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Question:
Discuss about the Google Case Study.

 
Answer:
Introduction

The case study is from technological sector. This sector is highly competitive sector in which leaders and managers have to manage the conflict among various stakeholders. The case study is about Google Inc.

Background

The case study is about the Aristotle project of Google Inc. Three key stakeholders as per the case study are Julia, Matt and Google Inc. (or project Aristotle). The company launched this project in the year 2012. This project was launched to assess the team dynamics among the various teams at Google Inc. Julia was the part of this project. The common observation of the project was that the project where team members used to interact outside the office hours was more productive as compared to the project where the team members were strangers. Julia was a lead researcher in this project. She wanted to know the norms and attributes that mattered most for team dynamics. The case study describes two types of teams. The first type is team A where all the members are professionals. The second type is team B where informal relationship is high among the team members. For Project Aristotle, the research pointed to particular norms that are vital to success. Julia and her colleagues had figured out which norms were most critical. One of the employees of Google, Matt was intrigued by the findings of Julia. Matt has an unusual background while joining Google Inc. Recently he started a new project in the company and he wanted to ensure that the team norms are effective in the organization. He approached Julia and Project Aristotle for help. Julia did an initial survey and determined that the team dynamics was not good and people were happy only at an outer level. Matt was not happy with the survey of the result as he always felt that the team is a closed group where all the employees support each other.

 
Issues and Problems

 The two major issues as inferred from the case study can be discussed as:

Issue 1: Negative Team Dynamics in Matt’s Team

The biggest problem for Matt was that his team was not a closed group. The team members liked Matt. However, the culture of the team was not good and it reduced the overall effectiveness of the group. The survey revealed that the team members agreed that there were weaknesses in the team and group dynamics was weak in the team as people provided poor score when asked about the team dynamics. Po & Lirong (2014) argued that negative team dynamics is like rust that can make the entire organization or team ineffective.

Issue 2: Communication Barriers in the Leadership Style of Matt

It appears that Matt was a good person. However, he may not be a good leader. The communication or the interaction among the team members was not good. Moreover, Matt had a wrong perception of his team. He was able to identify the problem only with the help of survey. Therefore, it can be said that Matt lacked the leadership attribute of vision that the leaders must have. It can be said that Matt was not able to satisfy the interests of all the stakeholders in the organization. Torrente & Salanova (2012) highlighted that the lack of communication in the team can reduce the productive levels of team members.

 
Possible Solutions

The key solutions for the above-identified issue can be discussed as:

Issue 1: Negative team dynamics in Matt’s team

Proposed Solution 1: Frequent communication & Democratic leadership

The problem of negative dynamics could be resolved with frequent communication. It is important that Matt should focus on establishing the informal communication channels along with the formal communication channels. The informal communication channels would enable the team members to understand other team members (Liu & Cross, 2016). It would reduce the negativity in the team and all the team members would gel well and ultimately it would set the platform of positive team dynamics for Matt.

Collins & Gibson (2016) argued that democratic style of leadership would work well when the employees or the team members realize their duty and roles and responsibilities. It is important that Matt should have a good rapport with all the team members so that all the team members in the team can work without any handholding. This alternative suggests that the Matt should give more rights to the team members. This type of style allows for more individuals to participate in the decision-making, and offer more autonomy for employees as results in a higher level of employee engagement and higher morale. The role of democratic leadership style would be to overcome the individual beliefs and perception of the people that act as the barriers to positive tam dynamics. It is important that the decision should be made collectively in the team. The inputs of different team members should be values and Matt should motivate the team members to bring their points forward. This would be the basis of the good team dynamics in the team.

Advantages:

The democratic leadership style from Matt would make team members motivated as they would realize that their inputs are being values.

The frequent communication through informal channels would create good cohesion among the team members

 
Disadvantages

The excess of informal communication in the team members can reduce the productivity level of team

Issue 2: Communication barriers in the leadership style of Matt

Proposed Solution 2: Organizational design to establish team norms and healthy team dynamics

Matt should have a lean or flat team where the team members can cut the red tape and interact with other team members freely. This organization design would be the Organic Organizations that are flatter and more flexible than mechanistic organizations with this type of organization structure it is more designed for the younger generation as their work environment is more relaxed yet more productive. Organic structures are effective in organizations that rely on learning, innovation, and flexibility. Diversification and evolving the organizational structure over time is a very important aspect in creating a strong organizational structure.  As firms age, they often expand their business scope (Gallagher, 2013). It is important to mention that eventually, Matt would have to adhere to the structure of Google only.

