6 Team Conditions

The 6 Conditions for Team Effectiveness framework comes from decades of research and is the best validated model for predicting performance in real world teams. The framework identifies the 6 Conditions that can be deliberately designed into a team and that together create an environment where great teamwork will emerge. In our research, the 6 Conditions account for up to 80% of a team’s effectiveness.

The 3 Essentials

The Essentials are the fundamental building blocks of great teams.
Right People

A team with the right people has the range of perspectives needed to do the work, and the skills--including teamwork skills--to bring those perspectives to the work.

Real Team

To have a great team, first and foremost you have to create a real team: one that is bounded so that members know who is on the team (and who is not), they need to work together to accomplish their work, and they are stable in membership long enough to accomplish something meaningful together.

Compelling Purpose

Teams need a purpose that engages their commitment and orients them in a shared direction.

The 3 Enablers

The Enablers accelerate a team’s development into a brilliant collaboration.
Sound Structure

Every team benefits from a few elements of healthy structure: keeping the team small enough, tackling tasks together that make sense to be done as a team, and identifying a handful of explicit norms about what they should and should not do when they work together.

Team Coaching

Well-designed teams benefit from an expert coach who can help the team make excellent use of its resources.

Supportive Context

Every team operates in a larger context, and the structures and systems in that context (such as rewards and information) can either promote great teamwork, or create obstacles to excellent collaboration.

The Research

The 6 Conditions for Team Effectiveness Framework comes from decades of research by leading teams scholars at Harvard University. Richard Hackman, Ruth Wageman, and their students and colleagues have studied thousands of teams around the world, in a wide range of industries, sectors, and cultural contexts. Their work identified 6 Conditions that are all actionable, designable elements of teams and together they foster great teamwork and significant accomplishment over time. The research about these 6 fundamental conditions has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and books. (See Publications)


  • Wageman et al.’s (2008) study of 127 senior leadership teams from around the world showed that less than 25% were outstanding teams (“Senior Leadership Teams: What it Takes to Make them Great”). Those that were outstanding scored radically better on the 6 Conditions, and together the 6 Conditions predicted 60% of the variation in team effectiveness.
  • Hackman’s (2011) study of teams in the US intelligence community showed that Real Teams that were well designed and whose work was interdependent developed a self-managing approach to peer coaching; the 6 Conditions accounted for 74% of the variance in intelligence team effectiveness.
  • Wageman’s (2001) study of customer service teams showed that the last of the 6 Conditions (Team Coaching) only made a difference to team effectiveness when the team’s were well designed on the other 5 Conditions. In other words, only Real Teams that already had a Compelling Purpose, Right People, Sound Structure and a Supportive Context could take advantage of excellent Team Coaching around their work processes; when they were well-designed, Team Coaching made a significant positive difference in their performance and self-management over time.

The 6 Conditions framework has informed a wide range of team studies: Change leadership teams (Higgins et al., 2011), healthcare teams (Edmondson, 1999); engineering and design teams (Kim & McNair, 2010); knowledge work teams (Haas, 2010) and many more.

Learn how the Team Diagnostic Survey (TDS) measures the 6 Team Conditions