National Geographic Magazine this month has a story on how the study of swarm intelligence and how it is providing insight on managing complex systems: Swarm Behavior.
As I was reading, I thought of Professor McAfee’s statement about the wisdom of crowds at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference last week: crowds are not less intelligent than their least intelligent member, but instead are many times more intelligent than the most intelligent member.
The article starts off by pointing out that individual ants are not smart, but ant colonies are. It is management of the interaction and collaboration among the individual ants that makes the colony work. The article continues on with study of swarm intelligence and other examples in nature.
As the end of the article, the author moved onto the applications in human behavior. The author cites the obvious connection of swarm intelligence in the success of Google and Wikipedia.
I think knowledge management and enterprise 2.0 are both looking to harness the swarm intelligence of their organizations.