Google's Project Aristotle and Belbin

Project Aristotle, named as a tribute to Aristotle’s quote, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, was the code name for Google's more than two year project into what makes a Google team effective. 

Interestingly, Dr Meredith Belbin conducted very similar research over a 9 year period and identified some similar and very useful findings, only it was decades before.

Just calling a group of people a team, does not in practice, transform them into a team. In practice, many of us need to understand a lot more about teams before we can contribute to them or lead them.

If Google thought this was worth 2 years of research, let this be an indication to us all:  understanding how teams operate and what makes them effective is well worth the time.

Horizon have been passionate users of Belbin Team Roles for several years and have seen it used with great success across many of our clients - allowing them to understand how to positively affect the 5 things also identified by Google's research (see below for a list of these). 

Horizon are currently working with a number of leaders, helping them to build and lead real teams, not just an assembly of people. We put Belbin into context and use an integrated model that can be easily and effectively translated into practical application. Please check out our workshops page or contact us directly for more information.

Here are the 5 elements identified from Google’s research:

  1. Psychological safety: Team members need a safe environment to take risks and make mistakes 

  2. Dependability: a team needs to be made up of the right mix of team roles in order to and for members to confidently rely upon one another

  3. Structure and clarity: Clear roles, ground rules, plans and goals so each person on the team understands where they fit and what they have to offer

  4. Meaning: This is one of our favourites and credit to Ken Blanchard in his study of the Squirrel—employees need to have worthwhile work, they need to know what they're doing makes a contribution.

  5. Impact: One of the characteristics of an effective team is they all have a shared goal—and they should know the part they play in contributing to it.