Self-Managing Teams in IT LO5788
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 07:34:01 -0500

Replying to LO5777 --

We tried a self-managing team in 1971 at Battelle Columbus Laboratories,
having been urged to do so by a university dean who had studied
"leaderless team" theory. We had a feeling that it would be very helpful
to have on this team some social scientists, in case the team had any
problems in coming to grips with the issue that they had agreed to work

After two years of this waste of time and money, we stopped the project,
having reached, among others, the following conclusions:

a) The social scientists were the absolute worst performers in the team,
and contributed zero to the group's communication issues.

b) The group was completely incompetent at integrating the extensive and
relevant knowledge possessed by its individual members.

Nonetheless, this project was very worth while, because it demonstrated to
us in an absolutely certain way that groups needed computer assistance to
get their knowledge integrated.

That lesson is still largely unlearned. However, having developed a
system to provide that help, and seen it used hundreds of times, I feel
absolutely certain that what we concluded was correct, and that there will
never be a successful learning organization that becomes so without that
kind of help, EXCEPT for those organizations that don't have to deal with
complex issues of the type faced by the Large City Design Team.

John N. Warfield


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