Peer pressure often times gets a lot of bad credit. But in the programming workplace, what if there was no peer pressure? Would that be a good thing?
Let’s skin this animal and see what we find.
Take a look at a company that utilizes the natural presence of peer pressure in a company environment.
A different kind of company…
What if there existed a company that did not have any bosses? Let us look at a company called Gore Associates:
“At Gore there are no titles. If you ask people who work there for their card, it will just say their name and underneath it the word ‘Associate,’ regardless of how much money they make or how much responsibility they have or how long they have been at the company. People don’t have bosses, they have sponsors – mentors – who watch out for their interests. There are no organization charts, no budgets, no elaborate strategic plans. Salaries are determined collectively. Headquarters for the company is a low-slung, unpretentious red brick building. The ‘executive’ offices are small, plainly furnished rooms, along a narrow corridor.”
From the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
What they have accomplished is the closeness and peer pressure that exists in a small company (they are huge), and yet there is no limit in how much they can grow. They realize that within groups of 150 people (at the most), people can have relationships with each other. They learn each others’ strengths and weaknesses. They learn about who has what knowledge..and this creates an atmosphere that is very productive.
When you are held responsible to other people and when you are in an environment that has competition, that not only helps the company as a whole, but it allows for more individual growth. In the typical corporate atmosphere, accountability and competition can be lost because no one really knows anyone else. But the other side of this, in extra small companies, you can have too much accountability…where every move is constantly watched.
The human mind does not have the capacity for significant relationships with more than 150 people. I’m not describing best friends here…just people that you know on some level. When you are in a group that is larger than that, than sub groups start to form and people don’t branch out much. People don’t know other peoples’ strengths. Time and profit are lost. This has been researched and confirmed to be true in many different cultures and atmospheres…ranging from the military to Hutterites.
I took all of this valuable information from a book called The Tipping Point and from my own experience. It is a great read that goes into marketing and how things go viral. It also covers topics such as different personality traits, and the reliability of character. I highly recommend this book.
When there is no peer pressure, productivity typically goes down. So it is in your best interest and in the best interest of the company to be in an environment that has accountability and competition. Without these things we can get lazy and complacent.
At least for me, the times when I am under pressure, I learn more than I usually do. My mind goes into “freak” out mode, and I get done what I need to get done. This ties very well with an article I wrote a while ago on how the easy path is not what you want.