Mob Rule or Collective Intelligence?
By Danuta McCall

Posted April 22, 2009

One of the sites on our blogroll is the Enterprise 2.0 blog. This blog offers news and commentary from a variety of industry watchers and analysts, mostly about the technical and commercial, but occasionally the social, aspects of online collaboration. OK, it’s not really for the technically faint of heart, but if you hang in there you will get a feel for the Web 2.0 landscape. And there are occasional discussions about organizational issues that surround any change in the way we work. For example, this one:

What if a Mob Ruled Your Company?
Mike Gotta, a well-known analyst of the collaboration marketplace, ponders how Web 2.0 tools like Digg might ultimately affect the core process of management decision-making. Traditional decision-making is typically top-down. What if there were a “digital rebellion” on the part of the employee population, a democratic up swelling of sorts, powered by these populist web tools? He points out that the collective intelligence within networks of people who are close to the problem might be valuable and on the mark. How do you pay attention to the “voice of the crowd” without inviting chaos? Gotta posits that the line between “mob rule” and “collective intelligence” is razor thin.

How indeed? In order to make use of this collective intelligence, there would need to be a facilitated process for organizational discussion, into which the collective buzz and ideas from the knowledge groundswell would flow. Being in the facilitated discussion business, I envision all these ideas funneling into a structured discussion tool, which allows“moderators” to organize and prioritize the ideas, surface the most interesting ones and move the discussion forward into problem solving and solution building. The technical challenges of pulling this off are probably far less daunting than the behavioral and procedural ones.

Posted by Danuta McCall