Thursday, October 12, 2006

Working in competition

When is it good to create a competitive environment for a project? When would you assign several persons/teams/departments with the same task and select the best solution presented to you?

I think it is sometimes a good idea, but there are a few conditions:

  1. All participant entities (persons/teams/departments/whatever) must be mutually independent. If you create a competition between entities that need each other's help to succeed, you'll just harm their chances of getting good results and increase the time it takes to get these sub-optimal results.
  2. There must be a different general approach for each entity. For example, one team might provide a web-based solution while the other might provide a smart-client solution. If two entities use the same approach, you stand much better chances to succeed if you put them together.
  3. (Optional) The task should have an intrinsic reward. If working on the task is a reward in itself, or if the results are a reward even if you don't win the competition - then everybody wins, no matter what. An excellent example is a competition of "the best-looking room" in the office. The more you invest, the better your room will look and the nicer it will be for you to work there, regardless of your ranking in the competition.

Can you think of anything else?

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