• Group Science

Optimising Group Performance - Core Design Principles

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

How would you rate your group's recent performance? It might be easy to respond with a fairly general description like 'crap', or 'really good actually' or some variation in between. Even in the absence of any objective feedback such as KPI's we can all intuitively make an assessment. Either the group has been humming along smoothly with all cylinders firing, or maybe it has felt like everything and everyone is a struggle, with the in-fighting and bickering getting worse on a daily basis.

The challenge regardless of which end of the performance continuum your group sits is to understand why...why are we doing great or conversely why are we doing so bad? For every group there are a set of unique combinations of group members, group task and purpose, existing culture/s, group longevity, current challenges/opportunities/circumstance, etc. This might suggest that the answer to the 'why' of our current performance would be very specific to each group and their unique circumstance. However this is only true in part.

There are a set of proven core design principles [based on evolutionary and behavioural science] that any group in any circumstance and context can apply to optimise their performance. For those consistently at the top of their game are probably applying by default some/all of these principles however by consciously identifying and continuing to work on them would provide assurance that the good times will keep on rolling. For those groups at the other of the performance continuum applying these principles provide the road map to salvation.

So to the principles...listed below but merely the tip of the iceberg!

1. Strong group identity and understanding of purpose

2. Equitable distribution of contributions and benefits

3. Fair and inclusive decision making

4. [Peer based] monitoring of agreed behaviours

5. Graduated response to increased unhelpful and helpful behaviours

6. Fast and fair conflict resolution

7. Authority to self-govern [according to principles 1-6]

8. Collaborative relations with other groups

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