In settings ranging from business, sports, medicine, and the military, working in teams allows people to accomplish tasks that no individual could accomplish working alone. By its very nature, much of teamwork is distributed across, and not necessarily stored within, interdependent people working toward a common goal. In this light, I advocate a systems perspective on teamwork that is based on general coordination principles that are not limited to cognitive, motor, and physiological levels of explanation within the individual. The dynamical systems approach is based on general coordinative principles such as synchronization, long-memory, and attractors and stability that motivate new ways of conceptualizing and assessing human performance. In this talk, I will review some empirical findings on teams as dynamical systems and describe how they coalesce into a theory of team performance that has practical implications. Throughout the presentation, I will provide examples of how we characterize teamwork with fundamental equations and/or modeling techniques that capture the dynamics and what this means for teamwork. By emphasizing dynamics, process, and the interrelatedness of the systems in which team members operate, a dynamical approach contributes to a fuller understanding of human performance.
Jamie Gorman received his PhD in Psychology from New Mexico State University and is an associate professor in Engineering Psychology at Georgia Tech. His research focuses on how human performance is constrained by working with other people and in complex settings. In particular, he focuses on team dynamics that occur in many settings—medicine, sports, military—that permeate a variety of human tasks. Research in his lab seeks to understand and enhance human performance using a variety of methodological approaches, including communication analysis, kinematics, physiological, and neural approaches. He has over 30 refereed articles and book chapters and is most well-known for his applications of dynamical systems theory to the problem of team coordination. His research has been funded by ONR, NSF, and DARPA. He is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), serves on the editorial board of the journal Human Factors, and serves on the HFES Human Factors Prize panel. In 2011 he and his coauthors received the Jerome H. Ely award from HFES for the best paper published in the 2010 volume of Human Factors.