Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Intelligence of crowds

It is difficult to subvert the ego of the individual and go with the average of the crowd - yet when the crowd's results outperform those of individuals it may be time to do some creative thinking about how we make chnages in healthcare - or anywhere else.  A classic example of the wisdom of the crowds is the "how many marbles in a bottle" challenge. With a decent sample, the average of the crowd is usually very close to the actual number. In comparison, individual's results are varied, the range is big and there are few that are close to the target.

NPR has interviewed the author of a book on the subject.

In his book The Perfect Swarm, Len Fisher talks about swarm intelligence -- where the collective ideas of a group add up to better solutions than any individual could have dreamed up, including an example of how UPS reorganized its driving routes using the logic of an ant colony.

You can listen to the interview (17 mins) or read a transcript.

Listen out for the way in which UPS redesigned their routes using swarm logic.  Do you think the same is possible for the redesign of patient pathways?

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