either writing recap stories for the organization or working in the Public Relations sector of the organization.

Currently Anthony has two years of class finished toward his Bachelor’s Degree, along with an internship during the 2016 summer.  In that summer internship he worked for the Lake Erie Monarchs, a summer league baseball team that plays in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.   With the Monarchs he held many responsibilities.  During games he worked the public address system and held games for the Mini-Monarch fans in attendance in-between innings.  Along with working the public address, he was able to color commentate roughly ten of the Monarchs’ games.  After the games were finished Anthony would write the team’s post-game recap as well.  Anthony also wrote feature stories and special interest articles for the league’s website as well.

In the summer of 2017 Anthony hopes his prior knowledge and experience can help him obtain an internship with either the NFL in New York City or an MLS team.  He is planning on continuing writing recaps and feature stories.

Prior to his time at Ashland University Anthony went to Riverdale High School near Findlay, Ohio.  He grew in a small town of roughly 300 residents and only had 60 other students in his graduating class.  Anthony’s life was molded by the sports he played (football, basketball, and soccer) and wants a career in sport that he can enjoy.

Anthony is an outgoing man that likes to get to know a lot of people.  He enjoys making others laugh and holding a light-hearted approach to life.  Anthony is driven in life by the quest for a simpler and easier life for his family than that of which he grew up in.

Sabrina L. Mills

Sabrina Mills is a Junior Health and Risk Communications Major with a minor in Child and Family Studies. She is a part of the Ashland University Marching Band, as well as the Wind Ensemble and 12249959_989823551078137_7419998307371004692_nthe Concert Band. She is also an active member of the Ashland University Anime Club. This semester she will be in a program through the Ashland Center for Nonviolence to be a mentor to kids in the Ashland community. Sabrina has been involved in music for the past 11 years, and in her senior year of high school, she was awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. A personal goal that she has is to become a foster parent.

 

Sabrina’s previous employments are mostly based in the customer service industry. She has worked through Vector Marketing for Cutco Cutlery. This included selling household cutlery and utensils, as well as other various house oriented equipment, to people. Another job that Sabrina had was working at Family Video. This job entailed helping customers to pick out movies as well as ringing them up. It also entailed restocking shelves with returned movies and helping shift in new titles every week.

 

Career goals that Sabrina has include working with children and/or families. She would really like to work either in a women’s/family shelter, or in the foster care and adoption system. These careers appeal to her because with past history, she has been through similar situations as some of the people she’d like to work with. She feels as if this can help her to better connect with the people around her in these career opportunities.
A personal interest or hobby that Sabrina has is writing and music. In her spare time, Sabrina likes to write short stories or narratives. She has been writing since she was 10, and likes to make people smile with her stories. She also writes her own music pieces when she has the time.

Natalie M. Antonio

Picture of Natalie AntonioNatalie M. Antonio is a senior this year at Ashland University, where she is majoring in Health and Risk Communication with a minor in Ethics. She is involved on campus with Women’s Chorus, where she is the co-president as well as involved with  AU G.I.V.S. Natalie is also an alumna of Alpha Phi sorority. Natalie has previously worked at Emeritus at Camelot Place, a senior assisted living community, where she was a nursing assistant during her junior year of high school through her freshman year of college. This job required Natalie to think on her feet, to problem solve and respect the dignity of the residents. Currently Natalie works at Valley Tack Shop, where she sells horseback riding supplies, clothing and miscellaneous horse supplies. Natalie has been with Valley Tack Shop since the summer of her freshman year. This job has helped Natalie prepare for the future by learning team work ethic. Natalie hopes to continue working at Valley Tack after she graduates college, to support her horse habit.

An accomplishment that Natalie is extremely proud of is becoming a 4-H advisor for her 4-H club, Sharon Flying Horse and Pony. After 3 years as an active member, Natalie graduated the program when she was 18 years old, with multiple awards, from attendance awards to fundraising awards. Natalie decided to step up, give back to the club and become an advisor. To become an advisor Natalie has to undergo an FBI background check, fingerprinting, and attend multiple trainings per year to keep up her certification. Being an advisor has opened up many networking opportunities for Natalie, has made Natalie think like a leader, and  included ways to implement her communication skills she learns in the classroom at AU.

Natalie’s goals for her future career is to one day work for the Red Cross or the Peace Corps. She would love to work as a crisis manager and assist those in need after a major crisis. Natalie would also like to travel as she graduates college. Natalie has always had a knack for helping people, could see herself assisting people in their time of desperate need and hopes to tie her love of traveling into her dream jobs.

In her free time Natalie likes to ride and show her horse, Mischief Managed, or Jack as he is known around the barn. She also likes to spend time with her dog, Buster, and her family and friends.