Highsmith: ‘Structural Collaboration’

In chapter 10 of his book “Adaptive Software Development,” James Highsmith III looks at how to create circumstances in which emergent results can occur. He concludes that the best type of system for this is one that borders on chaos.

The maximum size for an adequate level of collaboration and sharing is about 200-300 people. (This may track well with average number of friends people have on Facebook?)
Five types of relationships are important to collaboration:

  1. Structural: How information elements are organized
  2. Reference: Linkages between pieces of information
  3. Classification: Creation of topic hierarchies
  4. Dependency: Important for project management
  5. Who-and-what: Between components and people (who has access to what components)

One key concept:
The richness of connectivity refers to the number of connections between people or teams and the type of data flow. Too few connections produce stagnation. Too many, instability. Connectivity is a function of both content and context. Content comes from the data, while context comes from the information and experience that help the recipient interpret and understand the data.

This blog includes a series of posts that stem from readings and other source materials in the Fall 2011 “Collaboration in Networked Environments” at The New School. For more Collaboration: Key Concepts posts, click here.


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