- 26 May 2015
- Research & Ideas
In a panel discussion, several professors shared practical findings and tricks-of-the-trade from recent field research. Among the discoveries: how to prompt employees to get a flu shot. Closed for comment; 1 Comment(s) posted.
- 04 May 2015
- Research & Ideas
Organizations spend a lot of money enabling employees to solve problems collectively. But inducing more collaboration may actually hinder the most important part of problem-solving: actually solving the problem. Research by Jesse Shore, Ethan Bernstein, and David Lazer. Open for comment; 11 Comment(s) posted.
- 14 Apr 2014
- Working Paper Summaries
Facts and Figuring: An Experimental Investigation of Network Structure and Performance in Information and Solution Spaces
How can managers create organizations that bring people together to successfully solve problems? One increasingly popular managerial tactic to improve problem-solving performance is to increase the connectedness, or what academics call clustering, of the organization. Using everything from transparent, open offices to open social collaboration platforms, connecting everyone and everything, the theory goes, will produce better solutions. True or false? In the lab, the authors randomly assigned individuals to 70 sixteen-person organizations—some more clustered than others—and asked each organization to solve a complex problem: divine the who, what, where, and when of an impending terrorist attack (akin to the famous Clue® whodunit game). They did so using a platform not unlike real intelligence problem-solving environments: Through their computers, individuals could search for information, share information with each other, and share theories about the solutions, while the platform tracked all behavior. The results? Connectedness had different effects on the "facts" and "figuring" stages of problem solving. Search for information (facts) was, indeed, more efficient the more connected the organization. But performance in interpreting the information (figuring) to develop solutions was undermined by too much connectedness. The same connections that helped individuals coordinate their search for information also encouraged individuals to reach consensus on less-than-perfect solutions, making connectedness a true double-edged sword. The authors conclude with a discussion of implications for both theory and practice in our increasingly connected 'small world' and suggest directions for future research. Key concepts include: Problem solving requires two important and complementary forms of search: searching for information (for the facts that may be important pieces of the puzzle) and searching for solutions (for theories that combine puzzle pieces into an answer). The same network structure can promote or inhibit knowledge diversity, depending on whether that knowledge consists of information, or interpretations of information. 'Good' communication structures may only be good for parts of the process of collective problem solving: structures that are good now may be bad later. Organizations might be wise to adopt different communications structures for different phases of collective problem solving. Rather than allow the march of technology to dictate organizational performance, it is possible to imagine how technology could be harnessed to achieve different performance goals. Closed for comment; 0 Comment(s) posted.
- 04 Mar 2014
- Sharpening Your Skills
- 25 Nov 2013
- Research & Ideas
Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Ethan S. Bernstein explains why decreasing workplace transparency can increase productivity. Closed for comment; 26 Comment(s) posted.