02 Sep 2014


Robert S. Huckman
Faculty


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Managers know that individuals who have experience working together can influence team performance. Yet most managers underestimate the benefit of such familiarity, according to Robert S. Huckman, Professor and Chair of the MBA Required Curriculum. Studying teams in corporate, health care, military, and consulting settings, Huckman has backed intuition with hard data. In a software services firm, for example, he found that when familiarity increased by 50 percent, defects decreased by 19 percent and deviations from budget decreased by 30 percent. “People who have collaborated before work better together than people who haven’t—and most organizations could do a far better job of exploiting this simple but powerful insight,” he says.

Huckman’s research points to five factors that make team familiarity powerful: the ability to communicate effectively, an understanding of who has knowledge about what, group experience in adapting to change, the likelihood of integrating information to develop innovative solutions, and the competitive advantage of team capabilities that competitors cannot replicate.

(Published September 2014)

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