#252: Don’t Co-Operate. It Leads to Sub-Optimization

Quite correctly, managers want people to co-operate. But be warned. Co-operation can lead to sub-optimization.

Whenever people try to co-operate, there is a risk that everyone will ultimately perform at the level of the lowest contributor or the weakest member. This happens because:

  1. Co-operation seldom happens among equals.
  2. The weakest member cannot hide and is aware of being weak.
  3. Nobody enjoys feeling as if they are doing more than others without receiving more in return.

This creates situations where the weak want to be rescued and the strong wonder why they should bother. The weak sense this and create minor irritations (mainly through passive-aggressive behavior) so that the strong are kept off-balance. In this way, the weak claim some power.

The outcome? Although co-operation is meant to make all parties perform better, it more often leads to sub-optimization.

(Next time I will explain how collaboration resists the tug of sub-optimization.)

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.