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How to Avoid Micromanagement with Swam Intelligence

How to Avoid Micromanagement with Swam Intelligence
From Lifehack - April 9, 2018

Have you ever wondered how a flock of birds interact so brilliantly? Or how ants and termites build fascinating colonies?

More importantly, have you ever wondered how your organization could mimic a flock of birds or an ant colony to create a thriving organization without having to micro-manage every little detail?

What is Swarm Intelligence?

First introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989, swarm intelligence is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, for which social insects are one of the best examples.

Swarm intelligence is an attempt to design algorithms or distributed problem-solving devices intended to mimic the collective behavior of social insect colonies.1

Essentially, swarm intelligence improves our collective behaviors (our outputs).

Derek and Laura Cabrera, systems theorists and professors at Cornell University compare this to a game of chess in Flock Not Clock,

The game of chess has simple enough rules for a child to master, yet there are 318 billion possible ways to play the first four moves. The behaviors (or outputs) of systemsbe they a flock of starlings or biodiversity writ large, chess matches or organizationsare emergent properties of simple rules at the local level. By identifying, understanding, and applying these simple rules, we can make the outputs better.

Lets look at an example of how these simple rules work for an ant colony:

Simple rules outlined by the Cabreras allow social insects (such as ants) to become a superorganism. These simple rules are as follows:2

How to identify simple rules that work

The Cabreras have defined four simple and deeply connected rules that apply in all types of organizations: Vision (V), Mission (M), Capacity (C), Learning (L).

Why Swarm Intelligence matters to your team

Dr. Louis Rosenberg (founder of Unanimous AI) informs us that we (as individuals) are smart, yet as a group we are even smarterwe are able to amplify our intelligence.

A brain is a system of neurons so deeply interconnected that an intelligence forms. A swarm is a system of brains so deeply interconnected that a super-intelligence forms. Simply put, a swarm is a brain of brains and it can be smarter than any individual member.Dr. Louis Rosenberg

In Human Swarming and the future of Collective Intelligence, Rosenberg discusses the potential of human swarming. He writes,3

If we consider the leap in intelligence between an individual ant and a full ant colony working as one, can we expect the same level of amplification as we go from single individual humans to an elevatedhyper-mindthat emerges from real-time human swarming?

So, can humans swarm?

Yes.

How can humans swarm?

According to Rosenberg, technology is the key. Humans can swarm only if we develop technologies that fill in missing pieces of evolution that hasnt yet been provided.4

Rosenberg developed a platform allowing swarms of online users to make decisions and answer questions together by moving a graphical puck. The puck is generated by a central server and modeled as a real-world physical system.

Watch the following video to see how this platform works:

How I Swarm the classroom (a case study)

I have recently examined some of the innovative ways educators try to improve the learning environment. One such way is through flipping the classroom. This is a teaching pedagogy which reverses old classroom teaching through a form of blended learning using modern technology and practical application.5

While a flipped classroom is an excellent approach to education, I feel as though we need to take it a step further and allow the classroom to flip itself and emerge on its own. Our classroom should be a complex adaptive system (CAS) with no set leader. It should use simple rules to guide it.

I am currently using the following simple rules for an online course I teach at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kansas: 6

Rule #1. Students interact locally with each other in a decentralized environment.

I use a free decision-making software called Loomio that allows my students to move past the typically discussion board thread. My students use Loomio as a launching point for the creation of systems diagrams/maps.

I also use Loomio to build a complex adaptive syllabus by proposing or collaborating on decision tools within Loomio.

Rule #2. Students analyze and synthesize concepts and share mental models, increasing the collective knowledge of the group.

Using the Cabreras DSRP Theory-Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives, my students are able to break apart concepts and put them back together using two powerful platforms (also developed by the Cabreras!).

First, my class uses Thinkquiryto help them develop and ask questions that penetrate deeper into a concept. They use these guiding questions to start breaking apart and rebuilding a concept.

Second, my students then use Plectica to break apart and rebuild concepts. My students build concept maps using Plectica (freeI use it daily!) by visually organizing parts that can be combined and connected to each other to form a more complete picture.

How to use Swarm Intelligence to make your team strive (Step-by-step guide)

1. Identify your goal

2. Document reality

3. Use simple rules to collaborate and automate

Step 4. Use simple rules to collaborate and automate

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