Top TED Talks for Teams
24th February 2017
Teamwork is crucial to every modern office. The business luminaries behind TED Talks know that better than anyone. That’s why for the third in our TED Talks series, we’ve put together a list of TED Talks that will help any team increase its productivity and work better together.
Build a Tower, Build a Team by Tom Wujec
Designer Tom Wujec discusses what adult teams in the workplace can learn from kindergarteners in the classroom. He looks at the ways different teams went about tackling the “spaghetti challenge”—a task that involves building a large spaghetti-based structure—and concludes that corporate teams often go about things the wrong way.
As Wujec notes, the infant teams were more willing to try out each member’s ideas before settling on a final model, but adult teams are not? He also makes observations about the nature of incentives and the importance of admin executives.
The Emergent Genius of Ant Colonies by Deborah Gordon
Ant colonies have no language, no memory and no apparent leaders. They are also some of the most successful teams on the planet. So how do they do it? Ecologist Deborah Gordon has the answers, and what she has learned is applicable to any team looking for new ways to succeed.
Gordon notices that members of colonies intuitively learn from each other and often switch between tasks, suggesting potential ways for human teams to shake up their formats.
The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
Each member of a team is different. Is there someone on your team who seems less eager to speak up, but no less likely to have good ideas? Is it you? Susan Cain’s inspirational talk about the importance of valuing the introverted in a world that favours extraverts is essential viewing for any well rounded team. The quieter members of your team may well be the most intelligent and innovative—it is important to listen to them.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Achebe
Like Deborah Gordon’s ant talk, this speech on women’s equality may not seem directly relevant to teams on the surface, but as one of the most successful talks to come out of TEDx, it includes lessons that are useful to every company.
As Achebe points out, there are certain gender stereotypes that we unconsciously expect. So many men are heads of companies that their disproportionate representation among CEOs becomes normal when it should be at least curious. Years of hiring women in subordinate positions makes us expect them to make drinks for visitors. Women are interrupted nearly three times more than men on average in team meetings.
If we recognise all of these things and address them, we can truly treat team members equally, and benefit from the best of everyone.