Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Business Experiment Moves Forward

The Business Experiment is currently casting its tenth and final vote on the "first round" of ideas. Each vote had around five business ideas, so it's been pretty interesting parsing and selecting what business is "best" from only a high-level description. But that is what the first phase of the experiment is all about. The theory is that a group - as a whole - will make a better decision based on a high-level overview than going into a deep dive analyses on all 50 ideas and then discussing each one at length.

Ideas that pass the first round, however, will have a more detailed analysis and discussion for the second round of voting, now that we have supposedly separated the wheat from the chaff. I should note that of five votes tallied so far, none of my first picks made it out of the first round. Draw your own conclusions on either me or the "crowd".

One interesting thing that has come up from the voting was an observation by Rob, who is driving the experiment:
Has anyone watched the votes at several different times during the day? It seems that, with the exception of one poll, once we get 40-50 votes, the results stay at about the same ratios.

I suggested this is a result of sample theory - which is the principle used in polling. You don't need to get a "vote" from every single person in a group to get an accurate representation of what a group wants, you only need to get a large enough sample - the result will be the same.

The interesting issue this brings up about "Wisdom of Crowds" decision making is that the whole "group" isn't needed to make a decision, only a representative sample. So what does that say about the concept in general and how you put it to work? It's a topic that a core group of us in the Experiment are now kicking around.

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