Getting the most out of your groups

My recent discussion about the value of small groups made me appreciate this list of ways to get the best out of crowds.

  1. Crowds should operate within constraints. To harness the collective intelligence of crowds, there need to be rules in place to maintain order.
  2. Not everything can be democratic. Sometimes a decision needs to be made, and having a core team (or single person) make the ultimate decision can provide the guidance necessary to get things done and prevent crazy ideas and groupthink from wreaking havoc on your product.
  3. Crowds must retain their individuality. Encourage your group to disagree, and try not to let any members of the group disproportionately influence the rest.
  4. Crowds are better at vetting content than creating it. It is important to note that in most of the above projects, the group merely votes on the final product; they do not actually create it.

It’s surprising how many people believe that starting down the path of community engagement means a wholesale turnover of your business plan to a crazy mob. Outside the box is only relevant when you’re actually contained inside a larger box.