Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Capitalizing on the power of group problem-solving

The concept of "swarm intelligence" refers to the ability of a group of individual creatures (such as ants or bees) to perform complicated problem solving using cues from each other. Individually, each member may be unintelligent. Yet as a group, they act with an intelligence that far exceeds that of each unit.

According to the July issue of National Geographic, scientists are studying the possibilities of swarm intelligence as applied to robotics or even human organizations.

The power of group thinking has been a known commodity for a long time, but the possibilities of systemizing the cues sent by individuals in a group to each other -- well, that could revolutionize the way we organize meetings, brainstorming sessions, or even focus groups.

We've developed our own version of swarm intelligence to help companies generate ideas, though we've found that a group size of eight individuals makes the most effective size. We have also developed a sort of cue system: a set of tools that accelerate idea generation and capture action steps. N-of-8® is our way of creating a hive with the target purpose of idea generation from the customer's point of view.

The next time you have ant guests at your picnic, think about the obstacles they had to overcome just to show up. How can the power of a group help you achieve your next goal?

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