Teamwork and the New Science

What’s the worst “team building” event you’ve ever been on?

If you’re thinking about the time you had to play a lame roleplaying game a la “The Office”, or the time a facilitator made you write your “values” on an egg, count yourself lucky. A large fast-food chain sent its leadership team on a “firewalking” course – which helps productivity not at all – and they ended up going to hospital with burned feet in a fleet of 13 ambulances. Secret herbs and spices, anyone?

One reason there is so much rubbish out there in the name of team development is that there is no way to measure the results. And if results can’t be measured, then you might as well just hire the company that looks prettiest, charges the least, sounds the most plausible, or has friends in the organization. After all, it’s just “teambuilding”.

There is a revolution coming in the world of team and leadership training, and it’s called “Team Neurodynamics”. It’s no fad or fashion, but a genuine revolution which has been embraced by the American Psychiatric Association and institutions like UCLA, the U.S. Nuclear Navy and Sandia Labs. The innovation is that we can now, with EEG and other technology, look at the brain’s inner workings directly – and thus we can create good models of what works and what does not work for the very first time.

Team Results USA and UCLA have been doing research together in team neurodynamics for the last 18 months, and the results are astonishing. We’ve seen that teams innovate, adapt and change much faster than anyone thought; and that most of the old models for teamwork are wrong. For example, healthy teams – even expert nuclear submarine teams – don’t operate in that everybody-holds-hands, collegiate, “kumbaya” mode for most of the time. The collegiate mode is necessary, but is seen less than 4% of the time – so it’s wrong to beat yourself up when you don’t see it much at work.

The new science of neurodynamics is the biggest change in our understanding of people since the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud. It means a complete, 180-degree shift from observing behavior and guessing what it means – and your guess is often as good as anyone else’s – to observing the brain directly and seeing what’s really going on. It’s like the difference between trying to diagnose a car from the engine noise, and being allowed to lift the hood and actually look at the engine.

To read more about the latest discoveries in teamwork and the new science – and thus get ahead of the curve yourself – click here for an update and some pictures of experiments being done right now.

Team Results’ contact for these modern methods and ideas is John Kolm. He can be reached at .

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