Avoiding the Fireman in a Startup and Other Lessons in Group Dynamics

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Yesterday I had a group of my students participate in a group dynamics simulation. It’s a pretty standard one – a group is stranded in the dessert and needs to figure out which items to salvage from the crashed plane.  I am happy to report that my students now have sufficient training to prioritize items and perhaps survive in a desert environment.  And people suggest an undergraduate degree has no value….

Actually, the simulation is a very useful teaching tool, because it reveals important things about how people approach group decision making.  The process of group decision making is particularly relevant to startups, since they tend to have flat, consensus driven decision making structures, particularly in the seed and early stages.  Moreover, the vibe of startup formation, shaped by the hacker culture that spawned Jobs, Gates and the rest, tends towards consensus and inclusiveness.  Therefore, appreciation of the risks in group dynamics is an essential management tool for startup founders.

To understand group dynamics, you need first to appreciate that group behavior is very much shaped by…

Read entire blog post from April 12, 2012.

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