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My previous post was about brevity in communication by choosing models over narrative requirements. That’s not necessarily an endorsement of writing/drawing over talking.

Most writing is a unidirectional activity, with varying latency. Responses to IM messages can take seconds or minutes, responses to emails can take minutes or hours, and responses to published documentation can take hours to days…and what is the meaning of no response at all? Was my brilliant writing not seen? Ignored? Acknowledged and put aside? Conversations can unlock the mystery of what others think, and more important, collaboration allows good ideas to blossom into great ideas.

I ran across a well written post that emphasizes this point:

Now having said (written) all that, an intuitive colleague at Improving, Jef, pointed out the sheer irony of commenting on this very subject via blog. Touche’


Business sociology can be very interesting – the dynamics of departments, groups, teams, or other blobs of people working together toward a common goal. In business school they called this organizational behavior, but I think organizational sociology sounds much cooler.

Incidentally, the Org Behavior question was the only one I missed on the comprehensive final I took when I got my MBA, but I’m a lot wiser in they ways of how groups operate now. I’d probably still fail that exam question, though, because memorizing categories and lists of labels from theorists hasn’t been particularly useful to me in the real world.

So, in terms of useful information we can use, I’m hip to how (despite the hassles and overhead of group dynamics) groups are more successful than individuals. Always. If you want to learn more about the science behind this; to hear about how fireflies the in Thailand all flash on and off in synchronicity; to hear the original exercise that inspired James Surowiecki’s jelly bean jar guessing exercise — tune in to the best Podcast on the web (imho) — Radiolab. You can download a free standard MP3 or podcast of the “Emergence” episode here.

Afterwards, you can thank me for turning you on to Radiolab. Then you can join me in complaining that they only put out 5 new episodes per season.