EmployeeEngagementCollective Intelligence mines knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence of a collective to create a synergistic product.  Collective intelligence is more than the sum of its parts.  Like an alchemist seeking for a mystical combination of elements to create gold from mud, building profitable collective intelligence requires tweaking the mixture of talent to achieve the artful goals of success and profitability.  According to Thomas Malone, Robert Laubacher and Chrysanthos Dellarocas of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, one visualization of how to combine elements to create collective intelligence is by manipulating different “genes” which comprise collective intelligence.
The researchers divide the genes of collective intelligence into four categories with sub-categories that are mixed to create the organism, the collective intelligence that will better execute a project.  These elements are:

1. What is being done?  The major choices here, they believe, are create and decide.  This is not the actual project but the decisions that must be made to bring the project to fruition.  For instance, is the product development or product purpose at a stage where it needs wide input? Or, has it reached the plateau where a small number of people make the final edits?

2. Who is doing it?  Here the manager needs to ask what the best combination is of crowd input, collective intelligence, and hierarchical wisdom, individual intelligence, to drive the project at this stage.

3. Why are people doing it?  The authors state that the three compelling surface reasons people commit to enterprises are obviously money and of increasing importance in professional choices today, love and glory.  By figuring out personal motivations, collective intelligence managers can provide complementary incentives.

4. How are people doing it? Traditionally, this is an analysis of the process and structures of production. According to the authors, before looking at process and structures, collective intelligence managers must differentiate between end goals best served by independent products and those best served by interdependent products.  Take YouTube and Wikipedia as comparisons between the two types of doing.  Both YouTube and Wikipedia achieved and maintained their prominence by, in the case of YouTube – visual information and Wikipedia – knowledge.  Since YouTube is more entertainment, its process is conglomerating, but not sifting, information. Wikipedia takes conglomerated information a step higher with decisions made by members of the collective as to what is quality and accurate presentation of knowledge.

True to the nature of collective intelligence, the authors state that this is not the only visualization that outlines how to mix knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence of group members to successfully harness collective intelligence.  Over the next few posts, I will be examining, in greater depth, the four elements in collective intelligence alchemy and how different enterprises have integrated these into their structures.