In a previous post I introduced a PhD dissertation by MIT’s Taemie Kim: Enhancing Distributed Collaboration Using Sociometric Feedback. This announcement for the dissertation summarized the topic quite well:
Results show that sociometric feedback influences the communication patterns of distributed groups to be more like that of co-located groups, which results in an increase in performance.
The MIT Media Lab is quite famous for creating gadgets and sensors that measure all sorts of biometric data. In the case of this research, the team created sociometric badges, a “wearable sensor that detects communication patterns of multiple wearers”:
These badges are able to take many different kinds of measurements, including:
- Body movements
- Speech features
- Whether or not wearers are facing each other
- How close wearers are to each other
- Interaction patterns
The research tested sociometric badges as a potential method for capturing this type of data during team working sessions. In some cases the teams were co-located, and in others they were distributed. The badges emit sensor data that can be graphed and analyzed. Shown below are two such graphs, one that measures the speech energy (think enthusiasm, for example), and one that tracks personal movement.
As each team worked on their different tasks, the sociometric badges churned away and created data.
What would happen if distributed team members received immediate feedback on the data? Would it effect team performance?
The answer to this question is the heart of the research. I’ll step through the results in a future post.
Steve Todd is a high-tech inventor and author of the book “Innovate With Global Influence“. An EMC Intrapreneur with over 150 patent applications and billions in product revenue, he writes about innovation on his personal blog, the Information Playground.