Can you explain the concept of collective wisdom?

In his book The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki argues that large groups of people are smarter than an elite few; they tend to make better decisions than individual members of a group. A sort of ‘collective wisdom’. One of the anecdotes he uses to illustrate his point is about the English polymath Sir Francis Galton who was surprised when the crowd at a country fair guessed the weight of an ox within 1% of its true weight.

The winning weight had been calculated by averaging their individual guesses – and was closer than any of the estimates made by cattle experts. The wisdom of crowds is all about individuals collaborating to create something greater than themselves.

Elizabeth Marks adforum liz a. marks New York Paris
Elizabeth A. Marks – adforum

A bit like Wikipedia?

Yes, good example. More than 50 million individuals have contributed to this online encyclopedia – in almost 300 different languages. There’s also ‘crowd coding’. Apple, for example, uses individual developers around the world to create apps that enhance its products; thereby driving the company’s growth. That’s pretty smart and a great example of how the wisdom of the crowd can be applied to bottom lines.

How do you see the future of communal wisdom?

I believe that it is not only choice but also the freedom to explore choice through community that will lead to an entirely new level of creative solutions. Not only for brands but also for global issues. The wisdom of the community has been proven many times over in leading to great things – so why not orchestrate it?

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