Everyone is talking about smart factories, smart cities, smart cars; which is all being fuelled by Industry 4.0 and the internet of things bringing about greater connectivity. 

The focus, of course is on automation and digital and making all our machines smarter, but in a business setting does this make your teams smarter? 

Many would argue it does because we now have access to all the data we need in order to make meaningful decisions, but is this always the case? Too many companies are still failing, and some of these are large corporates such as the quake suffered by Carillion’s demise, and it’s not all down to the economic climate, or Brexit, or consumer mores; a lot of it can be laid at the door of poor decision making somewhere along the line.

Companies seem to grow, and then reach a certain point where they somehow lose their way.  The strategy and decision making process becomes harder as the business becomes more complex or it’s left by the wayside altogether as the focus of the business drifts in a different direction.

What some of the spectacularly failed companies probably forgot to do is understand and appreciate the assets they had within the business when it comes to knowledge and expertise. But perhaps more importantly, they failed to harness the diversity of knowledge they had. 

What do we mean by diversity of knowledge? 

Diversity of knowledge is a repository of all the skills, experience, expertise, and knowledge that few companies tap into fully. The structure of companies, especially those that are growing quite rapidly, tends to be rigid and compartmentalized. Functions and departments are organized into silos, and unless there is a very strong internal communication strategy, thinking can become insular and the departments and divisions don’t operate as one high performing team.

In Peter Miller’s excellent book: Smart Swarm, he gives clear examples of how effective harnessing diversity of knowledge can be by looking at studies of honey bees.  When evaluating new potential sites to swarm to honey bees work so efficiently that they always choose the optimum site – working collaboratively they make smart decisions, and thus avoid making costly mistakes. After all, choosing a poor site for their next nest could have catastrophic consequences and jeopardize the whole hive. 

It was found that the bees seek the best solution by drawing on the knowledge of hundreds of scouts that go out several times to inspect potential new sites. The information they relay back is then evaluated and scored by the hive as a whole, and, through a series of steps (or dances in this case) a consensus is arrived at. This also involves a process of elimination of the poorer sites until the bees all agree on the site that will be the best one for their needs.

From the studies Miller argues that the lessons learned from the swarms’ success are:

Seek a diversity of knowledge Encourage a friendly competition of ideas Use effective mechanisms to narrow choices

Tapping into the diversity of knowledge in your business

OpusView has been designed with human collaborators in mind. At IdeasCast we understand human nature and how teams operate, and the bee analogy really struck a chord with us.  One of the fundamental principles of OpusView is a platform that gives you a full stack of function-rich tools that enables you to harness all the positive aspects of high performing teams: collaborative, social and intuitive decision-making and problem-solving across multiple departments and teams – wherever they are in the world. Yes, it really is that powerful.

From concept and ideation through to voting on ideas and projects, OpusView will make your company as smart as a hive of bees. And we all know how smart and industrious bees are.