Google Research Affirms Flow

Linus Pauling once stated,

“I have a picture, a sort of general theory of the universe in my mind that I’ve built up over the decades. If I read an article, or hear someone give a seminar talk, or in some other way get some piece of information about science that I hadn’t had before, I ask myself, ‘how does that fit into my picture of the universe?’ And if it doesn’t fit, I ask, ‘why doesn’t it fit in?'”

Source: Page 118, “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

We have found this approach to be true in our own exploration of how to apply and effectively utilize Flow and the Unified Vision Framework. Constantly cross-pollinating ideas and theories from multiple domains and fields has strengthened and deepened our frameworks and tools.

It is particularly interesting when we both independently react to an article in this way. So, thank you Google and Inc. Magazine, for sharing important research that affirms the positive results of Flow properly applied in team situations.

You can read the full (and very interesting) article at the following link where Julia Rozovsky outlines the five key characteristics of Google’s highly successful teams:

The five traits are:

1. Dependability.
“Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.”

2. Structure and clarity.
“High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group.”

3. Meaning.
“The work has personal significance to each member.”

4. Impact.
“The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.”

And the last trait stood out from the rest:

5. Psychological Safety.
“We’ve all been in meetings and, due to the fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas. I get it. It’s unnerving to feel like you’re in an environment where everything you do or say is under a microscope.

But imagine a different setting. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard and become free to deliver remarkable results.

That’s psychological safety.

Yes, we know that this is not the quantitative data for which you were hoping. However, Google found that teams with psychologically safe environments had employees who were less likely to leave, more likely to harness the power of diversity, and ultimately, who were more successful.

Engineering the perfect team is more subjective than we would like, but focusing on these five components increases the likelihood that you will build a dream team. Through its research, Google made the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle proud by proving, “The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.””

The key traits described above are actually talking about the proper application of a culture of Vision. Ultimately, as we discuss in detail in the “Nehemiah Effect” and our new book “Flow”… “Culture eats everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

In Flow, we define “Culture” as:  Vision, Mission, Purpose, Core Values & Attitudes; and, Goals & Objectives.

So, once a clear Definition of a psychologically safe culture of Vision has been stated, agreed to and exhibited by the executive and team leaders, then the resulting high-performance, demonstrated by the Google teams, is a natural outcome.

Let’s look at Google’s five traits through the lens of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework:

In order to Deliver high-performance (1. Dependability), teams need to have a strong culture of Vision (3. Meaning, 4. Impact and 5. Psychological Safety) combined with clear Definitions and Distilled agreements (2. Structure and clarity). High performing teams also maintain a focus on the most important, highest priority items by continuously reminding each other what success looks like and iteratively adjusting activities to ultimately Drive that success (2. Structure and clarity).

For a more complete discussion about the impact of Vision, see our previous blog post:


For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of performance as an individual and in every area of your life.

Flow turbocharges your “business agile” leadership.

Our new book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it” is scheduled for release in 2018:

  • eBook in January

  • Paperback in April (pre-orders will begin in March)


Andrew Kallman, FCP, FCT and Ted Kallman, FCP, FCT are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” is a #1 National Best Seller on in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014 (i.e. #1 in the following 4 sub-categories:  1. Decision-making, 2. Business, 3. Consulting and 4. Project Management):

The Nehemiah Effect: Ancient Wisdom from the World’s First Agile Projects


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