So, there is a another experiment that is taking part in my life right now. It’s not one that I have a whole lot of control over though. At my place of employment, there are some very different points of view on how a company, or in this case a division within a company should be managed.
Some very interesting studies have come out recently concerning the knowledge that can be derived from a group of independent people as compared to having a concentrated group of experts. Some of these studies have shown rather amazing results that at first glance are very counterintuitive.
1)That the makeup of the group of individuals is not entirely related to the results.
2)That the more diverse the makeup of the group the better the results.
3)That a group of “experts” performs worse than a diverse group.
To try and put these ideas into a usable format, the division that I belong to is attempting an experiment where product development is entirely decentralized. Everyone has a voice into what the product should look like, what features should be included, what the focus should be. The products have been broken down into subareas. Then there are groups that will discuss these areas. These groups will create product specs. Finally all of the resulting product specs will be merged into a complete product vision at the end.
I have some concerns about this process. The studies that this is being modeled off of uses very large groups, so is it applicable with a small group (ie. less < 20 people)? Will there be issues with having a cohesive vision at the end? Will chaos reign?
My own personal bias is that there needs to be a strong manager. Someone to make the final call on decisions and care for the cohesiveness of the vision. Can a small group of peers create a better product without this figure?
I'll be sure to continue posting with updates of this experiment.