It is clear that crowds of people can make incredibly accurate decisions and predictions without any of them being experts. It is true that crowds of experts can make even more accurate predictions and better decisions. However, it is individuals that have to make most important decisions. So, can we draw on the diversity of crowds to make our individual decisions?
Whilst I am not a psychologist, my reading of the subject and my own experience is that we all have different voices in our minds and they represent different versions of our personalities, experiences, opinions etc and that it is the composite of these voices that generates our personality. Some voices are louder than others and this emphasis can change in different life situations. What seems to happen is that in each of the sectors of our lives one voice tends to dominate. This is what I call our “inner crowd”. Usually, one voice fights for and wins dominance in each situation.
My question is can we train ourselves to accommodate several if not all of our various voices and create synergy in order to tap into their different viewpoints, experiences and emotions to create a more representative crowd-like decision making mechanism?
We normally think of crowds as small or large groups people each offering their individual guess or decision to create a crowd decision or action. In such cases individual people usually engage only one voice for a particular type of decision or prediction. It is when all of these individual voices and opinions are averaged that good decisions arise. If individuals could act more like crowds we could tap into this power.
Of course the challenge is to create a decision system capable of analysing and weighing up relative strengths of each internal contribution, else we drop into stasis where no decision good or bad can be made.
I rather like the simple system of risk analysis that Ben Carson put forward. He asks himself the following four questions:
1. If I do this thing what is the best that can happen?
2. If I do this thing what is the worst that can happen?
3. If I don’t do this thing what is the best that can happen?
4. If I don’t do this thing what is the worst that can happen?
The answer to these questions will of course differ if we think using for example our adapted child voice compared with an authoritarian adult voice.
One way to sort this out is to create a series of “avatars” representing different versions of ourselves. If you have ever played Wii you will know what I mean. The idea is to create a well adapted child, a frightened child, a mature adult and an authoritarian adult version of you. This can only be achieved after considerable reflection and awareness raising. This is best achieved by working with a specialist business coach who is expert in this area of personal development. If we then place ourselves in these mindsets whilst asking each of the questions it is possible not only to assign an objective answer to them but also to experience something of the emotional impact of those answers experience by each voice.
To take this further and to inject some objectivity it is useful to create a scale for each of these four questions asked by each avatar. So, for example on a scale of 1 to 5 “what is the best that can happen if I do this thing”? The scores for each voice are then averaged and the answer with the highest average score is the one to go for. This is exactly what happens when a crowd of a thousand different people who are asked the same questions and the average is taken.
Of course we do not need to invoke the full system just to decide what sandwich to have at Subway. However, for really important life decisions such as,”is this the person I will marry”, “should we downsize the business” or “is this career shift to this new industry really for me” application of this full process should give you the most valid decision reflecting you as a whole person.
As with all tools test it out with some decisions that you have made in the past and see if you would have come up with the same answers.