Crowd-sourcing develops wisdom. It doesn’t find answers

I dream of sunrise by Indy Kethdy via Flickr
I dream of sunrise by Indy Kethdy via Flickr

Zeitgeist of our age

As I dillied-dallied this morning, putting off the moment when I bury myself in an Excel spreadsheet, I pondered the bizarre experience of academics, like myself, teaching management in a classroom, and checked out the twitter chatter on the new crowd sourcing website being offered by government.

Crowd-sourcing is here

People seem willing to consult the populace online but don’t know what to make of the responses they get back.  There was even a spirited interchanged between a Gen Y blogger, whom I follow, and a Gen X geek, whom I also follow.  The Gen Yer was telling the Gen X to take down all his comments and get behind her drum. Hmm . . .

Someone even challenged Nick Clegg on the workability of crowd-sourced consultation. Hat-tip to @DT for this audioboo from Mark Hilary.

We want answers so that we don’t have to engage

I couldn’t quite hear Nick Clegg’s answer but the dilemma seems clear.

People are looking for answers so they can say that’s done – don’t have to talk (to you) any more.

Engagement is ongoing, messy and never ending

Engagement is ongoing – more people, more complexity, rising understanding, defined initiatives in context of a conversation.

Social psychologist, Karl E Weick provides the basic framework for understanding engagement & leadership

I don’t want to turn this into an advert for my own work but by chance, or rather because, I tried to write a plain English a few days ago, I can point you to what Weick wrote in the aftermath of 9/11 – what constitutes leadership when the world shifts abruptly beneath our feet?

What does it take to lead a community when the issues are so widespread that we must get everyone involved to be able to move forward together?

Karl E Weick is a a notoriously difficult read and I am not sure that I simplified his work sufficiently.  So let me have another go here.

  • Basically, the country has moved from the flight-fight reaction to the financial crisis, the initial startle and anger response.
  • We can give this coalition government its due in that they have moved us through the bargaining stage and to a thinking-it out stage (hopefully by-passing depression).

We are in the over-complicating stage of collectively re-thinking our world views

Weick points out that in this stage, our discussion becomes more complicated.  Indeed it becomes overly-complicated.

Over-complication is a process of looking at a problem from many perspectives

But this process of over-complication helps us understand the social context in which we frame initiatives and make small experiments in our own lives.

We gain a deep and wide appreciation of the context, or in other words, the issues as the appear from the perspectives of many people who are different to us.

Wide consultation provides the backdrop for wisdom and judgment

The context provides the backdrop for wisdom and judgment.

With this backdrop, we can take tentative steps in our own lives and in areas of our own responsibility to move forward.

The principle of self-organization and emergence apply

The leaders won’t decide for us.  We will decide just as a flock of birds decides.

  • We fly in roughly the same direction as everyone else.
  • We fly at roughly the same speed as everyone else.
  • We keep a respectable “stopping distance” so we don’t bash into each other.
  • And when the bird “on point” (the leader in human-speak), gets tired, it falls back and someone else flies point.

And note, to know where to go, the bird on point is using an exquisite sense of where the birds behind it are going.  Like all good leaders, it finds out where its followers are going so it can follow them.

So how will crowd-sourcing online help us?

  • We will not get behind one leader and follow them through predefined cause.
  • It will be messy.
  • We will use some technology to vote issues up and down and to cluster through tags.
  • some of us with an academic/journalistic bent will trawl through the data and look for themese.

But it will be messy and the gains go to anyone who is bothered to listen.

The Special Advisors are going to earn their keep reading all the threads and summarizing them. That is their traditional role isn’t it?  That’s what they are taught at uni, isn’t it?

To discern the common threads and brief their principals.

People who have rallied behind one particular cause, like the legitimate marijuana crowd in the States, will be noted.  They will stand out.  But that is not what this is about. This is a listening exercise. This is a develop nuances exercise.  This is involve people who normally would stay quiet exercise.

The essence of crowd-sourcing

This is a an exercise in developing a common appreciation of where we are going together, so we can fly like a flock of birds to where we need to go without bashing into each other, and without assuming any one of us has super-human powers to understand where we are going.

Leaders get people involved.  Leaders get people to listen.  Our common sense of who and what we are will emerge from that process – special interests and all.

Is this today’s career choice- invest in crowd sourcing OR in expert filters?

Absolute Radio launched its online radio last night. It runs under the name Dabbl from 7pm to 6am.  We nominate the tracks that they should play, and the most popular tracks win.

Dabbl as a lens on social media

A critical unresolved issue in social media is whether crowd sourcing can replace expertise.

