Sociometric Feedback and Global Collaboration

by Steve Todd

In a previous post I highlighted how sociometric badges can be worn by group collaborators. These badges were tested by Taemie Kim of MIT as part of her PhD research. Her thesis was that feedback from sociometric badges could be used to improve group performance on a given task.

The badges measure a variety of individual metrics, including:

  • Body movements
  • Speech features
  • Whether or not wearers are facing each other
  • How close wearers are to each other
  • Interaction patterns
  • Etc.

The goal of the research is to take this data and somehow reflect it back to the team in a way that influences the overall group effectiveness. Two different approaches were tried:

Individual Feedback

This approach visually displays a collaborator’s participation in comparison to the sociometric feedback of everybody else in the group.

Sociometric Feedback and Global Collaboration

These diagrams are visual representations of the sociometric badges. They communicate (to an individual) the speaking time (size of the circle), interactivity (color of the circle), and how well everybody is taking turns (location of the circle).  This visual feedback is immediate and lets the individual know detailed information about their level of participation.

Group Feedback

This approach visually displays feedback at the group level:

Steve Todd Sociometric Group

In the example above, the location of the circle shows how balanced the participation is between groups, while the color of the circle measures group interactivity.

What are the results of the study? The feedback was shown to increase group performance of remotely-distributed teams.  I’ll describe the specifics of this phenomena in a future post.


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Steve ToddSteve Todd is an EMC Intrapreneur (over 170 patent applications) and author of the book Innovate With Global Influence. As the Global Director of EMC’s Innovation Network, he writes about innovation on his Information Playground blog.

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