Swarm Theory – 1 way to deal with complex stuff like climate change?

Posted by  admin —September 1, 2008
Filed in Facilitation, How Stuff Spreads & Changes

In this National Geographic article, Thomas Malone of MIT’s new Center for Collective Intelligence says, “No single person knows everything that’s needed to deal with problems we face as a society, such as health care or climate change, but collectively we know far more than we’ve been able to tap so far.” He draws on the success of Google and Wikipedia who simply allow people to ‘think together’ in ways that we never imagined a few decades ago.

The article goes on to say … “Such thoughts underline an important truth about collective intelligence: Crowds tend to be wise only if individual members act responsibly and make their own decisions. A group won’t be smart if its members imitate one another, slavishly follow fads, or wait for someone to tell them what to do. When a group is being intelligent, whether it’s made up of ants or attorneys, it relies on its members to do their own part. For those of us who sometimes wonder if it’s really worth recycling that extra bottle to lighten our impact on the planet, the bottom line is that our actions matter, even if we don’t see how.”

In sum my questions are:

What implications does this knowledge have on the way we facilitate group meetings?

How do we apply this theory when designing behaviour change programs?



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