Under Microscope

It's another world under the microscope.

Key-Actors and the Average Opinion

There is a viral online video where about a hundred small children are playing soccer against a handful of professional players. Perhaps not surprisingly, the children are entirely ineffective, and they do little more than watch the professional players win. This video is amusing to most people because it is fun to see such an interesting match between two different teams that, under normal circumstances, would not face each other.
In my opinion, the video is a lot more than amusing. It demonstrates a particularly striking reality. One cannot simply have more people work on a task and expect success. The training, the experience, and the talent of the individuals matter far more than the simple count of the team members. To be fair, this is only true for certain tasks. If you are looking to dig a large trench along the length of a field, obviously, the number of people working on it is a deciding factor for the speed and success of the operation, since people can only get so much better at swinging a pickaxe and a shovel. The productivity of all workers involved would be relatively similar, meaning three workers would always be better than one worker regardless of their efficiency. Even soccer players who are not particularly known for their advanced levels of education must be talented, go through intense training, learn to play harmoniously with a team with the utmost dedication. Even one hundred little children cannot beat a small team of professionals. I call this the effect of key-actors.
The effect of key-actors becomes even more apparent when it comes to critical decision making. Critical decision making at a large and complex organization is perhaps the most consequential action, since strategic decisions affect the entire system. Strikingly, some organizations insist on selecting these key-actors based on the average opinion, which most of the time leads to average individuals assuming these positions. In some cases, the chosen actors are even less competent than the average. Whether this awful truth is palatable or not, the individuals who will be unravelling the mysteries of physics, biology, medicine, engineering, or mathematics, cannot be discovered based on the average opinion. The individuals who will be reinventing important processes or innovating to change the world will not be revealed by asking around the room. Although some people are thoroughly educated in some specific fields, everyone is entirely ignorant in almost all things to know. If we take a sufficiently large group of people without a deliberate selection process at play, this fact implies that whether society is highly educated or not, its average opinion is almost always either trivial or wrong. While this is such a clear fact, why do we insist on choosing critical decision-makers based on the average public opinion?