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  • BozeBlog 3:44 am on April 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , employee engagement, idea management, , , intrapreneur   

    I Want to be Borg / Yearnings for a Collectively Intelligent Enterprise 

    Borg Costume

    Borg Costume

    How great would it be to be part of a collectively intelligent enterprise like The Borg from Star Trek?  My skills would be valued.  I would be engaged in solving problems presented by leadership and management.  I could contribute ideas and help others with theirs.  My unique set of skills would be of benefit and the diversity of the skills of all would bring us to levels of creativity and ability we could not achieve alone.  Leadership would say things to me like “We value you for your distinctiveness and we will add it to our own”.  How would I respond to such a compliment; to such an opportunity?

    I think I would say, “Thank you Borg Queen/CEO.  Thank you for recognizing that I am a distinct individual with a unique set of skills, knowledge, experience, passions and capabilities. Thank you for valuing that distinctiveness and thank you for making good use of it.  I was beginning to think I would never get a chance to use my skills and truly contribute to the hive/company.  In fact, I was thinking of leaving this cube farm but now, I think I shall stay. (See Gallup Study reference below regarding retention1)

    While I am at it, thank you for making available to me all the other distinct individuals with their skills, knowledge and experience.  I have some really big ideas and they aren’t going anywhere without the aid of the right people.  I am sure they feel the same. In fact, I think you will see dramatically improved quality and financial performance by engaging us in this way.  (See Gallup Study reference below regarding financial results 2)

    However, since you value my opinion, I do have some suggestions.  For example, please don’t call me a “drone”. A drone is forced to do the same job day after day without the opportunity for change or recognition.  In retrospect, I’ve spent most of my career as a drone.  Now that you are engaging me for my distinctiveness, I don’t feel like a drone at all.  Please call me an intrapreneur or perhaps, an innovator.

    Next, let us not call my group a “Unimatrix”.  Instead let us call it a Community of Practice or Community of Interest.  Allow these communities to form within traditional silos but also in ways that cut across silos in our organization. That will help us better leverage best practices and develop new ones.  We don’t need to meet in person.  On-line via an Innovation Portal would be more efficient.

    Seven of Nine/Jeri Ryan

    Seven of Nine/Jeri Ryan

    Please do allow me to find and “follow”, via the Innovation Portal, individuals I consider to be thought leaders.  I have lacked a professional development plan that would enable me to be considered in areas of interest to me.  There are some people working in those areas that I would love to support, if only on an unofficial basis at first.   For example, Seven of Nine / Jeri Ryan is awesome even if she has no official rank.  I would love to collaborate with her.  (Note to self. Check with HR whether the alcove next to Jeri is available.)

    Of course, most importantly, challenge me.  Present problems and opportunities to me and my fellow innovators. Present the company goals and strategies and allow we innovators to suggest tactics.   Allow us to collaborate and propose solutions.  Don’t worry about the deluge of feedback.  A good Innovation Portal is designed to organize such feedback.  You, my Borg Queen/CEO, will only hear the best ideas and therefore not be overwhelmed.

    I know what you are concerned about.  With all of this collaboration, I will not have time for my regular duties and you will need to hire additional staff.  Not to worry.  Sadly, 20% of your staff is actively disengaged from their job anyhow. (See reference 3 below.)  So actually, by engaging us, you will finally be getting what you already paid for.

    Finally my Borg Queen/CEO, I am impressed that you are among the many forward thinking leaders that are seeking to create the Collectively Intelligent Enterprise.  However, for those who are not familiar with the concept.  I will invite them to read my next contribution, ‘How to Develop a Collectively Intelligent Enterprise.’ “


    1  2012 Gallup Meta-Analysis shows that companies with high employee engagement experience 25% – 65% lower turnover.

    2 2012 Gallup Meta-Analysis shows that companies with high employee engagement experience

    • 21% higher productivity
    • 22% higher profitability
    • Average margins of 27.4% versus 9.9%
    • 41% fewer defects

    3 2012 Gallup Meta-Analysis and the Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study shows low employee engagement levels.  20% are actively disengaged.  Only 28% are engaged with 54% reporting themselves as only somewhat engaged.

