Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Scaling: How about the “Don’t do it!” option?

There is a lot of talk lately about scaling. And, to some degree, scaling is necessary and good.

They say that only truly professional Teams try complicated plays.  Or should try complicated plays.  Most ‘lesser’ Teams do well to stick to basic blocking and tackling.  I think this is wise advice for most teams.

Scaling by its nature is complicated. It is attempting the impossible. To keep a large ‘blob’ of people fully informed about what each other is doing.  No, not 100% informed about every detail, of course, but ‘fully.’  Meaning: I, as a member of the blob, know everything I need to know to be effective (and to not be counter-productive) about anything that anyone else in the blob is doing.

Impossible.  Human communication is very difficult in a Team of 7. Just about impossible in a blob. Unless it is extremely slow moving. Which of course is what blobs naturally do.

So, how about this?  Instead of 50 people in 7 teams, let’s take the ‘best people’ from that blob, and make one Super Team.  The hard part is finding ‘super’ team players.  Or maybe better to say: The hard part is appreciating the value of being a team player over having a so-called ‘extraordinary skill-set’ (usually a specific skill or knowledge domain in our business).  We all have seen that a bunch of high-ego people often won’t work together well.

Still, form your Super Team.

Maybe the other people can be useful, but the first rule is ‘do no harm.’  Get them the heck out of the way!!  And let the Super Team run.

Can these other people doing anything?  Well, yes: mow the grass.  Honestly….they can do some ‘spade work’ that never gets in the way of the Super Team.  They can do things that enable the Super Team to go faster. They can prepare things. But the key thing is to optimize the speed of the Super Team. (Ceteris Paribus.)

It’s an alternate idea.  From a business point of view, often faster, cheaper and higher quality.  And higher innovation.

Will this approach work well every time?  Is it the best option available?  Not sure; probably not.  But often it is the best option available.

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