Sensible Organizations: Tech and Methodology for Auto Measuring Behavior

Daniel Olguín Olguín, Benjamin N. Waber, Taemie Kim, Akshay Mohan, Koji Ara, and Alex (Sandy) Pentland

To appear in IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics-Part B: Cybernetics, Vol. 39. No. 1, February 2009


Sensible Organizations: Technology and Methodology for Automatically Measuring Organizational Behavior

In 2009, Daniel Olguín Olguín, Benjamin N. Waber, Taemie Kim, Akshay Mohan, Koji Ara, and Alex (Sandy) Pentland designed a wearable electronic badge to measure face-to-face communication. These badges measure the amount of time spent conversing, the physical distance between individuals, and the activity levels of the wearer. The goal of these badges is to understand communication patterns of teams and organizations. When used over extended periods of time, organizations can quantify social interactions and team behavior.

These wearables were tested in a corporate setting with a group of 22 employees over one month. This data was combined with e-mail data and employee surveys. As a result of this test, the researchers were able to predict the answers of employees’ self-assessments, specifically questions about job satisfaction and their perceptions of their team. They uncovered a pattern: there was a high negative correlation between physical proximity and e-mail communication [r = −0.55 (p < 0.01)].