In working recently on the topic of leadership and decision making processes in social environments, I thought I'd clarify something per my book. Quite often I see these decision-making methods split into simple categories--centralized versus marketplace (or distributed)--when there is so much more. Additionally, the way how people work to produce results is not the same as who is involved in making the decisions.
One milling question from those who’ve looked closely at my book, Social Networking for Business, is that leadership and decision-making processes seem to appear in two different areas: the chapter 3 “Leadership in Social environments” and then later again in the section “Describing the Form of Aggregation” in Chapter 4 on Social Tasks. I should explain the key differences here.
Chapter 3 focuses on six different common leadership models: Centralized, Centralized w/ Input, Delegated, Representative, Starfish and Swarm. These models focus on who is allowed to participate in the decision making process, set direction for the social group, and select leaders. These range from those with very strongly centered to very distributed leadership.
The Aggregation methods on the other hand describe how these decisions are made or this work executed: Independent, Autonomous, Consensus, Deliberative, and Combative. These again are alternatives to each other to create results.
- Independent—Members work on the task separately, but the results are aggregated across all members
- Autonomous—Members work on the task separately of each other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate work.
- Consensus—A group of members works directly together on the task with the intent to deliver an overall collective result, even if it’s not unanimous or convergent.
- Deliberative—A group of members works directly together without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result.
- Combative—Members must compete against each other to derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.
Certain pairs are more likely to occur: e.g., a swarm is likely to use the Independent aggregation where only the combined results (voting) across many members result in a single value. A delegated model is likely to have autonomous decisions spread across the different domains delegated across the leaders.
The moral here:
Set the right expectations -- Be clear not only about who can make the decisions, but also for those who can do so, how they can make such decisions.