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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dave Pollard on "The Wisdom Of Crowds" -Part II

Dave Pollard writes , that James Surowiecki who writes the financial column in The New Yorker, was certainly expected to do good research even before his book The Wisdom Of Crowds got published. Dave writes that It is the best-written book that he has read in years - clear, clever, accessible, and jammed full of brilliant, original thinking and compelling, supporting stories and reference.In Part 1, we covered Surowiecki's views on types of problems,and Surowiecki's principal argument that all three types of problems are best solved by canvassing groups (the larger the better) of reasonably informed and engaged people. In this part we shall cover the areas of our daily life that this book can influence.

This book forces you to rethink almost everything you believe. Here are a few of its implications for the things I particularly care about:

• How to Save the World:
• Innovation:
• The Blogosphere:
• Liberal vs. Conservative:
• Expertise Finders
• Knowledge Management

Ultimately, though, it's the well-picked and cleverly-told illustrations and examples, not the theory, that makes The Wisdom of Crowds such a joy to read. When he's describing the ability of a group to accurately pick the number of jellybeans in a jar, or explaining the instinctive coordination 'rules' that allow huge flocks of birds to sweep through the sky as if they were one huge organism, or describing examples of how large groups solve problems brilliantly even when they are not individually or collectively aware of the knowledge they are bringing to bear in doing so, or explaining why we begrudgingly pay taxes until we think the number of cheaters is too high, or why television shows are so awful and why traffic jams occur and how they might be eliminated without reducing the number of cars on the road, Surowiecki is at his best. Buy it, read it more than once, cherish it, think about all it means. This is a profoundly important book.

Dave writes Here are the 25 business problems, any of which could be addressed using this model:

1. How can we improve employee productivity?
2. How can we reduce business/credit/security risk?
3. How can we become more innovative?
4. Should we outsource IT, KM, HR and/or marketing?
5. Which of these new product ideas will be successful?
6. What price should we sell this new or old product for?
7. How will sales/prices be affected by future innovations?
8. How will sales be affected by inflation, int. rates etc?
9. How will material & labour costs change in the future?
10. How can we reduce our fixed costs & overhead?
11. How can we increase our market or customer share?
12. How can we (a) find or (b) keep the best people?
13. Which acquisitions should we make, at what price?
14. How much is our company worth?
15. What service/community wraparounds would work?
16. How much should we be paying staff, management?
17. Which companies should we partner with?
18. Which functions should we centralize, decentralize?
19. How should we penetrate a new market/demographic?
20. How can we increase customer satisfaction/retention?
21. Which suppliers should we use?
22. How can we reduce employee theft, fraud, error?
23. Where are we paying more taxes than we have to?
24. How should we protect our intellectual property?
25. What new businesses should we start, or spin off?

In all an excellent review by Dave about an excellent book exceedingly well written. Must read for all thinking people.
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