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For Innovators, There Is Brainpower in Numbers

When I first read Wisdom of the Crowds, I came away with an appreciation of collaboration that starts with individuality. Let me explain. The examples of crowds used throughout the book emphasis personal contribution that adds to the whole, but is not subsumed by the whole. Collaboration involves individuals contributing their unique perspectives, not a type of faceless mob with an identity all its own. The individual view of collaboration has always been an issue for me in using wikis. Wikis overwrite individual contributions (sure, you can look at the history and find who contributed what, but that’s not very useful). In For Innovators, There Is Brainpower in Numbers, NYTimes – one of those newspapers not yet filing for bankruptcy – looks at the difficulty in “thinking together”: “Traditionally, brainstorming revolves around the false premise that to get good ideas, a group must generate a large list from which to cherry-pick. But researchers have shown repeatedly that individuals working alone generate more ideas than groups acting in concert…The best innovations occur when you have networks of people with diverse backgrounds gathering around a problem.”

One Comment

  1. Gary Lewis wrote:

    Hi George – Just checking. Is this post at all related to your next one on “What shall we do with higher education?” Are you suggesting that “the best innovations occur when you have networks of people with diverse backgrounds gathering around a problem” like what to do with higher education? Sounds intriguing.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 8:04 am | Permalink

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