Conventional approaches to team structure attempt to minimize the barriers within and among teams. The stated hypothesis is that fewer barriers increase the frequency with which ideas are shared, built upon, experimented and dropped, and that this leads to the global optimum. The unstated hypothesis is that the ideas shared would have been thought through and developed in terms of the broader context. This is clearly false, and unless the company institutes some sort of a barrier, it can get lost in a dancing landscape of local optima.
A constructive way of instituting barriers is to ask people to write a 100-150 word description of their idea/proposal, especially if it requires a “non-trivial” amount of resources to evaluate. Writing provides a clear narrative of why and how. When they are writing, people have to articulate their thoughts in a more structured and coherent way than they do in other formats. It forces people to think before they speak. As a result, their thoughts are more developed. Adding a word limit simultaneously prevents rambling and under development of their ideas.
Barriers of fear or fiat are detrimental to the productivity and morale of the team. Constructive barriers democratise access to the checkpoints, and can improve the practice and process of how the team functions.
Fortune favours the prepared mind