Which is More Valuable: Collaboration or Competence?

29 Jan 2012 /
Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians (1921), Museum ...

Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians (1921), Museum of Modern Art

The title of this post makes a good interview question. Usually, the candidate will say something to the effect of “they’re both valuable” to avoid the possibility of slipping up and choosing the one that the interviewer believes is less valuable.

Let’s say we need to get a picture painted. We could say, “Picasso — you’re our best guy in this area. We’d like you to paint the picture for us.”

Or we could say, “Picasso — work with the steering committee to get that picture painted.”

You could make a case for either approach, but you can’t do both. So which is more valuable?

Personally, I think collaboration is overrated. It leads to the knowledge of experts and novices being given equal weight.

There’s a reason why pilots don’t invite passengers into the cockpit to get their opinions on how to fly the plane . . .

Thus spoke The Programmer.


3 Comments on Which is More Valuable: Collaboration or Competence? »

  1. MS

    MS

    31 Jan 2012 @ 11:42 am


    I think it’s a misconception that collaboration leads to experts and novices being given equal weight. When self-proclaimed experts and expert proclaimed novices are both able to contribute, it leads to buy in from the collaborative team because people feel that their ideas are being heard. It doesn’t mean the ideas of the novices are given equal weight at all. It gives the appearance that everyone is welcome to contribute, whether the group decides to go with the expert advice or novice advice.

  2. 31 Jan 2012 @ 2:59 pm


    So one vote for collaboration over competence …

  3. MS

    MS

    31 Jan 2012 @ 4:51 pm


    No, that’s an incorrect assumption. As far as I’m concerned, competence rules. I was just poking holes in your statement and providing an alternate view. It’s how I roll.

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