Measuring the Success and Efficiency of and within Collaborative Networks

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Tiberius Brastaviceanu, founder of the Sensorica project, is interviewed by Sebastian Klemm:

"SK: In her book Biomimicry. Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine M. Benyus writes: “Mature communities, like innovative and productive companies, have rich communication channels that carry feedback to all members, influencing their march toward sustainability. Excess and waste are held in check by mechanisms that reward efficient behavior and punish foolish genes. Any organism that is surrounded by and dependent on so many other links must develop unambiguous ways to signal its intentions and interact with its neighbors.”

At the Collabathon you are involved in the Open Innovation prompt, where you observe, measure, analyse and map participant behavior within the Collobathon’s communication channels on Discord. Within this communication you characterised so-called communicators and pollinators. What are you aiming for with your observation? How do you measure communication? What did you find so far?

Tiberius Brastaviceanu: Our goal is to use measurements to assess how well the collaborative network performs, and intervene to improve its performance. For example, during the Collabathon we looked at the main communication channel to analyse prompts and the relations between prompts. We looked at how information was flowing between prompts and at how people engaged with prompts. Patterns can be extracted from the exchanges that happened on Discord, the messaging platform used during the event.

  • Sebastian Klemm: In a report on your “Open Innovation prompt” stands written: “Collaboration and Collective Intelligence in the context of an open innovation event (limited in time, intense) are not the same thing. We experience collective intelligence when we feel that we are thinking WITH others. That happens when participants have built a strong base of shared understanding. (…) Before collective intelligence can kick in, a process of shared understanding building is required, which should be explicitly included in the methodology of work.”

Which methodologies can the Open Climate Collabathon apply to evolve a collective intelligence, indeed?

Tiberius Brastaviceanu: Collective intelligence is an emergent property of a group. First, we must put in place the conditions for it to emerge. Second, we must cultivate it. Third, we can aid it with AI for example.

Sometimes we have similar thoughts with close friends or family members. This happens with people that interact with us often and with whom we develop shared thought patterns. When brainstorming with close people something magic happens, we think in unison.

That is collective intelligence, when individuals in the group coordinate their thoughts to a high degree and build ideas on top of each others’ ideas. They don’t need to explain themselves too much, they don’t need to negotiate extensively, they don’t need to worry about other things because they trust each other already.

Putting in place the conditions for social intelligence to emerge is creating an environment where individuals can interact, access information, exchange ideas, negotiate, establish trust. For example, create an online forum, set up a repository of data and information, provide tools for search, retrieve, filter, analysis of information, and provide open access to all these tools. Cultivating collective intelligence means establishing an inclusive culture, allowing and even encouraging participation, implementing methods for collaboration that maximize the exchange of ideas and the selection of good ideas." [1]