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Today’s Research Path

October 30, 2010

I read the first few chapters of the Clay Shirky book, “Here Comes Everyone” today, and here are some of my initial findings.

“Human beings are social creatures” and as such operate within groups.  In fact we operate in groups more effectively than we do in isolation. The complexity of these groups however comes at a cost, where cost is the sum of resources being allocated to a task (money, time, energy).  But what sets apart a group and a hierarchical organisation is co-ordination, and this co-ordination and associated costs is known as the “Institutional Dilemma”.

Mr Shirky states that group complexity grows faster than group size, so in a group of 5 people there are 10 connections, in a group of 10, there are 45 connections and in a group of 15, there are 105 connections etc.  The larger the organisation gets the greater its management responsibilities and cost.  There is a tipping point at which this gets too great for the organisation and it fails.

I need to research more on Ronald Coase’s 1936 article “The Nature of the Firm” and the “Coasean Floor” that transaction costs are now going below.  This floor contains many activities that the transactions costs are so low that the pay off is too small for a firm to care about in the past, but now the tools exist to achieve success in these activities and how these can now be leveraged to increase effectiveness.  One of the obvious ones is the one message to all, breaking the organisational lines and introducing the sharing ethos of groups.

One last point I covered and will be looking into further is the comparison of Sharing, v’s Co-Operation, v’s Collaboration, v’s Collective Action.

I also looked at a Daniel Pink talk on motivation and the difference between what science knows and what management does with regard to Motivating and Getting Work Done.  Carrot and Stick incentives work on narrow focus tasks with clear guidelines and instruction, but where a level of critical thinking is required, Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are proven to motivate better.  As an example Mr Pink uses Google’s percent time and how half the new products coming from the company originate from this activity.

Here is Clay Shirky in a TED lecture from June 2009.

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