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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

What Makes Teams Better

What Makes Teams Better post image

I’ve heard these experience reports a number of times: when a woman joins a team the whole team dynamic changes. Usually there is sense of improvement in team performance too. Unfortunately, most teams I know couldn’t report measured improvement as they didn’t have reliable measures in place. Anyway, the experience is very consistent.

It is, unless we talk about a pure-male team that simply rejects any woman who joins. And does that a few time in a row. I know such teams too but I consider them dysfunctional.

Anyway, let’s put dysfunctional groups aside. My own experience is purely positive too. I mean anytime that a team gained a new female member it was an improvement. At least that’s how I felt.

Interestingly enough, it’s not about having a woman in a team. It’s about having as many of them as possible. The research done by Anita Woolley shows that the more females in a team the better collective intelligence of this team is.

At the same time, the same research shows that collective intelligence beats the crap out of individual intelligence. Even more so if our goal is finding solutions of complex problems. And I dare say that software development is exactly that – solving complex issues – so we should be focusing on collective intelligence, and not individual traits.

Collective intelligence was much more predictive in terms of succeeding in complex tasks than average individual intelligence or maximal individual intelligence

Anita Woolley

This changes my perception of recruitment. I was always saying that given two candidates who are on par I’d hire a woman, not a man. Taking only individual perspective into account, that’s just about right. However, when we think about teams the equation is different.

In this equation women beat men easily.

The big question is what are you going to do with this?

Personally, I know what experiment I’m going to run next. And yes, it has a lot to do with hiring. I wouldn’t use the word “parity” but it wouldn’t be improper either. We need (even) more women on bard.

I do want my teams to kick butts. How about you?

in: recruitment, team management

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