"Let them figure it out" is the mantra for small team management at its best. I'm constantly amazed at how fast and successfully small teams converge to a local optimization, finding a methodology for doing whatever they are doing that maximizes their interests.
In several recent situations I was an observer and a participant as 20 or teams of anywhere from 2 to 6 people were given the same task, given the same instructions, given the same resources, and had the same strategic goal.
There were about a half dozen unique methods that were synthesized in real time, tested, and the most advantageous selected. What I noticed were several dynamics working nearly simultaneously:
- Self organization: who is going to do what -- mostly, a volunteer thing as to who does what, though informed by task, skill, and capability of the team members
- Convergence: fail quick, fix, and retry til it's working well. You can feel it when the non-value add stuff dissipates and it's all about value-add
- Local interests: Local interests are both personal and team oriented. Each person tends to maximize their own interests to the extent that they fit in the overall team envelop; and the team optimizes to max out their contribution to the strategic goal
This stuff actually works! But, did I mention virtual teams? Virtual teams have less bandwidth and so their velocity is correspondingly less. Convergence times are greater, etc. But, the principles apply
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