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An article in todays NY Times about a scientific study into the swarm intelligence of ants and how humans need to evolve to learn how to work together better in large numbers to solve problems:


Thought provoking. I think I personally stand somewhere in the middle. I feel that you still need that one visionary at the helm that has the will and the clout to push though new ideas, but they still need a well rounded support team. In todays world there is simply to much information and innovation is collaborative; however, I feel that pure network creativity isn't sustainable in a corporate environment. At least not today. Like you said people love to have that one name they can buy to turn around their fortunes and these so called BIG names can cut through a lot of the politicking BS that 13 quite good guys may not be able too.

my 2 cents


At the recent Connection Planning conference, Lisa Seward spoke of her vision of "connections planning" as one that facilitates collaboration and invention.
In my mind, this can mean a protocol to bring in a broader range of creative input and problem-solving strategies, guided by constant collaboration. Or, a way to get 13 smart guys to solve problems as oppposed to one?

Incidentally, to take this back to the dreaded "is blogging killing planning" debate, I think that the planning weblogs/sphere is a great example of the kind of invention that comes from a lot of people chipping in with different points of view.

Being smart and/or talented is one thing. Education is another, and last not but not least, it's really matters how lazy we are. Lazy - in terms of sticking to the same thinking patterns we are used to...

Personally, I believe that the great advances of perception will come when the right single genius re-visits the "boring" work of 13 smart guys

I found your post after I'd done an almost identical (but less in-depth) version...arriving at a similar conclusion. Having thought about it a bit more, I wonder if there are "faster experts" (i.e. reach a level of expertise quicker in say 5,000 hours) as well as "slower experts" who may take longer to get to that level of ability. I'm not suggesting that one is better than the other, but rather that a team at work may be complemented by fast experts and slow experts.

For a slightly more cynical view on how much ingenuity is required to solve the world's problems, read Thomas Homer-Dixon's The Ingenuity Gap.

It's been out for a few years, but still relevant, methinks.


I think you have it wrong. Fermat's theorem was solved by 13 geniuses. Wiles, Ribet, et al. are not some random ragtag collection of merely "smart" mathematicians. They are brilliant AND willing to focus for years AND willing to collaborate.

Anyone who tries to make the case that the work by Wiles et al. didn't require genius probably doesn't understand the proof at all. (Which I hardly blame them for!)

Yes, I'm sure 13 smart guys can work together and achieve a lot. But 13 geniuses can do even better. Somehow there's this weird meme out there that the choices are between one lone genius and a group of smart people; but in the modern world the geniuses can band together in a group too.

Read this article and it reminded me of the ideas from this post http://www.nytimes.com/idg/IDG_002570DE00740E18002573D3004E99BB.html?ref=technology seems like a long time ago now but guess there's no expiration date on good ideas or blogs!

My first comment on a blog too so seems like a good idea to hide it in history.

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