When two robots arrive at a doorway, who should go first?

Robots are terribly polite these days. When two vehicles developed by a Canadian robotics firm arrive at a narrow door at the same time, they have a friendly way to decide who should pass through first……

One of the key traits of a bioteam is that it is 'self-managed' - i.e. no single overall 'command and control' structure.

This can be wrongly interpreted as all decisions must involve the democratic input of all team members.

Evolution is far too fast-moving and ruthless to allow a team using this approach to pass "survival of the fittest".

Likewise in today's organisation environments

Virtually Networked Teams need "tie-breaker" processes to quickly resolve operational urgencies where the collaborating team members have reached an impasse and are unable to agree quickly.

The robot story in the linked article is a good example of a tie-breaker process.

The robots tie-breaker process, on simultaneously reaching a door with other robots, is to nominate a robot not trying to pass through the door as the 'door arbitrator' This robot applies certain rules to decide the sequencing of how the robots go through the door. Once through the door the prior form of autonomous self-management kicks in again for each robot.

This is still a self-managing team - the team members have organised themselves in this way as peers from the bottom-up.

It is definitely a more sophisticated form of self-managed team than the popular perception.

This, however, is what happens naturally and it is also what must happen in our organisation teams if they are to be successful bioteams.

Robotic leader makes for good teamwork
News @ Nature.com 25 April 2005

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