Award-winning sportswriter Joan Ryan whisks readers from the sports field to the research lab on an ambitious quest to understand the seemingly indefinable phenomenon called team chemistry.
Nearly ten years in the making, Intangibles is packed with stories and characters from the usually hidden subculture of locker rooms worldwide, and threaded with fascinating insights about the human mind and human relationships. Ryan pulls from a range of science disciplines – neuroscience, sociology, psychology and more – to debunk the notion that team chemistry is just a throwaway explanation for every fun-loving, underdog team that wins. Instead, she makes the case that team chemistry is a biological construct with a single function: to elevate performance.
Ryan introduces us to the seven archetype characters who seem to emerge on almost every team with good chemistry, and two outlier archetypes she describes as ‘Super-Carriers’ and ‘Super-Disruptors’ of chemistry. Along the way, the author finds herself having to challenge her assumptions about situations and people, leading, for example, to the surprising discovery that difficult star players are not the Super-Disruptors one often imagines they are. She finds, too, that dysfunctional, contentious teams that still manage to win do have team chemistry, just a different variety.
A ground-breaking examination that promises to transform how sports and business leaders think about high performance, Intangibles finally proves how all of us affect one another, profoundly influencing who we are and how we function within our own teams of colleagues, friends and family.