Importance of data representations

Observational analyses of teamwork have been foundational in developing our understanding of teams by detailing what a person is doing and how they are doing it (Entin & Sefaty, 1999; Salas, Stagl & Burke, 2004; Cooke, Gorman & Kiekel, 2008). With the exceptions of acute events and obvious errors, observational measures tend to summarize facets of performance over time and to collapse them into aggregated values aligned with vetted frameworks like TeamSTEPPSĀ® (Baker, Amodeo, Krokos et al, 2009). In doing so the micro-dynamics of the team and each team member recede into the background with increased aggregation and content specificity.


An important component of observation is the team speech which provides a refined perspective of what a person means. More importantly, advances in speech modeling also provides a team cognition perspective of how the team is interacting and thinking as a whole (Cooke, Gorman & Kiekel, 2014; Grimm, Gorman, Stevens, Galloway, Willemsen-Dunlap, Halpin, D, 2017). The bandwidth of speech however, is very limited. The information that is selected for attention, kept in working memory, and channeled out for reporting is only a partial read-out of the causal information being processed by the brain. Only a small fraction of consciousness thought emerges as speech after having undergone a complex process of construction and filtration (Tononi, Boly, Massimini & Koch, 2016). Furthermore, teams under stress might be silent (Gardezi, Lingard, Espin, Whyte, Orser, et al., 2009).


Models of the neural activities of teams help avoid some of the limitations of observation and speech. The uniqueness of patient encounters described above might only be apparent and confined to the macro (observable) levels of teamwork. Closer inspection of individual and team performance, three to five orders of magnitude  closer, (in the range of 50 ms to 200 ms), would show that the team member responses to the evolving task are more similar. At these micro scales there are predictable neurophysiological activities when a word is spoken, (Draschkow, Heikel, Vo, Fiebach & Sassenhagen, 2018) when a gesture is made (Tognoli & Kelso, 2015; Schippers, Roebroeck, Renken, Nanetti, Keysers, 2010; Menoret et al, 2014), when attention is captured, when memories are recalled (Vergauwe & Cowan, 2014) and when the environment is scanned. But as these neurodynamic markers become integrated over time into teamwork these distinctions become lost. These particular and very rapid responses must therefore be represented and modeled in ways that relate to what we consider as macro aspects of teamwork for practical uses, yet help to explain micro-levels of teamwork for theory building (Figure Above).

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