What Interest Me This Week

Human-groups coordination

I come from a micro family. There's no coordination problem when there were only three humans. If something needs to get done, one point person gets assigned, makes the decision on the course of action and it gets done.

When there were only three people to satisfy it's not that hard. Furthermore we tend to have in mind to make the job as easy as possible for the executor. If opinions were voiced, they better add real value and not friction to the coordination.

I realized last week, in a regular family this quality is not a norm.

Once a family comes a certain size and hierarchy isn't absolutely clear, trying to get anything done is worse than herding cats. The inefficiency can be astounding.

Depending on the psychological imprint of the group, coordination becomes a source of conflict. Just recall your last family discussion on where to go to lunch.

Unlike a corporation though, the surface area of conflict for even a regular sized family is larger. Given that family bond can't be broken, there's practically no stake in any confrontation. Going nuclear is always an option when there's nothing to lose.

Confrontations are subsequently subjected to Metcalfe's Law; conflicts escalate in exponential term.

This leads me to conclude that human coordination in a family is not about outcomes. It's about feelings. And they are dances, not problems to be solved.

Making dinner plans alone is made into an infinite game where the hot-potato of dissatisfaction changes hand from one person to another. This stops when someone is willing to swallow the pride and go along with the plan without adding new opinion.

This is how societal democracy functions. Not rightfully so but an inevitable outcome.

It turns coordinations from finite problems into infinite games. Disagreeability is what it takes to perpetuate the game. That it is a source of conflict is just an unfortunate side effect.

The antidote on a societal level is of course autocracy. It's just easier if someone has the last say and move on. That's why corporations are effective.

So maybe families are not meant to be effective and has never meant to.

Side note: while noticing this I forgot to use the Enneagram to map the players. That would've been helpful in navigation.

When they keep selling you the upsides of a family unit (love, support, all that jazz), I now wonder if they say that compensate for the conflict debt that inevitably accrue.