7 – Roles and responsibilities clearly documented

In order for a company to operate as an intelligent swarm, it must be clear who is doing what and who is responsible for what.

This also includes who does not do what because it is outside the scope of duties and responsibility. And all of this must be transparent for everyone involved.

Developer, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Business Analyst, Release Engineer, Solution Architect - to name just a few roles with specific responsibilities in a modern company. What the people in the respective roles do and what they are responsible for is very different. And at the same time they work closely together, namely as an intelligent swarm.

So that the swarm intelligence is as high as possible, it is necessary to keep the social entropy as low as possible. This applies to meetings, communication between teams and exchanges in teams.

What is social entropy?

A kind of noise that grows out of a mixture of ambition, the need to communicate and the need to be recognized. Nobody is free from this mixture. Because ambition and the need to communicate and thus to be visible are quite simply human. People want to talk to each other, to hold speeches, to be heard and to be taken seriously. Verbal exchange is a basic need. But there is a difference between goal-oriented communication in a swarm, talking and gossip.

Talk distracts the swarm, impeding shared focus. Talking is entertaining, for example at the coffee machine, serves to relax and is therefore valuable. Without goal-oriented communication, however, there is no progress. Only targeted communication gets the swarm moving in a meaningful way and thus further, because it serves to navigate together.

Schools of starlings (like some schools of fish) can move in a self-organized and coordinated manner as a school because they have minimized the entropy of schooling. The roles and thus also the responsibilities are clearly defined for all individuals in the swarm.

Don't worry: This isn't an invitation to turn your company into an animal heartthrob.

But understanding the principle is fundamental. A swarm is capable of operations that a cluster of individuals cannot. A bunch of individuals, with rules, orders to follow the rules, and the execution of orders, can be turned into an army moving in one direction with some degree of coordination. But this movement is two-dimensional. The swarm moves on principles. These principles are validated with every movement and tweaked with micro-adjustments where necessary.

The movement as a swarm is three-dimensional.

In the digital age of multidimensional dependencies, only multidimensional movement as an intelligent swarm leads to sustainable success. If you don't understand this, you can expect crash landings.

The central tool for coordinating the multidimensional movement is targeted communication, according to the respective roles and responsibilities. The core of targeted communication is that competence speaks to competence, and that competently via asynchronous channels. The exchange at the coffee machine is also asynchronous, because it is probably not scheduled as a scheduled meeting, but falls into the category of speeches. Talking can be competent, but above all serves individual well-being, which is valuable but not used for swarm navigation. It is best to have as little talk as possible, because talk is inherently incompetent. Gossip includes gossip and slander, i.e. pure entropy.

Clear roles and responsibilities plus goal-oriented communication reduces entropy and enables efficient self-organization for multidimensional mobility. This mobility is of central importance in the digital era.

8 - Silent Heroes