Saturday, May 21, 2005

When there's doubt, shout

New Scientist reports [1] that experts are locked in an acrimonious debate about whether rinderpest is still prevalent in its last hold-out on the planet, southern Somalia. It quotes an anonymous source:

"The science involved is really not rocket science. The difficulty is people
management. When we really don't know what the best answer is, those with strong opinions and strong egos are the ones who win."
That sounds a lot like politics, national or corporate. It suggests that politicking is a sign of complexity: one faces a dispute with no easy or objective path to resolution.

As organizations get bigger, the problems they to solve become more complex, because there are more moving parts. Hence, politics becomes inevitable.

That's not to say that there aren't complex decisions to be made in start-ups; however, there are fewer of them, and fewer big egos. Usually there's just one -- the founder -- and it's their way or the highway.

The quote also reminds me of the cliche that academic arguments are so acrimonious because the stakes are so small. The subtlety of issues to be decided probably also plays a role, as does the large number of strong opinions and strong egos.


[1] "Killer in the fold", Thembi Mutch, New Scientist, 30 April 2005, p. 42

No comments: