An experiment in management

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.

A little background

Decided to start up a blog, to see how this new technology trend works. More a matter of how I work with it rather than the trend as a whole. I’ve never kept a journal or done any other type of personal writing in the past, so this will be an interesting experiment.

A bit of a profile:

I’m a software engineer in Silicon Valley. I work for a rather large media company and am lead developer on a site in the digital photography realm. I was recently promoted to engineering manager, but am really still playing the role of tech lead.

Like many other engineers I have interests outside of just computers. As this experiment progresses, I might get into some of them here in the blog. However, I have concerns with how open I can be in this public forum. I’m very aware of the issues with public postings having a knack of sticking around for a very long time. Also, most companies aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of employees posting their thoughts yet either, so in the beginning I’m going to tread lightly.