Divide and Conquer

In my last post I suggested that a group should divide when it reaches 10 to 12 people in size.  The reason for that division was that the lack of bandwidth available beyond eight people strangles any discussion of ideas.

The fact is most “successful” groups do not want to divide.  The group is successful because the members share an interest, enjoy one another’s company, and develop friendships.  Division threatens all those things.

Most of us have memories of being divided into a group that was “left out” in some way.  If told to divide, people will choose to be with those members of their group that have the most “status.”  That is, those with the most attractive characteristics, such as ability, attitude, gregariousness, etc.  Those with the most status will crowd into one group, leaving those with least status behind in the other.  Folks in the second group are going to feel left out, and are likely to drop out if there is no compulsion to attend.

But if from the beginning the group practices the ideas of talk dancing, bandwidth, and the Occupy Wall Street hand signals, then it is likely that by the time the group is large enough to divide, everyone in the group will have become more confident, more bandwidth-aware, and more like a talk dancer.

If this is true, then randomly dividing the group in two might actually work.  It would take some research to make this determination for certain, but it does seem plausible to me.  Maybe you alphabetize by name and divide in two.

Moreover if the group can meet in a place that can accommodate a few divisions before bursting the walls, then those original ties can be maintained in the committee of the whole while new acquaintance can be deepened in the small group breakout sessions.  And even if the committee of the whole does burst the walls, it could rent out a larger space periodically (say quarterly or annually) to renew those ties that are split by group mitosis.

Think of all the ideas and goodwill that could be mobilized around a mission in a self-organizing and self replicating way: 12, 24, 48, and 96 connected members in just four iterations.  Divide and Conquer.

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