Several years ago, after a particularly exasperating day interacting with production (when we still manufactured in Canada), I complained to my supervisor—the Gradin portion of this theory—that "If you took two people and added their IQs together..." At that point, I paused momentarily, and he immediately interjected, "You would get a negative number."
The engineer in me wondered if this could be possible. This led me to a plausible explanation. The MBA in me wanted this expressed as a theory. Boredom while waiting for a plane's departure led me to write this down.
The Gradin-Kagan effect (or worker empowerment: phooey)
Any element of society is subject to the law of entropy. Unless forced to assume some entity by an external force, it will degenerate into a form that approaches chaos. In the absence of clear, unambiguous, nonconflicting, and attainable goals, the Gradin-Kagan Effect will manifest itself as follows:
Hypothesis No. 1 (Kagan's Law or the inverse synergy effect): When two or more people work together, the effective IQ of the group is almost always less than the simple sum of their individual IQs. IQ is not a scalar quantity. It has at least one other dimension that prevents the simple addition of IQs when several people work together.
Hypothesis No. 2 (Gradin's Law): When two or more people work together, the effective IQ will always give a negative number. In a normal distribution of the vector IQs of a group, it would be expected that the second dimensions of the IQs would cancel each other out, giving an effective IQ of zero. However, in what must be a previously unobserved effect of Murphy's Law, the effective IQ is always less than zero.
Hypothesis No. 3: Any person working in a group will have his/her IQ reduced when making any simple decision. Through some perverse feedback effect, as yet unexplained, the negative number derived through Gradin's Law is added to each individual IQ, thereby reducing that IQ. For example, an individual with sufficient IQ to distinguish which end of a burning cigarette to put in his mouth, in a workgroup setting, would happily lick the hot end and still be surprised at the resulting burn.
According to the Dilbert Principle, all management is incompetent. As a result, there may never be a situation where the Gradin-Kagan Effect is ever negated by suitable goals.
By the way, the burning cigarette part is true.
Have you ever felt frustrated enough with the stupidity of other people that you would be willing to share your experiences with the rest of us?
Aubrey Kagan is Engineering Manager at Emphatec.