Berkeley Lab

Psychological Safety & Building Effective Teams – June 4, 2019

What makes the most effective team? In 2012, Google embarked on a study to find the answer. Project Aristotle studied the dynamics of various groups to discover what is essential to a team’s productivity and success. Matt Sakaguchi, a site reliability engineer at Google, will talk about the company’s research and practical tips around building high-performing teams, including the importance of psychological safety in the workplace. Matt will not only address the research and key learnings from Google’s pilot program, but will also share his insights as a manager who worked with his own team and other employees to understand and instill the findings and principles in the real world. Michelle Elrod, Director of Employee Organizational Development and Advancement at Cal Polytechnic University Pomona, has applied Google’s research and implemented the principles for building high-performing teams in an academic setting. She works on increasing collaboration efforts across the campus at Cal Poly Pomona, and previously, at the University of California (UC), Riverside. Michelle will share her experiences with implementing these concepts, and what each individual can do to build a collaborative and safe environment where all ideas are shared and heard.

Date: June 4
Time: 12 – 1:15 pm
Location: Building 50 Auditorium

Event Flyer
Event photos


The Quest to Build the Most Effective Teams at Google – Matt Sakaguchi
Psychological Safety & Collaborative Leadership – Igniting Collaborative Innovation – Michelle Elrod
re:Work is a collection of practices, research, and ideas from Google and others to help you put people first
New York Times: What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
Building a psychologically safe workplace – Amy Edmondson – TEDxHGSE
Berkeley Lab Resources


Michelle Elrod
Employee Organizational Development & Advancement
Cal Polytechnic University Pomona

Michelle has more than thirteen years of professional development experience focused on leadership development, consulting, training, coaching, cultural transformation. She has experience developing teams in the public and private education sectors (Apollo Education Group, University of Phoenix, the UC System, and Cal Poly Pomona). She has designed & facilitated the Collaborative Leadership & Psychological Safety course at the UC People Management Conference, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, as well as at the 2018 WACUBO, & CHEC conferences. Michelle used Collaborative Leadership as the foundational course in a multi-tier certificate series at UC Riverside designed to promote and socialize collaboration, and psychological safety at UC Riverside. She also developed a Facilitator Certification Program which gives individual contributors an opportunity to develop facilitation skills, and present the collaborative leadership/psychological safety content to campus staff, students, and faculty. In addition, she implemented the UC wide Management Development Program at UC Riverside and designed the UC Riverside People Management Certificate.  Currently, Michelle is responsible for the development, delivery, and launch of professional development from the ground up at CPP.

Matt Sakaguchi
Site Reliability Manager

Matt leads two teams in Site Reliability Engineering, supporting the Android phone ecosystem and the Google Play store. At Google, Matt is a leading ambassador for gTeams, the research Google’s People Analytics did on what makes an effective team. He consults and conducts sessions with numerous teams at Google, to enhance their performance, accelerate, and get them unstuck. He also teaches several classes at Google, including Diversity and Inclusion, Bias Busting, Fundamentals of Teamwork, Presentation skills, and Coaching Conversations. He trains incoming managers, and mentors Googlers in 1:1 sessions. He also serves as a performance coach for presenters at major conferences such as Google I/O, and NEXT (Cloud).