26 May 2011
One of my favourite Billy Connolly gags is when he says: “There were 400 Clydeside dockyard workers pulling on a rope. When the rope snapped, no one fell over”. Think about it.
This is what we call The Ringelmann Effect.
German researcher Max Ringelmann (1861-1931) conducted an experiment where he had people alone and in groups pull on a rope. He discovered, surprisingly, the sum of the individual pulls did not equal the total of the group pulls. Three people pulled at 2.5 times the average individual performance, and 8 people pulled at less than a four-fold performance. The group result was much less than the sum of individual efforts.
Ringelmann noticed that, as you added more and more people to a group pulling on a rope, the total force exerted by the group rose, but the average force exerted by each group member declined.
How does it affect you/ your business? Particularly if you lead a team of people, how might this be preventing you achieving your goals, how might it be blocking your Awesome Special Missions (ASMs - those short term big breakthrough goals you are cureently working on)?
How to overcome it? A number of factors have been identified as means of overcoming The Ringelmann Effect.