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Decision accuracy in complex environments is often maximized by small group sizes

Individuals in groups, whether composed of humans or other animal species, often make important decisions collectively, including avoiding predators, selecting a direction in which to migrate and electing political leaders. Theoretical and empirical work suggests that collective decisions can be more accurate than individual decisions, a phenomenon known as the ‘wisdom of crowds’.

[...] Our results demonstrate that the conventional view of the wisdom of crowds may not be informative in complex and realistic environments, and that being in small groups can maximize decision accuracy across many contexts.


Via Complexity Digest, Philippe Vallat
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Paul Kroeger's curator insight, May 1, 2014 9:26 AM

The Couzin lab (Princeton) is focused on 'group animal behavior,' and although this paper isn't available directly, the title made me wonder if the observations might apply to the way we make decisions in what is certainly a complex environment...  Perhaps worth a read...

Damien Thouvenin's curator insight, May 3, 2014 5:58 AM

Deux chercheurs de l'université de Princeton démontent la soi-disant "sagesse des foules" et montrent que, si l'intelligence collective d'un petit groupe produit de meilleurs résultats que le travail individuel, ceci est en revanche faut pour de grands groupes. La diversité des points de vue et des sensibilités d'un petit groupe tend à filtrer le "bruit" environnant tandis qu'il est amplifié par une foule.

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Our Self-Inflicted Complexity

Our Self-Inflicted Complexity | Wise Leadership | Scoop.it

Our ability to make progress against large-scale problems requires that we figure out how to tackle inter-domain complexity writes Roger Martin. The HBR blog post is part of a series of perspectives on complexity leading up to this year's Global Drucker Forum. 


Via Kenneth Mikkelsen
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Kenneth Mikkelsen's curator insight, September 6, 2013 7:24 PM

The series of perspectives on complexity can be found here: 



If you don't hold a subscription to HBR you can also find the articles (free access) via the Drucker Forum blog here


David Hain's curator insight, September 7, 2013 4:29 AM

Good blog and great suggestions from Kenneth.  Figuring this out and socialising the skills is a great 21st Century challenge!

luiy's curator insight, January 17, 2014 9:29 AM

My own clan — the economists — is particularly inclined in this direction. There are a thousand economists working on partial equilibrium problems for every one working on a general equilibrium problem. This is despite the fact that no one would contest that general equilibrium clarity is the most valuable knowledge by far. Why? Because it is really difficult to specify any general equilibrium cause-and-effect relationships.

 

Instead, most of the guns deployed in modern knowledge advancement are aimed at narrow problems for which the cause-and-effect relationship is specified with the famous “all other things being equal” proviso. Each narrow knowledge domain develops analytical tool-sets that deepen the narrow knowledge domain. Each narrow domain develops ever more algorithmic knowledge, and those developing the knowledge are extremely confident that they are right because they are so specialized within their own domain. The liver expert is completely confident that he or she is correct even if it is the interaction with another condition that threatens your health most.

This approach has created another kind of complexity: inter-domain complexity. Every field is segmented into multiple domains, each with deep algorithmic knowledge, specialized tools, and experts in the domain who think they are absolutely right. And they are indeed right, as long as we ignore the reality of detail complexity.

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James B. Glattfelder: Who controls the world?

James Glattfelder studies complexity: how an interconnected system -- say, a swarm of birds -- is more than the sum of its parts. And complexity theory, it turns out, can reveal a lot about how the economy works. Glattfelder shares a groundbreaking study of how control flows through the global economy, and how concentration of power in the hands of a shockingly small number leaves us all vulnerable.


Via Complexity Digest, Spaceweaver, Philippe Vallat
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Managing Complexity: The Battle Between Emergence And Entropy

Managing Complexity: The Battle Between Emergence And Entropy | Wise Leadership | Scoop.it

The business news continues to be full of stories of large companies getting into trouble in part because of their complexity. 

 

So what is a leader to do when faced with a highly complex organisation and a nagging concern that the creeping costs of complexity are starting to outweigh the benefits?


Via Kenneth Mikkelsen, Ricard Lloria
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Olivier Arnould's curator insight, December 1, 2013 3:40 AM

Une approche intéressante des organisations...

luiy's curator insight, January 17, 2014 9:34 AM

1. There is a design process –the allocation of roles and responsibilities through some sort of top-down master plan. We all know how this works.

 

2. There is an emergent process – a bottom-up form of spontaneous interaction between well-intentioned individuals, also known as self-organising. This has become very popular in the field of management, in large part because it draws on insights from the world of nature, such as the seemingly-spontaneous order that is exhibited by migrating geese and ant colonies. Under the right conditions, it seems, individual employees will come together to create effective coordinated action. The role of the leader is therefore to foster “emergent” order among employees without falling into the trap of over-engineering it.

 

3. Finally, there is an entropic process – the gradual trending of an organisational system towards disorder. This is where it gets a bit tricky. The disciples of self-organising often note that companies are “open systems” that exchange resources with the outside world, and this external source of energy is what helps to renew and refresh them. But the reality is that most companies are only semi-open. In fact, many large companies I know are actually pretty closed to outside influences. And if this is the case, the second law of thermodynamics comes into effect, namely that a closed system will gradually move towards a state of maximum disorder (i.e. entropy).

 

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Innovation, Complexity and Social Business

Innovation, Complexity and Social Business | Wise Leadership | Scoop.it

We live in an age where emergent technologies continue to have massive effects on business and society. Rising complexity requires companies and economies to cope with increasingly interlocking systems.

 

 


Via Philippe Vallat
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Peter Francis's curator insight, May 4, 2013 8:51 PM

Very good simple must read