Sunday, March 13, 2005

Diversity of Voice: The Wisdom of Crowds

In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki is describing the early automotive business where there were over 100 car company start-ups and the diversity of that marketplace helped spur innovation.

"The legendary organizational theorist James C. March put it like this, "The development of knowledge may depend on maintaining an influx of the naive and the ignorant, and ...competitive victory does not reliably go to the properly educated."

The reason, March suggested, is that groups that are too much alike find it harder to keep learning, because each member is bringing less and less new information to the table." [my bold font]

and later Surowiecki writes:

"Suggesting that the organization with the smartest people may not be the best organization is heretical, particularly in a business world caught up in a ceaseless "war for talent" and governed by the assumption that a few superstars can make the difference between an excellent and a mediocre company."