Can You Predict Team Performance?

This an entry in the series A Physics of People which contains 3 posts in total.

Team PerformanceFollowing on from a discussion on Linkedin, Steven Forth, co-founder at Nugg recently asked the following:

Are there also analytics than can let teams know, in advance, that a project is likely to fall behind or fail?

This question gets to the heart of the recent ideas around predictive team analytics and the notion of a 'Physics of People'. It also follows on from another piece from Steven where he wrote:

Emotions matter and teams need to have some form of empathy. Not something software is generally good at, so we need to find ways to compensate for this.

In addition to the points raised by Steven is research from Harvard, MIT and others, pointing to the fact that 10 - 40% of team performance is determined by psychological factors such as empathy, relational cohesion and the nature of interpersonal communication.

Predicting Team Performance

Predicting team performance is important and psychological factors are one approach that show promise. Using 4G and the Visual Team Builder (VTB), it's possible to predict how specific Social Relationships between two people will unfold and in turn, aggregate this data to look at team relationships, complex group dynamics and to see their impact on team performance.

Background and Context

Before examining the diagrams below, it's worth adding some context and background. The data collection process in order to create the diagrams is quick, taking around an hour per person and is explained in more depth here.

In addition, the diagrams from the VTB can be used to both predict the nature of specific Social Relationships amongst team members who have never met before and also used to analyse team dynamics amongst existing groups who are already working together.

In essence, the VTB lends itself as a tool to predict team performance, aid team creation, and enhance decision making and organisational design issues, along with providing coaching and developmental tips to enhance performance amongst existing team members.

Team Performance Challenges

In the first diagram, it is possible to see how the VTB highlights the nature of the different Social Relationships within teams 1, 2 and 3.

Based on a quick assessment of the diagram1, team 1 presents the greatest challenges given the red relationship lines between Fraser and Trevor and Kate and Trevor. Likewise, team 2 has 1 red and 3 yellow lines, meaning that 4 relationships from 6 are going to require high levels of time and energy in order for these particular relationships to function productively. Of the 3 teams, team 3 has the most productive relationships and all things being equal, this would be the team that would be expected to display the highest level of performance.

Team Performance Challenges

Team Performance Successes

By way of comparison, teams 4, 5 and 6 tell a different story. Firstly, team 4 is likely to be the best performing team amongst all 6 teams. This is due to the fact that this team comprises of 6 green relationships between all 4 team members.

Secondly, the three teams below all comprise the same people as the three teams above. In other words, by using the predictions available from 4G, it is possible to optimise the team creation process such that the best possible relationships are experienced by all team members. In turn, this illustrates how 4G can be used to predict team dynamics, even before team members have actually met one another.

Team Performance Success

In Conclusion

By using 4G as a guide to group dynamics, along with incorporating it's relationship predictions into team creation, organisational design and related processes, 4G offers a unique approach to both understanding and enhancing engagement levels, business outcomes and team performance.


1. The visual information from the Visual Team Builder diagrams presents a very high level summary of the team dynamics in question. In order to gain a richer picture, an analysis of the Social Profiles, Social Relationships and Social Groups in each team would need to be undertaken. This information is also available from the VTB and associated reports but is not captured in the diagram. It is also important to state that the diagrams above don't take skills or context into account e.g. tasks, experience, responsibilities or the organisational hierarchy into account.  This information is available from other sources and is easily combined with the data from the VTB in order to create a full and comprehensive understanding of the scenario in question.

Image credit: evobrained

This an entry in the series A Physics of People which contains 3 posts in total.

A Physics of People - Series Navigation
  1. Can You Predict Team Performance?
  2. A Physics of People and The 5 Criteria to Transform Business
  3. Thinking about a ‘Physics of People’

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