Tim Adams, writing for The Guardian:
The data suggested that the success of teams had much less to do with experience, education, gender balance, or even personality types; it was closely correlated with a single factor: “Does everybody talk to each other?”
Ideally this talk was in animated short bursts indicating listening, involvement and trust – long speeches generally correlated with unsuccessful outcomes. For creative groups such as drug discovery teams or for traders at financial institutions, say, the other overwhelming factor determining success was: do they also talk to a lot of people outside their group? “What we call ‘engagement’ and ‘exploration’ appeared to be about 40% of the explanation of the difference between a low-performing group and a high-performing group across all the studies,” Pentland says.
It was important that a good deal of engagement happened outside formal meetings. From this data, Pentland extrapolates a series of observations on everything from patterns of home-working (not generally a good idea) to office design (open and collegiate) to leadership. “If you create a highly energetic environment where people want to talk to each other right across the organisation then you have pretty much done your job right there.”