17-Oct-99                                              MIT MindFest, Show & Tell
Dr. Nira Krumholtz                                                                   “IDEA-Center”
 
Leadership and Collaboration – A Dilemma

Smart Robots as Means for Exploration
 
 

Strategies of leadership and methods of teamwork management are at the hub
of attention in areas as wide apart as engineering and education. Better understanding
of leadership, management and team collaboration in organizations is considered
a subject of prime importance, and is finding its way to the curricula in a growing
number of schools all over the world.

Goal: To learn about leadership and teamwork management strategies and how they are
suited to various situations.

Method: Simulating management of teamwork situations using automatic machines and robots,
controlled by TechnoLogica™ software and Leonardo™ interface.

We searched a way of using computer technology to simulate situations of leading, managing
and organizing teamwork, in the classroom. We turned to the field of automation, since it is
concerned with organizing and controlling complex systems.

We plan to simulate various types of management and teamwork.
One type is centralized management, which is dominating, dictating every detail, and creating
over-dependence of workers on the manager. Moreover, the manager is totally occupied in
directing the workers and she/he is not free to consider new situations. The worker is not expected
to think but to perform exactly as directed. Another type of management strategy is the one that
empower the workers, encourage independent thinking and involve them in making decisions on their own.
To simulate these types of management and teamwork, the simulation system requires at least two features:
communication with designated recipients and the ability to send each recipient a different set of operations
to perform. Communication is performed not only by transferring values, but also by transferring commands
and directions for operation. This enables the learner to think about how management should be performed:
what part of the job the manager can do, and how should the task be divided among the workers.
To simulate such types of management and highlight the differences, advantages and deficiencies, we selected
Leonardo technology, which includes Leonardo interface and TechnoLogica software. Leonardo has the unique
feature of ID that enables it to communicate with designated recipients, and allows sending a series of commands.
The communication can be held both from the PC to any designated interface and from one interface to another
one or to several. By using Leonardo technology, it is possible to simulate management situations both of the
centralized, over-dominating type, and of the worker-collaboration type. Each “worker”- robot can process data,
make a decision and then perform the task according to the decision it has made. It can as well, send its decision
to another designated robot.

In the MindFest we intend to demonstrate simulations of management and team collaboration i.e., a
task of sorting colored cups, carried out by three different managing strategies, through the use of
Leonardo and TechnoLogica. We shall then comment on the potential of these simulations as
educational activities in a classroom learning about management and leadership dilemmas.