Are our votes better than the opinions of expert DJ’s on Radio 6, for example?

I think, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding. We will have to see, in other words.

  • Do we take part?
  • Are the averages of our opinions as good as the expert knowledge of DJ’s?

Dabbl : an experiment we should all copy

Whatever the outcome – Dabbl are running a good experiment that every honest industry should finance and run.

  • How good is the filter made up by our average opinions?
  • With this baseline, experts can ask themselves a straight forward question.
    • Can we do better than the average opinion?
  • And if so how exactly do we do better?
    • How can we organize a service that is consistently better?
    • And how can we develop our service over time so that it continues to be better than average opinion?
    • In what way do our consumers think our service is better?
    • And who is so convinced by our superior performance that they are willing to fund it?

Welcome to the 21st century! I reckon Dabbl is beating the path to where we all will be soon.

What would be crowd-sourcing in your industry?

With Dabbl in front of me as a clear example, I am going to be thinking about this.  What would crowd-sourcing look like in psychology, management and consulting?

What would it mean to commit to a career in crowd-sourcing?

And what would it mean to commit to a career in an expert filter that competes with crowd-sourcing?

Is there a third choice?  And if so, what is it?

What will you be discussing with youngsters you coach?

  • Crowd-sourcing?
  • Expert filters that compete with crowd sourcing?

    UPDATE:  I think the third choice is to do both.  I think we should build platforms to crowdsource in our area and add the expertise on top.  Of course some might specialize in various aspects of the enterprise.   As a profession, I think crowdsourcing should be our basic foundation and there should be a seamless gradient to expert opinion.

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    And after EQ comes PQ . . .

    Jane McGonigal, game designer and games researcher, specializing in pervasive games and alternate reality games.

     

    Image via Wikipedia

    IQ, EQ and now PQ

    PQ is going to be the next big thing in work psychology and management. What competencies do we need for participating, leading and influencing in today’s interconnected world?

    Here is a list from Jane McGonigal, the games designer who talks of the engines of happiness. I’ve found links to her work here, here and here.

    1 Mobbability

    “- the ability to do real-time work in very large groups

    – a talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously”

    Restated: My immediate thought is the ability to mobilize people for anything – a party, a demonstration, etc. This is a little more though. It probably begins with the ability to appreciate the dynamics of a music festival, or the crowd at a big sporting event. A Mexican Wave is one of the simplest forms

    My questions: I get the feeling that I am missing something!

    2 Ping quotient

    “- measures your responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement
    – your propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network”

    Restated: How quickly do you respond to requests for your attention and participation? Do you plan your communication systems so that you are able to respond? Do you anticipate the types of inquiries you will receive and do you update your communication systems to reflect the inquiries you receive? Do you initiate contacts and broaden your network? How do people find you and how do you find them?

    My questions: Where is listening?

    3 Collaboration radar

    “the ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task”

    Restated: When you start a task, do you think about who can and will help you? Do you take an interest in what work other people like to do? Have you some kind of model in your head about how to collaborate with other people and what helps collaboration to be satisfactory or unsatisfactory?

    My questions: Is this ability to engender collaboration? Or just detect it?

    4 Influency

    “- the ability to be persuasive in diverse social contexts and media spaces
    – understanding that each work environment and collaboration space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique”

    Restated: Are you persuasive and are you persuasive to different audiences and in different settings? Are you interested in persuasion and how other people are persuasive? Are you able to communicate through different channels? Do you understand the nuances of using different channels? Have you an emerging theory of when to use various techniques and why? Do you have some idea of what motivates other people in various settings? Are you curious about their motivation? Are interested in how motivation changes when we take part in groups? Can you predict what will individuals will do next in a social settings and what an entire group or community will do? Can you anticipate what individuals, groups and communities are willing to do?

    My questions: The arts are so important, aren’t they?

    5 Multicapitalism

    “fluency in working with different capitals, e.g., natural, intellectual, social, and financial”

    Restated: How much capital do you need for your business to succeed? What do you have now? What do you need to do to

    Financial?

    Intellectual?

    Social? Whuffie?

    My questions: What is natural capital? Is social capital tradable? Is the “securitization” of social capital the next political innovation?

    6 Protovation

    “- fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles
    – ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure”

    Restated: Do you “have a go” and look for feedback from other people? Do you pick small, cheap, easy ways to experiment with new things that don’t just lead to success but teach you something important when you fail? Do you learn the meaning of errors? Are they useful signals or just sources of distress? Do you celebrate the errors of others (and I don’t mean gloat!) so their experiences are seen as useful and valuable by everyone?

