Thinking forward: How to plan for the future of your collective intelligence think tank

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All outfits, including collective intelligence think tanks, must grow and expand over time.

This is a sentiment that’s proven true again and again, as the push for a sense of agency in the world is something that every business seeks to tap into.

To have a greater impact is to make a bigger difference, and to make a bigger difference is to enrich the lives of more people throughout the world. This is the mantra of many collectives who seek to push thought boundaries and create knowledge as a positive process-driven think tank.

Yet a phenomenon also seen throughout the world is the drastically short lifespan of the average collective intelligence outfit, a puzzling situation that warrants further investigation.

For many collectives, the ultimate goal is to expand boundaries and venture into the unknown. However, when that unknown becomes known, the drive to go further seems to lessen quickly. Most think tanks either die out or reach their chosen goal and disband over time. The main contributing factor to this seems to be that its members have achieved what they set out to do and now desire to move on to other things.

But why not pass on the torch to those who want to push further?

It must be conceded that unique properties of collective intelligence outfits mean that it can sometimes be hard to add new members to an already fluid and cohesive think tank. Collective outfits are often formed to hit the ground running as an already very effective unit, meaning that outward growth is unnecessary for the majority of their goals.

To put it another way, growth is an afterthought, pushed to the back of the pile in favour of greater pursuits.

But this sentiment is beginning to feel quite dated.

We live in a time where thought leaders are more crucial than ever to the way we make decisions for the betterment of not just ourselves, but those around us.

In this current world climate, we can’t be satisfied with just letting our collective think tanks close up shop once they achieve their goals.

There needs to be a renewed promotion of continued existence for collective intelligence outfits that are making a real difference.

But to achieve this, we need to foster a culture that welcomes new members to join these outfits and continue the great work being done.

To do this properly, there are two clear methods for finding applicable members.

The first is to recruit from the community already surrounding the collective in question. Great think tanks are often followed and supported by a wide variety of experts in the respective field that the outfit exists in. This can make for a great source of likeminded candidates, who are already invested in the outcomes that the collective are pushing for. However, not every community has members that are the right fit for inclusion into a think tank, so choosing carefully is a must in this situation.

The second option is to recruit externally. This allows a collective unit to seek out the ‘best possible’ candidate to either grow or take over their think tank by choosing from a potentially endless pool of professionals. Unlike choosing from their own community however, a collective will have to work much harder to get an outside candidate up to speed with the goals and aspirations of their think tank. Without this investiture, a new addition may lack a sense of agency within the collective and fail to meet expectations over time.

Speaking of the candidate specifically, it’s worth thinking about what to look for in the ‘right’ candidate as well.

What makes a candidate ‘right’ for a position in a collective intelligence outfit is something that can only be truly determined by the pre-existing members of your collective.

But for those unsure about what to look for, think about what your outfit holds as its core values and you’re already on the right track.

It may be inspiration-based action, it may be a willingness to expand how the wider community thinks about collective intelligence.

It may even be a drive to be a thought leader in the outfit’s respective field of expertise. Regardless of what criteria are chosen, make sure that they are core to the inherent qualities of your outfit, and you can’t go wrong in this regard.

But most of all, look to bring on new members who possess a genuine passion for the field of collective intelligence and its continued growth. By fostering a culture of outfits growing and changing hands instead of ceasing to exist, you can continue to build on the amazing work that has already taken place.

This article was originally published in the Mindhive Blog on 25th June, 2020.

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Mindhive | ex — Eidos, Boilerhouse, Basement, Margaret Marr | Speaker, Author | Bringing the shared economy to problem-solving #collectiveintelligence

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