The Wisdom of the Crowd

The twenty-first century will see collective wisdom and peer-to-peer collaboration change the world as much as computers and increased communication changed the world in the twentieth century. While intellectual property is still a valid concept and will continue to live on, the businesses that will thrive in the years to come will be those that learn to treat their proprietary information more liberally and allow and encourage others to share, access, modify and improve it. The underlying theory is that there are smarter people in your field outside of your company or organization than inside it and ignoring that fact would be foolish. Even for a company that possessed the most esteemed expert in a certain field, such expert’s body of knowledge is still inferior to the knowledge of 100 other experts in the same field, even if they are deemed to be lesser experienced on an individual basis.

This notion of open source has existed in the software industry for decades, but we will soon see the same idea across all industries, technologies, businesses and cultures. There are more than six billion people in the world and those smart enough to tap into the collective body of knowledge, talent, wisdom, training and experience will survive. A growing marketplace for problems and their specific solutions is just now effectively forming that will change the world and the traditional business model we have grown accustomed to. If you are seeking a solution for which you have no idea how to resolve, let the crowd solve it for you via InnoCentive, Yahoo or Wiki Answers or elance, among many others. In an effort to apply this concept, Senator McCain is promising anyone $300 million (in taxpayer dollars) if they can find an energy source other than fossil fuels to power cars. Sure, the government could establish a team to work on resolving such an issue, but the best solution will come from the collective body of scientists as a whole. Hopefully those working on Senator McCain’s challenge will share knowledge and science as opposed to forming secret groups afraid to share their progress or intellectual property, which is how many businesses still function. Believe me, the understanding of collaboration and the open sourcing of everything will change how we work together and ultimately the world.


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