“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” This highly insightful quotation has been attributed to a number of gentlemen over time, among them Winston Churchill and Mark Twain, and in today’s turbulent times of economic instability, it feels even more fitting than in times of tranquillity. Now, more than ever, people and companies are crying out for pointers on the road ahead, signposts from trusted sources they can rely on – even for the immediate future, such as the next quarter or 12 months.
Companies have a remarkable, often overlooked resource which they can easily tap into to improve their prognosis: the knowledge of their people. In no other area will you find such a rich blend of experience and skills as in company’s key players. By systematically tapping into the knowledge of each individual, companies gain access to “the wisdom of crowds”, or what some would call collective intelligence.
To shed light on the various entry points to collective intelligence – especially fields such as swarm intelligence, prediction and information markets, open innovation exchanges and opinion mining – the Steinbeis University Berlin’s School of Management and Innovation (SMI) organized the SMI spring workshop on collective intelligence with the Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute (FSTI). A variety of experts from other universities and enterprises were invited to the event, as well as members of the Steinbeis network. In this edition of Transfer Magazine, we have provided a synopsis of the workshop, which demonstrated clearly that tools for innovation help create opportunities for small, locally networked teams – as well as global companies – to put the knowledge of every individual to good use. What’s more, this can be done in real time and at relatively low cost, no matter what level of the organization employees work at. This makes it possible for each individual to play an active and concerted role in shaping the course of company strategy and management.
The Steinbeis Network has an unrivalled potential to further the application of collective intelligence processes. The competitive transfer of knowledge and technology allows project partners to build know-how networks and thus identify creative ways to come up with valuable new concepts. Recognizing and fostering the potential of employees to collectively develop new solutions will be a key task of the managers and leaders of the future. Long-term, forward-looking management of concepts and talent does not focus on decisions made in isolation. It draws efficiently on every available source of information – local and global, inside and outside the company.
Once again, we have seen that applied knowledge and technology transfer can be a winwin situation for everyone involved. We hope you find inspiration in the transfer projects outlined in this edition and are encouraged to share your own knowledge. The Steinbeis network is the ideal environment for doing precisely that.
Prof. Dr. habil. Andreas Aulinger
Prof. Dr. habil. Andreas Aulinger is a Professor of Organization and Program Director at the SMI School of Management and Innovation at Steinbeis University Berlin. Max Pfeiffer is head of the Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute in Stuttgart.