Learning for Success: How Team Learning Behaviors Can Help Project Teams to Increase the Performance of their Projects

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In Learning For Success, authors Peter Storm, Chantal Savelsbergh and Ben Kuipers contend that most projects have two different but complementary aims: to perform and to learn. Learning helps the performance of the current project and of future projects. It works in the reverse also: good performance stimulates the desire to become even better, which leads to discovering how to do it. In other words, good performance drives the desire to learn.

How well do these principles bear out in practice? This book, subtitled How Team Learning Behaviors Can Help Project Teams to Increase the Performance of Their Projects, presents research on whether team performance and team learning are positively related. Simple laboratory experiments have shown this to be the case, but the authors test to see whether or not the same holds true on real-world projects, which are more complex, longer and more difficult.

The authors also studied how work-related (or role) stress affects team learning and performance. In particular:

  • Does role stress from ambiguity, conflicting demands and overload only affect individuals, or does it also affect teams?
  • Which team characteristics correlate with team-level role stress and team performance?
  • How does role stress affect performance, for individuals and for teams?
  • Do team learning behaviors help teams cope with team role stress, and help individuals cope with individual role stress?
  • If so, can project managers stimulate team learning behaviors through leadership behavior?

A survey of 40 teams, their project managers and their sponsors showed, not surprisingly, that role stress hurts team performance, but it also showed that role stress hurts team learning, and team learning does in fact help team performance.

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