Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sum Of Parts

Ten Thousand Cents is a fine example of the productivity of crowd sourced projects that does not require participants to be aware of what everyone else is doing or what the overall objective of the project is. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task.

While that premise makes for interesting artwork, you wonder why the same principles when transferred to a real workplace makes for dysfunctional, chaotic organization. All too frequently, ten different teams end up working on the same problem approaching it like so many blind men might an elephant.

There is no communication inside or across team. Each one solves for what it takes the elephant to mean. They work in isolation and without knowledge of the overall task. In the end, an assortment of unrelated stuff gets created instead of a whole elephant - or in this case a reasonable replica of a hundred dollar bill.

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