Large scale collaboration for solving public problems

(Dinorah Cantú-Pedraza) #1

Collaboration at scale requieres trust at scale.

##What are some interesting models that can be explored to enable large-scale collaboration for solving public problems?

Here some of the ones I’ve been exploring:

###Spotify engineering culture

Agile matters more than Scrum.
Principles matter more than practices.
Servant leaders matter more than process masters.

Autonomous squads of people (max 8) = small, cross-functional, self-organizing team. They seat together and they have N to N responsibility for the stuff they build (design, commit, deploy, maintenance, operations, etc). They have a long term mission.
Autonomy = squad decides what to build, how to build it and how to work together while doing it. Boundaries = squad mission, overall product strategy and short term goals.

Decisions happen locally in the squads. Minimizes hand-offs and waiting. However, big mission is more important than any individual squad. Key principle: “be autonomous but don’t suboptimize!”

Leaders: focus on what problems to solve but let the teams figure out how to solve it.

###Michael Bernstein’s platform the “Foundry”

With fellow researchers at Stanford University, Bernstein investigated whether “flash-teams” of crowdsourced experts could achieve ambitious results, like designing a hi-fi prototype of an app or making a short animation in just one day. By recruiting workers through the website UpWork, and creating a web platform Foundry to manage workflows, Bernstein and his team found that flash-teams were able to achieve goals significantly faster than self-managed teams, with almost 50 percent fewer work hours expended.

Nevertheless, Bernstein pointed out that these flash-teams are limited in what they can do. Flash-teams need pre-defined workflows so that tasks can be delegated and guided, and only small teams can be involved on a single project. For larger, more complex projects, where workflows may evolve or be undefined, flash-teams are unable to deliver sufficient results.

###What other variables should we consider when analyzing those models?

  • Role of a leader (or multiple leaders)
  • Role of the crowd
  • Incentives for participation
  • Quality control
  • Communication channels