The most disappointing impact of recycled misinformation at conferences and on the Web is that evidence-based information is routinely crowded out. As stated already, but worth repeating, scientists have a pretty good grasp of the basics of what makes one team more productive, with less conflict, than another team. Those basics are rarely discussed in business forums, however, and less rarely applied, in part because they are much harder to do than typical teambuilding exercises. It can be fun to develop a team charter, but it’s not as fun as an outdoor ropes course. It also takes longer; it’s work. Unlike that ropes course, though, it will actually change the team over the long term. Behaviors that have developed into habits over months or years cannot be wiped out with a day of play.
This section has topics looking critically at teambuilding as an industry. It starts with a comprehensive history of teambuilding and reviews by leading teamwork scientists. These provide the scientific evidence that raises questions about the industry’s current state. Part of the problem is the poor definitions of the words “team” and “teambuilding,” as several articles explore. Next, under “What We Really Know about Teamwork,” we start to explore what techniques really work, in general and in some specific areas like Agile project management and virtual teams.