Intelligent and Relevant Corporate Democracy
“Collective intelligence is the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration.”
It has always struck me as interesting that proper communication can effectively solve so many of the woes we experience, yet communication breakdowns and failures continue to plague relationships worldwide. Whether it is within the enterprise or individually, proper communication techniques can solve so much more than relational barriers, it can save money, prevent accidents, and avert serious disaster. I had a funny experience with improper communication techniques a few years ago while dating a particularly striking Canadian girl.
We were looking to make our monthly trek out to Magog, Quebec to visit her grandparents. Before we were able to start our drive, we needed to pick up a package from my at the time girlfriend’s aunt. Her aunt was at a bar in downtown Toronto and the plan was to have her run inside the bar and grab the package. I pulled up across the street from the bar, she got out of the car, and I watched a very interesting situation unfold.
Being that this was a Friday night and we were in a popular bar district, there were copious amounts of young people perusing the streets looking for the local hot spot. As I watched her cross the street, I noticed a large SUV rollin’ deep on 22” rims quickly slow down to take a gander at the pretty girl. I began to smile, taking pride in the beauty of my girlfriend. That smile turned into a laugh as I listened to the driver and passengers of this SUV begin to shout some form of profane and pathetic pick-up lines at her. She flashed a smile at them and then gave them the finger. Not the middle finger, but the index finger pointing at the car that had quickly stopped in front of the driver. Imagine my contentment as we watched the driver of the SUV careen into the rear end of the car in front of it.
There are so many lessons to be learned from that situation. A failed communication technique leading to disaster for some and satisfaction for others.
Besides the obvious, one of the best lessons to be learned is the driver’s failure to include the group in his decision to holler. Had he consulted with his cabal of verbal assassins, they might have decided that it may be a poor choice to continue moving forward while waiting for a response from the pretty girl crossing the street. Or they might have told him to pay attention to the road. The silence of the collective intelligence proved to have disastrous consequences.
"…much of what we’ve seen so far suggests that a large group of diverse individuals will come up with better and more robust forecasts and make more intelligent decisions than even the most skilled ‘decision maker.’"
Author, The Wisdom of the Crowds
The idea that the intelligence of the traditionally poorly stigmatized mob is greater than that of the individual is fantastic! There is an emerging thought process proclaiming the virtues of enabling the people and connecting the individual. Just look at companies like Worldblu that promote the ideology and methods of democracy in the workplace. They see the wisdom of the many.
The wisdom of the crowd overruling that of the few has wide application within enterprise. Often times the social intelligence of the employees in an organization should influence the driver of the company, but silence prevails. And the rest of the community suffers at the hands of the driver. The suffering manifests in so many different ways: dissatisfaction, separation from leadership, lack of innovation, distrust and ultimately less revenue and higher turnover. Couple that with stagnant growth, a poor economy, and job insecurity and you’ve got yourself a cocktail for stress.
So who is accountable? Do employees accept responsibility for failure in business? Or does leadership?
Corporations are quickly seeking for solutions to bridge the communication gap through technology.
Employees need to do their part by pressing for greater transparency and communication practices between leadership and more importantly between each other.
Transparency and accountability lead to proper communication. Proper communication doesn’t stifle innovation. It breeds it. And innovation is the driver of success.