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为什么有些团队比其他团队聪明?
2015-02-10 17:55 美联英语学习网
为什么有些团队比其他团队聪明?

ENDLESS meetings that do little but waste everyone’s time. Dysfunctional committees that take two steps back for every one forward. Project teams that engage in wishful groupthinking rather than honest analysis. Everyone who is part of an organization — a company, a nonprofit, a condo board — has experienced these and other pathologies that can occur when human beings try to work together in groups.

无穷无尽的会议几乎毫无用处,只是浪费每个人的时间。功能失调的委员会每前进一步就倒退两步。项目组总是进行想当然的小组思考,而非诚实的分析。只要你属于某个组织——公司、非营利组织、业主委员会——都会遇到类似的问题,这些问题在人类共事时经常出现。

But does teamwork have to be a lost cause? Psychologists have been working on the problem for a long time. And for good reason: Nowadays, though we may still idolize the charismatic leader or creative genius, almost every decision of consequence is made by a group. When Facebook’s board of directors establishes a privacy policy, when the C.I.A.’s operatives strike a suspected terrorist hide-out or when a jury decides whether to convict a defendant, what matters is not just the intelligence and wisdom of the individual actors involved. Groups of smart people can make horrible decisions — or great ones.

但是团队合作一定是徒劳无功的吗?心理学家们已经研究这个问题很长时间了。他们的研究很有必要:如今,虽然我们可能仍然崇拜有魅力的领导或创意天才,但是几乎每个重要决定都是团队做出的。当Facebook的董事会制定一个隐私政策时,当美国中央情报局的特工们袭击一个可疑的恐怖分子藏身处时,或者当陪审团决定被告是否有罪时,重要的不是单个参与者的聪明才智。一群聪明的人可能会做出糟糕的决定,也可能做出伟大的决定。

Psychologists have known for a century that individuals vary in their cognitive ability. But are some groups, like some people, reliably smarter than others?

心理学家们一百年前已经知道,人们的认知能力各不相同。但是团队是否也像人一样,聪明程度有所不同?

Working with several colleagues and students, we set out to answer that question. In our first two studies, which we published with Alex Pentland and Nada Hashmi of M.I.T. in 2010 in the journal Science, we grouped 697 volunteer participants into teams of two to five members. Each team worked together to complete a series of short tasks, which were selected to represent the varied kinds of problems that groups are called upon to solve in the real world. One task involved logical analysis, another brainstorming; others emphasized coordination, planning and moral reasoning.

我们几个同事、学生开始寻找这个问题的答案。我们的前两项研究是和麻省理工学院的亚历克斯·彭特兰(Alex Pentland)、娜达·哈什米(Nada Hashmi)合作进行的,2010年发表在《科学》(Science)杂志上。我们召集了697名志愿者,分成二至五人的团队。每个团队协力完成一系列小任务,这些精选出来的任务代表了现实生活中组建团队通常想解决的各种问题。有些任务需要逻辑分析或头脑风暴;有些则强调协调、计划和道德说服。

Individual intelligence, as psychologists measure it, is defined by its generality: People with good vocabularies, for instance, also tend to have good math skills, even though we often think of those abilities as distinct. The results of our studies showed that this same kind of general intelligence also exists for teams. On average, the groups that did well on one task did well on the others, too. In other words, some teams were simply smarter than others.

心理学家们经过测试发现,个人智力具有普遍性:比如,词汇量丰富的人往往计算能力也强,虽然我们通常认为这些能力没有关系。我们的研究结果表明,团队也具有这种普遍智力。平均说来,那些在某项任务上做得好的团队其他任务也完成得比较好。换句话说,有些团队就是比其他团队聪明。

We next tried to define what characteristics distinguished the smarter teams from the rest, and we were a bit surprised by the answers we got. We gave each volunteer an individual I.Q. test, but teams with higher average I.Q.s didn’t score much higher on our collective intelligence tasks than did teams with lower average I.Q.s. Nor did teams with more extroverted people, or teams whose members reported feeling more motivated to contribute to their group’s success.

然后,我们想找出聪明团队具有哪些特点,答案有点出乎我们的意料。我们单独测试了每个志愿者的智商,发现平均智商较高的团队在集体智力任务中的得分并不比平均智商较低的团队高。成员更外向、或者更愿意为团队成功做出积极贡献的团队也没有表现得更出色。

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