Have you ever had a friend call you up for advice, only to find out that they did the opposite of what you told them?
Well, I sure have! Its happened on a personal scale as well as in business.
The problem at hand was that they had already made up their mind, they just needed someone out in the universe to give them the “green light”.
This happens a lot in business.
Young entrepreneurs seek to aggressively move their companies forward and come up with a ton of new ideas. However, they tend to only ask those around them that they know will concur with their thought process. The result is a massive step backwards.
I want to bring to your attention the advantages of tapping into the wisdom of crowds and getting rid of your “go-to” board or business partners/colleagues and so-called trusted advisers.
Just recently, I came across an article that discussed how the U.S. Navy located the wreckage of a lost submarine, not by consulting with their Naval experts, but rather by allowing the power of a large group of people with absolutely zero knowledge or expertise to provide an estimate of its location and calculating the mean average of every estimate. When the submarine was found, it was just 220 yards from where the group had said it would be.
The astonishing thing about this story is that the evidence that the group was relying on was virtually non-existent. No one person knew why the submarine sank, how fast it was going, or how deep it fell to the bottom of the ocean, but the group as a whole actually came up with the right answer.
The concept to grasp is collective intelligence can be applied to a wide variety of problems. However, the key to it working at the level it needs to be will require three conditions to be effective: diversity, independence, and decentralization.
- Diversity– Diversity is important among the members of the group because it helps generate a wider set of possible solutions and makes it better for problem solving. It adds a perspective that would otherwise be absent and weakens some of the destructive characteristics of group making. Diversity simple makes it easier for a group to make a decision based exclusively on facts, rather than emotional biases and allegiances.
- Independence– Independence is a crucial ingredient in effective decision making. By allowing and enabling each member of the group to make up his or her own mind, the rationality of the group decision is easily maintained.
- Decentralization– Decentralization facilitates independence of opinion while allowing individuals to coordinate their activities and collaborate to solve their problems.
You see, the problem that is generally found in your small group of trusted advisers is that as individuals, they have more impact on overall judgments. Thus, the very thing you are looking for in regards to wisdom and problem solving more than likely will end up making flawed decisions.
Further research shows that companies like Hewlett-Packard use this strategy in almost everything they do. They use an interesting method that absolutely makes sense to me and is fun to implement. They allow their employees to anonymously buy and sell shares of a fictitious company stock that has implemented the current companies strategy. By buying and selling shares, it reflects their view of future sales of particular products and business strategies. Now that’s a powerful concept!
So, the next time you have an idea or a new strategy, try dumping your trusted advisers and go the way of the crowd. You might just find more knowledge, better overall direction and better decisions that get better results.
Onward and Upward,