These topics may appear to be separate but are closely related to the need for an effective solution design process, approach and function.
Nearly 50 years ago, Dr Melvin Conway wrote a short and insightful article titled How Do Committees Invent? where he made a number of observations on the system and solution design process including “… organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” which has become known as Conway’s Law. He identified organisation problems that lead to poor solution design.
Conway’s Law is a warning rather than a prediction. It provides an insight into the solution design problems that can occur if the solution design structures, processes and function are not optimised. What he describes does not have to happen but all too frequently does.
Cognitive Diversity has become a fashionable concept that is talked about more than implemented. It has been written about extensively by Dr Scott Page. The core concept is that “… a random group of intelligent problem solvers will outperform a group of the best problem solvers”.
The value of cognitive diversity to organisations is greatest in the thinking areas such as the solution design function. Managing diverse teams can be difficult and achieving cognitive diversity can be painful and challenging. Cognitive diversity of less value in pure operational and transactions areas where there is a reduced need for problem-solving.
Cognitive diversity protects the organisation against factors such as Cognitive Bias, Strategic Misrepresentation, Planning Fallacy, Optimism Bias, Focalism and Groupthink and their consequences.
Cognitive diversity protects against the effects of Conway’s Law.
Many organisations are attempting to transform themselves in response to external changes and drivers. Organisation transformation is frequently concerned with a migration from product-orientation to services-orientation characterised by responsiveness, customer centricity, self-service and flexibility. Information technology underpins successful and effective organisation transformation.
This is especially true of initiatives such as digital transformation. Digital transformation involves designing and implementing solutions across a wide range of application and system areas.
Being good at solution design means that solutions are defined, designed and delivered in a reliable, stable and innovative way to ensure that cost, time, required functionality and quality are constantly optimised to meet the needs of the business.
Good solution design mean:
• Being aware of all the options and selecting the most appropriate one subject to all constraints
• Avoiding all the conscious and unconscious biases that lead to bad solutions
Put simply, a cognitively diverse team designs better solutions.