Effectiveness of Team Performance: Developing a virtual agent diagnosis and coaching tool

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About Effectiveness of Team Performance: Developing a virtual agent diagnosis and coaching tool

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|free text=}} Background

The importance of work teams appears to be gaining in strength as jobs get bigger, organizational structures get more complex, and more and more companies become multi-national in scope. In today’s corporate environment, it appears the team – not the individual – holds the key to business success.

Native American Chief Tecumseh once declared: “a single twig breaks, but a bundle of twigs is strong.” Successful teams become stronger when members learn to work together. They have clear, acceptable goals. The members trust and respect one another. They communicate often and openly. Members have talent for creating and implementing ideas. The leader “fits” the needs of the team. And the support and resources from the wider organization and community are provided. Teams have the potential to be one of the most powerful drivers of success in an organization today. However, highly performing teams don’t simply happen. They take time to evolve and mature. They take proper leadership.

Different Team models

In an attempt to understand how teams work, a number of authors have proposed models of team performance. Each of these models presents several variables that the author(s) posit influence the effectiveness of teams. Some of the models highlight group structure and interpersonal dynamics, while others tend to focus on the talent and motivation of individual team members. Still others emphasize factors external to the team itself (e.g., a company’s culture). Some models were proposed more than three decades ago; some were developed within the past few years. The most striking observation is the amount of similarity across all the models.

One of the most interesting models of team effectiveness was developed by Patrick Lencioni. According to him, all teams have the potential to be dysfunctional. To improve the functioning of a team, it is critical to understand the type and level of dysfunction. A pyramid is used to demonstrate the hierarchical progression of team development. Teams willing to address the five dysfunctions can experience benefits.

Other interesting Models and/ or assessment tools related to individual (Leadership) and team effectiveness are: Belbin Team Role Management and Tuckman Team development model, among others.

Aim of the project

Develop a (prototype of a) (semi-)automated tool that provides the framework by which to analyze the effectiveness of a team. The assessment tool should make use of an intelligent virtual agent that enables us to systematically collect the perceptions of team members as well as obtain the views of relevant others through human-agent interaction (e.g., dialogues). Ideally the tool is able to combine the input of individual team members in order to give a ‘team health status’ (Diagnosis). Next to that it could give suggestions and challenges how the team effectiveness can be improved; both on individual and team level (Action). The simple and minimal solution would be that the virtual agent asks questions that the team members answer on an individual basis (instead of filling out a questionnaire, which is the traditional assessment method). The project can build upon earlier research and existing models and questionnaires in this area (also see above).

Organizational Issues

- The Master project is expected to last about 6 months.

- As part of the project, an internship at TWST may be included.

- As part of the project, a placement or internship allowance may be included; the level of the allowance can be agreed upon and is also depending on the result (e.g. a prototype or an operational virtual agent tool.

- For more information, please contact Tibor Bosse (t.bosse@vu.nl) or Robert Oskam (Robert@twst.nl)