Understanding Connected Intelligence

MIT acknowledged the importance of connected intelligence in October 2006, when it launched the Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) http://cci.mit.edu/ . Lead by “Future of Work” author Tom Malone (2004), its goal is understanding how to harness the power of large numbers of people—connected together through Internet and other technologies—to better solve a range of business, scientific, and societal problems (Malone, 2006). CCI research aims to make collective intelligence a topic of serious academic study to discover how people and computers can be connected to collectively act more intelligently than any individual, group, or computer has ever acted before (Malone, 2006). “New technologies are now making it possible to organize groups in very new ways, in ways that have never been possible before in the history of humanity. And no one yet understands how to take advantage of these possibilities” (Malone 2006:17).

We prefer “connected intelligence”, as used by Metcalfe in his September 2006 speech CONSIDER A LINK TO THIS HERE. Why? To reflect our experience that to create value in organizations just using networked electronic technology to “collect intelligences” is insufficient. Productive “connected intelligence” and adaptive learning also demands organizations structured to support collaboration rather than impede interaction and knowledge flow. I DO NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND THIS PARAGRAPH.

Open Communication and Collaboration Essential for Knowledge Creation

As early as 1938, John Dewey’s lecture to Kappa Delta Pi (International Honor Society for Education) stressed the importance of “serious co-operative work” (Dewey 1938, p. 90) in education. The Fifth Discipline (1990) IS THIS THE MOST CURRENT DATE? author Peter Senge, a pioneer in Organizational Learning, warned that the hierarchical business model no longer works in today’s complex, dynamic and global organizations. Rather, he believed that open communication, collaboration, continuous generative, and adaptive learning would be critical to organizational survival (O’Brien, 1999).

What is new is the power “connected intelligence” brings to organizational learning by leveraging the intersection of technology, collective intelligences, and organizational structures to enable successful implementation. (O’Brien, 1999).

Introducing a new edition of The Fifth Discipline in March 2006, Senge pinpoints the changes that have taken place in the intervening 15 years. He notes “organizations are becoming more networked, which is weakening traditional management hierarchies and potentially opening up new capacity for continual learning, innovation and adaptation” (2006, p. xvi) CAN THESE 3 PARAGRAPHS IN THIS SCETION BE DEVELOPED MORE AND TIED TOGETHER MORE CLEARLY? I AM NOT SURE AS TO THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE REST OF THE PAGE.

Connected Intelligence Works through Human Networks

Julian Orr’s 1990’s observations of Xerox technicians collaboratively solving problems and learning from each other (Orr, 1996) left no doubt that work and learning are social and one. However, in the last decade the growing use of organizational network analysis (ONA) IS ONA A COMMON ABBREVIATION? has increased our understanding of just how knowledge flows between individuals and increases organizational learning and how intervening to change the human network connections can foster innovation and increase productivity. Studying people networks in organization provides a lens to view and facilitate connecting intelligences for enhanced organizational learning. CONSIDER EXPLAINING MORE ABOUT SNA OR ONA

Research conducted by members of the University of Virginia’s Network Roundtable reveals the range of ways connecting intelligences works in organizations. Rob Cross, co-author of the Hidden Power of Social Networks (Cross & Parker, 2003) oversees studies applying network analysis to understand and enhance Innovation and Top Line Revenue Growth; Client Connectivity and Sales Force Effectiveness; Large Scale Change and Post Merger Integration; Talent Management/Leadership Development and Strategy Execution/Alignment, all of which extend the application of network analysis to business imperatives (Mulliner, pending) CONGRATS ON THE PENDING ARTICLE, KIKI. CONSIDER THE NOTATION FOR THIS; IS IT PENDING ACCEPTANCE OR REVIEW OR WRITING OR WHATNOT, SOME OF WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE LISTED HERE.

In support of Senge’s suspicion that hierarchical structures are not effective for organizational learning CONSIDER REFERENCE HERE, Morrison, Tenkasi and Mohrman (2003) conducted a study examining eight organisations and how social networks impacted their ability to implement change. They found that hierarchical information sharing networks were not effective in creating knowledge needed to adapt to change while informal cross-functional networks were.

Conducting an ONA on an organization undergoing reorganization Anklam, Cross and Gulas (2005) revealed the restructure proceeded in a collaborative, flexible way. Their findings included two key points: first that learning occurs in the transfer and creation of knowledge, but only if people are aware of the skills and knowledge other network members have, and second that a lack of social relationships is a barrier to learning but can be changed and measured by an organization (Anklam 2005).

Of course, just because people are connected doesn’t guarantee they will innovate, solve problems, or create new knowledge. Research by Cross & Borgatti (2003) collecting social network data indicates that simply connecting people may not promote learning, but beyond that, people also need to know and value what members of their network know and have timely access to them.

These findings suggest that organisations undergoing change (every organisation, every day) may benefit from enabling networks to self-create and self-direct to support the learning necessary to ensure a successful transition. While attention to the importance of connecting multiple intelligences isn’t new, what’s emerging in the learning space is the rapid advancement of collaboration technologies driving the expectation of greater use of collective intelligences yet new networked organizational structures or designs have not kept pace to enable successful implementation as described in conceptual work by Senge, and others (O’Brien, 1999) and supported by the SNA research.THIS LAST SENTENCE IS A BIT OVERWHELMING; I AM NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN.

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From "Learning Through Participation and Connecting Intelligences: Experimenting with a Wiki to Co-create an Article:
Submission to Knowledge Tree eJournal 2007 by Jenny Ambrozek, Victoria Axelrod & Kiki Mulliner


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