    My questions: Has anyone linked protovation to self-efficacy (Bandura) and error-training (Michael Frese)?

    7 Open authorship

    “creating content for public consumption and modification”

    Restated: Do you write, speak, make videos, etc. for other people? Do you expect them to take what you use and change it (mash it)? Do you judge your effectiveness by the extent to which your audience uses and changes your ideas?

    My questions: Is this a major aspect of social media? That we expect our ideas to be an input rather than an output or expert opinion? Is expecting a reply rather than approval or disapproval the major behavioral shift of our time?

    8 Signal/noise management

    “filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from massively multiple streams of data”

    Restated: Have you set up your data streams so that you receive information from many, many sources? Have you set up your data streams so that you can detect repetition (without checking our original sources), speculation, rumor? Are you interested in how information is passed around the world on matters that interest you? Do you streams allow you the benefit of serendipty? Have you got people (lots and lots) to consult when you are stuck?

    My questions: How much have these skills changed from the checking of provenance taught in universities? How much can we transfer skills from one domain to another?

    What have I still got to learn?

    9 Longbroading

    “thinking in terms of higher level systems, cycles, the big picture”

    Restated: Having a “helicopter view” and seeing a problem from different perspectives have long been valued business skills. This seems to go further – to understand a situation in terms of its dynamics

    My questions: If I am correct, then we need to see situations in terms of their feedback loops? And is this an important skill that kids learn when they work out different ways of playing a game?

    10 Emergensight

    “the ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity”

    Spot unexpected patterns as they pop up, and be ready to take advantage of them – even when systems scale in size and messiness.

    Restated: Do you look of for the way a pattern unfolds? Do you look for changes in speed as well – from the lull before the storm to the tempest that will blow itself out? Do you look for small levers that have huge impacts?

    My questions: Is this improvisation? Are we talking about good reaction times, or understanding complex dynamics?

    Hat-tip to NLabNetworks and Andrea Saveri of the Institute of the Future who spoke at the recent NLabNetworks meeting at Leicester.

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    Dreaming 2.0

    I stumbled this site.  You can look your dreams, tag them, and look at similar dreams from others.

    Excellent site to put your anxieties and dreams in perspective.

    UPDATE: This is also an example of crowd-sourced psychology, semantic web and visualization.

    David Whyte

    David Whyte :  Born in Yorkshire, of Irish descent, David Whyte is a marine biologist, NGO worker, turned poet who writes about our relationship with work

    He is a little guarded about his poetry but you can find  odd snippets on the web. If you haven’t encountered his work, I recommend you buy his CD, Midlife and the Great Unknown.

    I’ve added a link to his wide range of works on Amazon and listed other posts on this blog related to his work.

    LINKS TO OTHER POSTS ON THIS BLOG:

    Your frontiers

    How our earlier training as psychologists inhibits our understanding of positive psychology

    Priorities and goals

    The Desiderata

    Importance of recreation

    Tough concepts in positive psychology: Whose competence is being tested in an interview

    Deciding what to do is the hard part. Doing it is the easy part

    Hope and the great chasm

    Synergy is undervalued

    Putting Humpty back together again is the psychologist’s challenge

    The Sun – David Whyte

    Belonging

    Is this a new poem by David Whyte?

    Great quotations

    Distance lends enchantment to the view

    Consider your career shift this weekend!

    David Whyte on YouTube

    5 poetic steps for exiting a Catch 22!

    5 point comparison of Hero’s Journey, Appreciative Inquiry, and Positive Psychology

    4 steps to defining the work of a positive, playful, work psychologist!

    Is engendering curiosity a pertinent goal for positive psychology?

    The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness

    Buzzing with expectation

    Uni degree.  Then what?

    Essential HR in the recession

    Psychologists, 2009AD, recession, life

    Frazzled? Get a one line job description

    Where will you be when this recession ends?

    Awakening: A new era begins

    We do know how to deal with the unknown

    Poets advice for surviving the financial crisis

    From anger to effective action

    Overcome your fear in 3 steps

    3 steps when goals seem out of our reach

    3 steps to head off burnout

    UPDATE:  I’m happy to add some downloads here linking the poetry, particularly of David Whyte, to contemporary management. Removed.

    I am currently reading The Heart Aroused.  I really recommend it as a an overview of modern views on management.  If you mean to get into positive organizational scholarship or positive psychology or the Edge Economy and networked competing supply chains, crowd-sourced solutions and cognitive surplus, you need to read this book.