How anarchists make decisions.

Having worked with Digital Anarchy for many years, I am often asked how decisions are made. We are pretty small staff and everyone is always running around trying to make their own tasks happen. How do we take the time to focus on monthly goals, development priorities and the like?

It’s simple: We order Chinese food for lunch.

If THAT method doesn’t work, then we spend more time at the lunch table and talk over ideas. The more people at lunch, the longer the meeting seems to take. This question made me think about an article I read recently on PsyBlog, ‘Why Groups Fail to Share Information Effectively.’

“In 1985 Stasser and Titus published the best sort of psychology study… They found that people trying to make decisions in groups spend most of their time telling each other things that everyone already knows. In comparison people are unlikely to bring up new information known only to themselves. The result: poor decisions.”

The reasons? “1. Memory. Shared information is likely to be more memorable in the first place, so more likely to be brought up by someone… 2. Pre-judgements. People make their minds up to varying degrees before they have a group discussion… 3. Anxiety. Before a meeting people are unsure how important the information they know is, and are also anxious to be seen in a good light by others in the group.”

It’s an interesting result. Maybe the best way to run a meeting of many attendees is to give out a list of talking points that are common knowledge. That limits the mastication. WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR COMPANY?

For Digital Anarchy, everyone at our company has a specialized area of responsibility (bulging and overloaded, but special). Without each of us there, there is unique information that is not contributed. Even so, sometimes I am tempted to just look at fortune printouts and see where fate brings us. It’s the anarchist in me.

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