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These days, the concept of collective intelligence is extremely popular — and, thanks to the Internet, companies turn to online communities to do everything from choose t-shirt designs to solve business problems. Now, in “Decisions: 2.0: The Power of Collective Intelligence,” an article in the Winter 2009 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, Eric Bonabeau looks at not only the appeal of collective intelligence but also the practical issues managers need to consider to use it successfully.
For every collective intelligence success story, Bonabeau notes, there are “likely numerous projects that have failed because of faulty mechanism designs.” He concludes:
although a success like Wikipedia might look simple on the surface, that superficial simplicity belies a complex underlying mechanism for harnessing the power of collective intelligence. Consequently, any company that is developing a Decisions 2.0 application would do well to understand some fundamental issues, such as the balance between diversity and expertise, and the distinction between decentralized and distributed decision making.