Swarming and the Management of Remote Teams
I'm interested in what people know or think about the concepts embodied in swarm intelligence and their application(s) to management of distributed work forces.
One of the foundational papers on the subject was written in 2001 (or at least published in the May 2001 issue of the Harvard Business Review) by Eric Bonabeau and Christopher Meyer, Swarm Intelligence: A Whole New Way to Think About Business.
I first became interested in it when I met a man who had previously been quoted in the article (he's currently the CoB of my company), and recommended that I read the article. Jim Donehey, former CIO of Capital One, used four rules to help ensure everyone in his organization was working toward the same shared goals: always align IT activities with the business, use good economic judgment, be flexible, and have empathy for others in the organization. Within the 4 rules, innovation did occur. What was created was an IT department that thought for itself in a very volatile business environment, but also one that understood boundaries of responsible business management. There is nothing rigid in this approach. The rules are meant to be bent (or broken given consensus or an obvious need for a change).
The point of all of this is that I'm in the process of completing a gov't contract in which my company has six subcontractors, including 3 national labs, dispersed around the country; my engineer is located close to where I (used to) live, on Long Island, and I am the only one in my company in San Antonio (or Texas - or south of Virginia for that matter).
In all fairness, while I use a few of the concepts, modified for my own management style and requirements, at least one of my management team believes that "swarm" is pure BS. It is a matter of opinion as in all else, this one gentlemen rarely disagrees with the strategy at hand.