Re: Self-managed Teams LO1325

Michael McMaster (
Sat, 20 May 1995 09:04:03 +0000

Replying to LO1308 --

There's some insight into design principles that I can offer from
explorations at the Santa Fe Institute. Stu Kauffman has been doing
work to discover how to optimise the possibility of solving a problem
by dividing the agents working on it into cells (he calls them
"patches"). If the problem is simple - that is it doesn't require a
great deal of information processing or creative input - then a
relatively centralised system is frequently the best. If the problem
is a difficult one requiring much information processing, creativity,
experimentation, etc. then the agents should be broken into _self
optimising_ teams and left to sort out their own solutions
_independent of concern for the whole.

There are indicators for whether or not the cells or too many or too
few and whether they are individually too big or too small. The
teams will shift in number and size depending on the nature of the
problem. This demands a great deal of flexibility because the
optimum size for a problem will change as work on the problem
progresses (because it will have gotten more complicated or more

I know this isn't the kind of response you asked for. But it may be
useful in analysing what others have done and why it'w worked (or
not). It might also provide all you need to allow those involved to
generate their own solutions. At a minimun, it will offer some tools
for continued adjustment after you start the teams.

Michael McMaster <>