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Team Genius

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Team Genius

The New Science of High-Performing Organizations


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Humans naturally form groups of different sizes for different purposes. Learn how to uncover and accelerate the genius they harbor.

Editorial Rating



Business journalists Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone discuss the new science behind effective teams and why team size matters. They cover how diversity affects teams, why too much or too little conformity kills a team, and how to identify and deal with destructive team members. Karlgaard and Malone emphasize having the right number of people on your team, yet they report that cohesion matters more than head count. Their chapters on “pairs” and “trios” are especially fascinating. Pairs generally endure, but adding a third member often causes chaos. Groups of four or more tend to be stable. Larger groups have their own special parameters. getAbstract recommends this intriguing, revealing study to team builders, team leaders, professors, coaches, parents, entrepreneurs and investors.


“Dunbar’s Numbers”

Biological hardwiring makes people want to form teams. Early humans banded together to hunt. Humans don’t function as well alone; they thrive in pairs or groups. Just as molecules form bonds – some of which are more stable than others – so do human beings. Pairs are the simplest and most stable bond in chemistry and in life. Humans form “pairs” in love and marriage and as friends. Adding a third person to a pair often complicates matters, and some “trios” can be explosive. Members of successful trios have different skills and balance each other.

Experts debate the optimal size of teams larger than three. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar found that a team of five to nine (“7±2”) sits at the upper limit of the number of people with whom someone is truly close, like family. A team of 11 to 18 people (“15±3”) is at the top limit of people someone can truly trust. Dunbar found that 150 people – “the Dunbar number” – is the maximum effective number of people with whom any person can share a personal, social relationship. “The 150 team is the most famous Dunbar number – and as such, it may be the most stable human grouping.” Another common “magic number...

About the Authors

Forbes magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard is an entrepreneur, journalist and speaker. Michael S. Malone is a journalist, technology writer and entrepreneur.

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