More and more often, companies are making changes to their structure and the layout of their office. In doing so, they hope that motivation and creative ideas will flourish. Professor Nicola Breugst from Munich studies how young teams make decisions and realized that it all comes down to the right blend of freedom and ground rules.
Learning from start-ups means learning to win, or at least that’s what they say in most German companies. Driven by digitization and the pressure to keep innovating at an increasingly fast pace, more and more decision-makers look towards young companies and find inspiration in concepts like individual project teams, fast decision-making methods and agile processes. The economic psychologist is a professor of entrepreneurial behavior at the Technical University of Munich.
Her focus is on the “people side of entrepreneurship” – in other words, the question as to why people make the business decisions they do and how they work in effective young teams. And this, according to Dr. Nicola Breugst, is the point where caution is advised. The economic psychologist is a professor of entrepreneurial behavior at the Technical University of Munich. Her focus is on the “people side of entrepreneurship” – in other words, the question as to why people make the business decisions they do and how they work in effective young teams. Breugst knows that many traditional companies have aspirations, so they make changes: suddenly individual offices give way to open-plan workspaces. Suddenly, sticky notes can – and even should – be put all over the walls to mark progress in various projects.
We would have expected more rational dominance, and it really surprised us that so much weight was given of the emotional aspect of things.prof. dr. nicola breugst, Munich professor
Joining forces for a good cause
To figure out the widely-cited success factors that make or break start-ups, Breugst examines exactly how decisions are made in these companies. In a sophisticated video analysis, she and her team study how 20 young teams of entrepreneurs make decisions second by second, observing everything from their body language to their choice of words. Over and over again, the members of the team collectively emphasized the points they had in common, showed empathy for other people‘s positions, and attempted to take others’ feelings into account.
Breugst came to realize that this constructive approach was successful because the team was highly invested in making a good decision together. By contrast, at corporations an inherent problem remains even after the office space has been reconfigured: the previously established hierarchies still make their way into the new agile project teams. Employees who have been re-assigned to something new often lack the intrinsic motivation to do work harder at their newly designed workspace.
They go at things with rose-colored glasses and
don‘t even think about setting rules for themselves.