The British startup claims it can predict the performance of your office team based on how well you get along, using an algorithm informed by online dating.We spoke to its founder, Alistair Shepherd, who uses the software to make all his hires – and even spot which startups are about to fail so he can poach their staff, which is how the company picked up its current CTO.Our software forecasts how teams and individuals will perform based upon their ability to interact with each other.
But when you work with people who frustrate you and who you don’t particularly respect, it’s much harder to feel motivated at work.
Personality tests, such as Myers- Briggs, are very interesting, but not particularly useful. We look at what really drives a person from a very data-driven perspective.
We did a lot of our early research from online dating.
What we’re looking at is what makes people click, what makes people like each other? The things that make a good long-term romantic relationship are also the things that make a good long-term friendship, or a good long-term professional relationship – you’re able to respect each other under varying degrees of stress over a long period of time.
The way we [test] it with current clients is, if they’re a big company with hundreds of employees, we can go in and look at teams that they’ve had operating for the past couple of years, where they’ve got performance or outcome data.
We’ll run our analysis and compare which teams we think should have had the highest performance over the past couple of years with the actual outcome data. It’s surprising because we don’t look at people’s skills; we don’t look at their experience; we don’t look at their demographics – all things you consider when you’re interviewing somebody. It’s surprising how predictive that is when it comes to forecasting performance. It would be poor practice for an employer to force somebody to do this if they didn’t want to.
But we try to make it clear that this is for the benefit of the employee, so we get far fewer refusals than I would expect.
There’s a big danger that, when you’re developing a system such as this, you end up being seen as Big Brother and that it’s just another tool to put you in a box.
We looked for patterns in the data from online dating to see if that could help us when we were developing our early algorithms.