Contrary to popular belief, having the best individuals doesn’t necessarily translate to the best performance. It’s the quality of the team that matters most. This notion is backed by a myriad of studies. For instance, MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that patterns of communication were the most important predictor of a team’s success. Not only that, but these patterns were as significant as all the other factors—intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions—combined.

In another study, Google’s Project Aristotle discovered that psychological safety, or the ability of each team member to express themselves without fear of retribution, is the key to the best-performing teams. The study found no significant correlation between individual performance and team performance.

Moreover, it’s not just about picking the right people, but also about designing the team correctly. According to research by J. Richard Hackman, a leading expert on teams, up to 60% of a team’s effectiveness is determined by the quality of its design. This includes factors like the clarity of goals and the alignment of incentives.

The takeaway is clear: to maximise performance, focus on building the best teams, not just hiring the best individuals. This involves fostering open communication, ensuring psychological safety, and designing the team with clear goals and aligned incentives.

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