Stream of Consciousness
…about ¼ of the mural flow, scribed in real-time…
In preparation for the MLab Management 2.0 conference, Gary Hamel paraphrased a brainstorming interview we did in advance about how large organizations could become more innovative, adaptive and engaging [to clarify, what follows was my input to the brain spa]:
Large group sizes working on any project and/or involved in most important decisions, and all sustaining the same business model (vs. competing to develop alternative concepts).
Work organization patterns that systematically eliminate options more than a standard deviation away from the mean.
Promotion and reward mechanisms that favor convergence to the mean and “playing well with others” over bold moves.
Many (competing) small teams of 3-5, then reorient decision making to support selection of “winning” project ideas.
Four tenets jump to mind if we consider the Wisdom of Crowds as an emergent phenomenon, operating at a higher level of abstraction:
1) team (thinking style) diversity is more important than individual ability
2) disagreement is more important than consensus
3) and the voting policies and selection mechanisms that you put in place are more important than the coherence or even the comprehensibility about what you do.
4) The role of upper management is to tune the parameters of communication
Hire and build organizations to sustain group (hive) learning over individual learning, by consciously assembling teams of MIN 3 and MAX 7 with very diverse approaches. Number of teams you assign depends on the range of probability that you’ll get a very different, compelling answer out of one of them.
Structure the organization for more failure and greater selection of non-normative choices through difference-seeking voting policies and more observation of - and experimentation with - “perturbations” (vs. predictive extrapolation).
DFJ uses voting methods that allow a vocal minority to overrule a wishy-washy majority, if the goal is to advance a very different concept. (“Passion-weighted vote”; “Silver bullets”).
You might improve a corporation’s ability to allocate resources across a more diverse portfolio of ideas if you can put those decisions in the hands of executives not vested in day-to-day execution of the initiatives (as the venture model - or Richard Branson - does).
Firms need to cross the threshold of accepting that they’ll be wrong more than 50% of the time when pursuing disruptive innovation, and therefore need to swing for the fences more often to make up for more losers.