Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors

History & Research

A unique survey of teams took place at Henley Management College in the 1970s. The query posed was “What makes some teams succeed, and others break down?” The issue was a ten-year period of empirical research using a simulation. The simulation was a management game fashioned at the College to reproduce work life. It incorporated all the principal variables that typify the problems of decision-making in a business environment. The experiment was designed along scientific lines with careful measurement at each level.

Those participating were invited to take psychometric exams plus a test of high level reasoning ability (called the Critical Thinking Appraisal). Teams of various designs were compiled on the basis of these various test scores. Every half minute the contribution of the person speaking was recorded and categorized into one of seven categories by trained observers. At the close of the exercise, which ran off and on throughout a week, the results of each team (operating as a company) were presented financially, which allowed more effective and less operative “companies” to be compared. A battery of psychometric tests was assembled, representing measurements of: High level reasoning ability (the Critical Thinking Appraisal) Personality (the 16 scales of the Cattell Personality Inventory or 16PF) Outlook (the Personal Preference Questionnaire or PPQ, developed specifically for the purpose)

What was at first deemed to be likely was that high-intellect teams would succeed where lower intellect teams would not. Even So, the result of this research was that certain teams, predicted to be superior based on intellect, failed to fulfil their potential.

In fact, it grew obvious by looking at the various combinations that it was not intellect, but balance, which enabled a team to succeed. Successful “companies” were characterised by the compatibility of the roles that their members played while unsuccessful companies were vulnerable to role conflict. Applying data from psychometric tests and the CTA, prognostications could be made on the roles that individuals played and finally on whether the company would be more likely to figure among the winners or losers.

One fascinating point to observe from the experiment was that individuals responded very differently within the same broad position. It is a common experience that individual differences can induce a group to fall apart. People just don’t fit in. On the other hand, fluctuation in individual characteristics can become a reservoir of strength if they are recognised and taken account of. So understanding the nature of these differences can become an important first step in the management of individuals, providing one can spot what is useful for a given situation and what is not.

The most successful companies tended to be those with a mixture of different people, i.e. those with a range of distinct behaviours. In fact, eight distinct clusters of behaviour turned out to be distinctive and useable. These were called “Team Roles,” and in fact, a ninth established on specialist knowledge was to emerge afterwards. These team roles have been used in systems and teams across the world ever since. They have been vastly useful in making teams more efficient. Most essential is the way they can be of primary use to you as a working individual. It is up to you to decide which roles to play and which to avoid.