Dolata & Schwabe (2014) argued that it is important that the structure of team should focus on established group norms in the team. Matt should realize that the team should have common norms so that the work could be productive in nature. The effectiveness of the entire team can suffer if the team, as a whole, does not have a common norms and practices (Naseri & Gilbert, 2014). Typically, the leaders would have a main role to play to establish the common norms in the team. In fact, it is a good practice the norms should be established in top-down manner. The team norms would act as the guidelines that should be followed by different team members. It would help Matt to generate a common set of objectives for all the team members. The three key team norms that should be part of the organizational design are communication, decision-making and conflict management (Gillespie & Gwinner, 2013). It is expected that the focus on these three norms would improve the team dynamics in the team.

Advantages
  1. The organizational design with the focus on team norms and group dynamics would make Google Inc. more flexible and lean.
  2. With the new organizational design, the team members would be able to establish an open culture in the organization (McEvoy, 2012).
Disadvantages
  1. Google Inc. has an established organizational design and the organization would be required to change its organizational design with this recommendations.
  2. The change management could be difficult as there is always a possibility that some of the employees would not support the change (Slocum, 2015).
 
Conclusion

The above paper discusses two proposed solutions for Matt. The first solution focuses of effective communication and democratic leadership style. The second solution is that Matt and Google Inc. should have the organizational design that supports the team norms and effective team dynamics. This is the way forward for Matt to overcome the existing negative team dynamics and to improve efficiency and labor productivity. The key recommendations for Google Inc. and the strategies that should be used in short term and long term can be discussed as:

Short-Term action
  1. The company should immediately bring the change agents that would work to make flexible teams at Google Inc. with the focus on established team norms and group dynamics.
Medium-Term action
  1. The company should take inputs from employees to make a lean and flexible organizational culture within different teams.
Long-Term Action Plan
  1. In the long term, the management of Google Inc. should analyze various organizational designs that could benefit Google to have highly effective team.

With the entire action plan, Google Inc. would be benefited in long term. The action plan would need some investment in short term. However, the overall productivity of Google Inc. would improve in long term.

 
References

Amin-Naseri, M. and Gilbert, S., 2014. A System Dynamics Approach to Building Team Trust Models: Exploring the Challenges. Pedagogy That Makes A Difference: Exploring Domain-Independent Principles across Instructional Management Research within the ITS Community, p.49.

Buller, P. F. McEvoy, G. (2012). Strategy, human resource management and performance: Sharpening line of sight. Human Resource Management Review. 22 (1), 43-56.

Collins, C.G., Gibson, C.B., Quigley, N.R. and Parker, S.K., 2016. Unpacking team dynamics with growth modeling An approach to test, refine, and integrate theory. Organizational Psychology Review, 6(1), pp.63-91.

Dolata, M. and Schwabe, G., 2014, May. Call for action: designing for harmony in creative teams. In International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems (pp. 273-288). Springer International Publishing.

Gallagher, K. (2013) Skills Development for Business and Management Students: Study and Employability. UK: Oxford University.

Gillespie, B.M., Gwinner, K., Chaboyer, W. and Fairweather, N., 2013. Team communications in surgery–creating a culture of safety. Journal of interprofessional care, 27(5), pp.387-393.

Germain, M. and McGuire, D. (2014) ‘The Role Of Swift Trust in Virtual Teams and Implications for Human Resource Development.’, Advances in Developing Human Resources, 16(3).

Liu, W.H. and Cross, J.A., 2016. A comprehensive model of project team technical performance. International Journal of Project Management, 34(7), pp.1150-1166.

Po, H., Lirong, L. and Wei, H., 2014. Shared Leadership, Vertical Leadership and Team Creativity: A Dual-Perspective Study. Journal of Management, 6, p.005.

Slocum, D. (2015). Seven Tyrannies That Creative Leaders Must Overcome. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/berlinschoolofcreativeleadership/2015/04/01/seven-tyrannies-that-creative-leaders-must-overcome/#33d75dfd1b0b

Torrente, P., Salanova, M., Llorens, S. and Schaufeli, W.B., 2012. Teams make it work: How team work engagement mediates between social resources and performance in teams. Psicothema, 24(1), pp.106-112.

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