The Research

Data Driven Not Supposition 

We feel that team building programs should be built on real data and solid research and not on anecdotal evidence. We are involved in a major research study with Carnegie Mellon University, and some of the top minds in the world, to learn how to help teams become more effective. So far we’ve collected detailed observational data from 3,000 teams and are using it to better understand how teams work in the critical areas of investigative thinking and problem solving.

 

The research started as a way for us to test, if the concepts we were teaching were accurate. We soon found out that there was a lot that we didn't truly understand about teams and a deeper research study was needed. we formalized our research system and reached out to other top researchers in the field. We were fortunate to come in contact with Anita Woolley and her research staff at Carnegie Mellon University. Some publications rank Anita as the second most influential behavioral scientist alive today. 

With Anita and her teams help, we were able to create a system for observing teams and extracting valid information on many aspects of team behavior. The system included detailed observational data combined with video of teams solving complex problems in a controlled environment under time pressure. We partnered with Mystery Escape Room based in Salt Lake City Utah to provide the research data from the study of participants at their escape rooms.

 

The partnership with Mystery Escape Room gave us the unique opportunity to observe a broad spectrum of teams of all types from young children to corporate teams. It also provided a way to study many more teams than could be arranged at a university setting. Typically it would take a lot of logistics and planning to observe a few dozen teams in a year at a University. With Mystery Escape Room, we get that and more in a typical week. With this partnership, we've studied more than 3,000 teams and that number is growing every day. It is one of the largest, if not largest, collections of data on team behavior ever put together, making our research more accurate than other similar studies. 

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Anita Williams Woolley

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The Results

Sample size 5,424 teams

Time to complete a 60-minute assignment.

The top 2% completed their assignment in 41.6 minutes.

The bottom 2% took 223.79 minutes

Overall average completion time was 75.83 minutes

This tells us that the top 2% of teams get their assignments done well before their deadlines, more than 30% faster. The average for teams is to miss their deadlines by 26%. The bottom 2% of teams take more than 5 times as long to finish their assignments.

 

We broke teams down into groups based on the following.

Corporate groups are defined as teams from a company or organization.

Friends are groups who know each other but do not work together.

Family are groups who are all from the same family.

Strangers are groups who meet for the first time just before the event.

The most underrepresented group in our top 2% were corporate teams having only 9 teams. They were followed closely by families with only 10 teams. For both of those groups, it represented less than 1% of their respective groups. Groups of friends fared better with 2% of them making it into the top 2%. The big surprise was that 4% of teams made up of strangers made it into the top teams with a total of 23 teams in the top 2%.

We measured teams in several factors including communication, motivation, and organization. Here are the results.

The charts below show additional data that give further insight into how teams behave. 

We saw significantly higher levels of internal communication in the top 2%.

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The top teams had higher levels of self-organization.

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Team motivation to work together was much higher in the top 2%.

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The top 2% had less internal conflict at 8%.

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The top teams had very little wasted time. compared to the bottom 2% and an average team.

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The top teams had more fun than other teams.

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We also discovered some big differences in the teams’ collective personalities.

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This chart shows how the teams ranked in different areas of personality. for example, the top teams are more open to new ideas represented by the blue dot being closer to open.  from this we can see the following:

  • Top teams are more open to new ideas from their team members.

  • Top teams are more focused on solutions and are not as distracted.

  • Top teams are more aggressive in looking for solutions.

  • Top teams are more active by taking initiative to find solutions. This attribute seems to have the highest spread between the top teams and the bottom teams. 

  • Top teams are more deductive in solving problems. Here we see our narrowest spread.

  • Top teams are more independent. Team members are more likely to find and work on solutions without needing direction from a team leader.