In the "Bubble" - Creating Collective Intelligence


Too often decisions in organizations are made by a single decision-maker with an incomplete set of the available information. These decision-making methods have evolved to deal with slowly changing environments and often use personal or organizational rules of thumb (heuristics).

In the past, these methods have been considered "good-enough" given that in a slow changing environment efficient rules may be discovered and incrementally improved based on actual learnings and experience.

In a world of increasing global competition where change in rapid and discontinuous, there is insufficient time for experiential learning to occur. Further, increasing complexity and the demands of increasing competition require that decisions be based on the knowledge obtained from all parts of the organization and from many different disciplines and must consider the interactions between these disciplines.

In this new environment, new methods for decision-making are required. Given that change is too rapid for effective experiential learning to occur, such methods must be forward looking and consider many possible futures, encompassing alternative courses of actions and possible disturbances in the external environment. By doing so we are able to develop what Arie de Geus (1) has called a "memory of the future" and to test and discover rules that work best under these alternative futures.

To achieve this, in an environment where multiple knowledge experts must provide consistent and interrelated projections, requires fundamentally different systems architectures and processes that will stretch existing computer resources. The systems must provide the organizational memory of the future that enhances and draws on the organizational memory of the past that are the foundation of current enterprise systems.

Most importantly these systems must encourage knowledge workers to develop this collective memory of the future, to do this they must go beyond simple collaboration and employ a process we call



Creating cointeractive business processes requires the integration of the learning culture of the organisation with the systems and architecture it employs in ways that are aligned with the context of a particular business environment.  This integration needs to consider and address the level of competition, regulation, rate of change and current culture to find a solution that fits the future of a particular organisation.

Transitioning a corporate culture is not just a matter of implementing a new software system or facilitating team interactions differently.  Such a transition needs to consider the ways in which people work together now, the objectives they are working towards and the systems they are using and provide leverage where it is most needed. 

We believe that to truly achieve collective intelligence and to fully leverage cointeractive work processes, organisations need to transition both their learning culture and their business infrastructure to create a new architecture that provides a collective memory of the future in the same way that database applications have provided us with a collective memory of the past and effective ways of interacting with this. 

(1) Arie De Geus, The Living Company, Harvard Business School Press, 1997