It is 1944, and there is a war on. In a joint army and air force headquarters somewhere in England, Major Parkinson must oil the administrative wheels of the fight against Nazi Germany. The stream of vital paperwork from on high is more like a flood, perpetually threatening to engulf him.
Then disaster strikes. The chief of the base, the air vice-marshal, goes on leave. His deputy, an army colonel, falls sick. The colonel's deputy, an air force wing commander, is called away on urgent business. Major Parkinson is left to soldier on alone.
At that point, an odd thing happens - nothing at all. The paper flood ceases; the war goes on regardless. As Major Parkinson later mused: "There had never been anything to do. We'd just been making work for each other."
The article goes on to report that people have built collaboration models that 1) fail to converge at 20+ members, and 2) have a spike in probability of deadlock with 8 members.