How to Harness the Power of "We"

By Martin Haworth
Martin Haworth

sprint; crowd

You are the leader of your team, your department or your organisation. Maybe you are the owner; no one can do the job, run the place like you do. We all know that and have been there.

It's tough. Someone has to do it. You don't get anywhere without hard work. Right?

Period; full stop; whatever.

In fact there is a lot of research now that shows you are wrong. Not just a bit wrong. Horribly wrong.

In The Wisdom of Crowds, Robert Surowiecki shares data from numerous sources. Do you know: if you compare the performance of a team of experts with a team of half experts and half not experts, which gets the best results?

It's the second one.

Also, if you have a bunch of people working on a problem will they find a better solution than just one person. They will. As long as they have the following attributes:

Diversity of Opinion - each has their own private information
Independence - from other decision makers
Decentralisation - can take into account local (and hence diverse from the big picture)
Aggregation - the capacity to bring together all this variety of opinion

A crowd will always generate the best result - even if they are disparate and not connected in any way!

So, back to you. How can you go about getting the best from a group of your people, so that you are not going it alone, struggling through?

Surowiecki found that the wisdom of the crowd holds true in business and organisations as well as elections, marketing, gambling etc. There are dozens of examples in the in the book. Yet, how many organisations truly involve their people in making vital decisions about how the business can do better?

So, as a starter, try:

Next time you face a problem or challenge, gather a group of people - as random a group as possible. Give them these three tools and let them get on with it.

Ensure that they are different, empowered and encouraged to contribute. From the evidence from Surowiecki's book, your people are almost definitely going to produce a better result than you alone ever could. Then you have to go with that flow.

Remember they must generate a solution that works, that doesn't generate new problems and is cost-effective. If you give them their head, it is almost a given that they will do just that.

The challenge for you is not whether they will do well; more that you are willing to let up your own control and give them the opportunity to test their solution.

And that's a big ask for you - not them.

The book is a worthy read too!

For more by and about Martin Haworth, check out his Web site, CoachTrainLearn.com