They are smarter than you think!
Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
The Wisdom of Crowds
Why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business,
economies, societies and nations
by James Surowiecki
Just a few years ago, Who Wants to be a Millionaire was one of the most popular shows on television. The premise of the show was a contestant answering increasingly difficult questions, for increasing prize money up to a million dollars. However, the contestant could elicit help from the studio audience or could call “experts” called “life lines”. Over the running of the show some interesting statistics emerged. The life lines offered the correct answer 63% of the time. The majority of the studio audience (non experts), voting independently, produced the correct answer 91% of the time.
The example above is just one of the numerous fascinating illustrations explored by James Surowiecki in The Wisdom of Crowds. He serves as our guide into a new landscape of how to improve our decision making skills. His thoughtful, entertaining and persuasive writing challenges our traditional methods of decision making for both our personal and business lives.
Consider how leaders traditionally make decisions. There is an office meeting, ad hoc committee, board of advisors, cabinet, etc., in essence, a group of people sitting together and discussing the best solutions to problems. Some people inevitably do the most talking or the boss is in the room and participants may feel intimidated and defer to the ultimate decision maker. Tremendous time and resources are expended and the group brainstorming session inevitability misses the power of the uninhibited individual’s thought. Also there may be part of a decision culture of “we need all the facts to make the correct decision.” As we learn, waiting for all the information is most likely detrimental to the quality of the decision. Also individuals working only as a group may cause the dreaded groupthink to emerge.
According to this insightful book, the best way to make management decisions may in fact be having people work independently on possible solutions, then having them present their ideas to the group, thus having the assembled individuals arrive at the best solution. Also keep in mind that not having all the information is many times a positive. It calls upon the diverse experience and powerful intuition of the group. This process results in the most powerful and predictable way to arrive at the best solution.
The Wisdom of Crowds challenges conventional wisdom. Time spent with this book will save you time in your next meeting.
Hooked on the book? Click here to buy now.
Dr. Brian Beirl is an educator, author, presenter, consultant and business coach. Dr. Beirl is passionate in helping his clients live the life of their dreams.
He may be reached at: BrianBeirlDDS@BBeirl.com