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  • BozeBlog 5:02 am on February 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , idea management, innovators, swarm intelligence   

    The Birds and the Bees and the Innovators 

    The birds and bees conversationThis story of the birds and the bees is not the one you heard as a child, unless perhaps your father is researcher and author Dr. Thomas Seeley.  Still, this one  is almost as amazing.

    How do large collections of individuals make highly intelligent decisions which are more intelligent than any one individual could make?  It is referred to as swarm or collective intelligence and research shows that the way that swarms of bees make decisions is very similar to the way in which the human mind works.  Per Seely, though they’ve evolved independently, bees and humans have “converged on the same basic design which tells us that this is probably the optimal way to do it.”

    The implication to leaders of innovation is the possibility of unlocking the collective intelligence of a company or enterprise in surfacing and developing highly intelligent solutions.

    How Bees Make a Collective Decision:

    Bees are periodically challenged to decide where to relocate their hive.  The process is straight forward and very similar to how leaders of innovation are currently engaging their employees in ideation and collaboration.

    Step 1 – Present a challenge question:   For the bees, the question is, “To where do we relocate our hive?”

    Step 2 – Present the criteria by which a good choice is identified:   For the bees, a good location is large enough to accommodate the hive but has a small opening so as to discourage predators.

    Blue Hive

    Step 3 – Accept ideas/proposals: Initially, scout bees find prospective locations, return to the swarm and communicate the location of their proposed new hive via “the waggle dance”.  The waggle dance points bees in the direction of the proposed site but it serves another purpose as well.

    Step 4 – Voting:  Scout bees, and bees which investigate the site the scouts propose, vote on how suitable they believe the proposal to be.  Three waggles means it is a great site.  Two waggles, means it is not quite so desirable.

    Step 5 – Commenting:  Though not verbally, bees who believe strongly in one site over another have a way of dissuading bees advocating the other location.  While a bee is voting, an opposing bee will head butt the voting bee trying to get them to stop advocating for their proposal.

    Bee VotingStep 6 – Idea Promotion/Selection:  Once a tipping point is reached, the bees have consensus and, as a group, leave for the proposed site which has the greatest number of supporters.

    Amazingly, the researchers find that the sites which the bees choose are indeed the superior sites.  To see this in action, view the nine minute PBS presentation on the Evolution of Intelligence

    How Leaders of Innovation Can Harness Collective Intelligence

    Seemingly by coincidence, in the advent of social work spaces, companies are starting to leverage collective intelligence in a very similar way via Idea Management Systems.  However, just as with your childhood story of the birds and the bees, groups of people do this just a bit differently.

    Commenting in a human context is of course much richer with comments creating opportunities for collaboration where ideas are improved.

    Selection criteria are more faceted and comments ideally speak to the degree to which selection criteria are satisfied or how an idea can be modified to better satisfy the criteria.

    Voting can take multiple forms such as thumbs up/down, five star, bingo chip and others.

    Most notably, idea promotion has multiple stages.  The crowd of participants culls through the initial surge of ideas promoting the most promising ideas via their means of voting.  The ideas which are promoted are then evaluated by an expert panel which more rigorously applies the selection criteria in an on-line manner.  Once the expert panel has culled the list of ideas further, typically a selection committee makes a final determination regarding which ideas to pursue.

    Results of this approach are impressive taking advantage of the diversity of talent, experience and knowledge of the crowd.  While some individuals have sparks of inspiration, they are often not equipped to flesh out an idea.  Others excel in collaboration and idea development while others with deep experience can provide cautions based upon problematic attempts in the past.  Finally, many are good at identifying promising ideas voting and culling the many ideas down to a promising few thereby not overwhelming an always taxed group of experts.

    To leaders of innovation who continue to “go it alone” based upon their sole intelligence and inspiration; caution.  Many have gone this way in the past but out of necessity.  With the advent of collaborative work spaces, it is no longer necessary.  At a minimum, pass your idea by the collective and see if it will fly.

    For a demonstration of human collective intelligence via an Idea Management System, contact CrowdPowered.

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