E pluribus unum

A bit of Reithian fun today. I stumbled across this fantastic interactive presentation on The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds.

It takes a bit of time to work through it, but there are puzzles.

This really got me thinking about the nature of team collaboration and the spread of ideas, memes and dogma across teams.

You want enough connections between teams and individuals to allow ideas to spread, but not so many that you end up with groupthink, where teams are so connected that they are resistant to new ideas.

In other words, unity without uniformity and diversity without division.

This demonstrates the importance of hiring for diversity of backgrounds and ideas in your team, but with the aim of fostering unity and the natural spread of ideas.

In the world of product development, this tells us a lot about how and why different teams in the same organisation can form such different attitudes about technologies and approaches.

I’d be concerned if a team had uniform attitudes with very few differences of opinion. But I’d also worry if there was no consensus or alignment at all.

Similarly, if teams are forming their attitudes in isolation without any bridges to other teams, that’s also a concern.

To quote:

A healthy society needs a sweet spot of bonds within groups and bridges between groups.

How healthy is your organisation when you think about it like this?

All the best,

– Jim

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