Super-Chickens: Things Teams Can Learn From Them


In theory, teamwork is an excellent way to connect people with different skills for the best result. But in reality, we often experience dysfunctional teams which fail to collaborate. Companies often find it hard to understand why the teamwork has failed. Evolutionary biologist William Muir at Purdue University in Indiana, USA, has dealt with this very problem. To get to the bottom of this problem, he conducted the following experiment – with chickens. Sounds crazy? Just wait and see!

The Experiment
Chickens are particularly well qualified for this experiment because their productivity can be easily measured by the number of eggs laid. Since chickens naturally live in groups, Professor Muir formed two different groups for the experiment: In the first group, he gathered average chickens and in the second, so-called “super-chickens”. Super-chickens are characterized by the fact that they lay the most eggs. In the group of super-chickens, only the most productive chickens reproduced. There was no special selection among the average chickens. The reproduction took place arbitrarily here. After six generations the following could be observed: The group of the average chickens was healthy and clearly more efficient than the first generation. In the group of the super-chickens however, there were only three survivors.

This phenomenon can be explained quite simply: The higher productivity of the super-chickens was accompanied by the ability to stand up to others. Targeted selection increased aggression and competitive behaviour from generation to generation. Thus, those who are in constant competition, while asserting themselves on an individual level, harm the group as a whole. This experiment makes it clear that a team only functions when people work with each other and not against each other. In a culture of individual peak performance, competition is encouraged and dysfunctional teams are created. Bad cooperation and bad results are therefore not caused by the employees. The reason for this lies in the actual structures in the company.

Focus on collaboration
Companies do not exist to give individuals a stage, but because there are tasks that can only be solved together. Thus, companies are places of cooperation. Cooperation is an interplay of different qualifications, knowledge and experience that complement each other and of different roles that interlock. So the secret is to build a team out of individual employees that complement each other with existing qualifications, knowledge and experience.

Heatmap Team Position Distribution

The values and passions of employees should be used as a foundation for team building, as they are central to intrinsic motivation. They can be determined in only 12 minutes by using the MONDAY.ROCKS App. Based on the results, a suitable position can be found for everyone in the team, which ensures that each individual can work at maximum efficiency. These positions are arranged on the playing field of collaboration, which covers the four central challenges within a team innovation, networking, development and team spirit. This type of team constellation promotes collaboration and prevents competitive battles within the team.

Finally, it can be stated that dysfunctional teams are mainly due to structural problems within a company. The principle of the playing field offers the possibility to break out of these structures. In this way, optimally positioned teams can be created that cover all areas of future challenges and make use of their maximum potential.

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