Tapping Into the Wisdom of Teams

This article is written by Adam Siegel. Adam is the Founder of Cultivate Labs, a Chicago-based startup focusing on innovative ways to use crowdsourcing inside companies to improve how decisions are made.


All of us are biased in some way, inevitably leading to very bad decisions at one point or another. We also have weaknesses, whether it’s a lack of expertise in a certain area or an inability to handle certain situations better than others. It’s partially why we hire people: to not only take on more tasks, but to be good at something we are not. But most companies, from the largest to those with only a handful of employees, are drastically under-utilizing the knowledge and experience of the people they have hired.

Thankfully, a new generation of leaders is cropping up that have the humility to admit they don’t know everything. They don’t always have the right perspective, and they understand their own success hinges on knowing how to capture constant input from their teams when making the most important decisions about their business.

To put structure behind this leadership philosophy, there are tools you should consider leveraging to better capture the wisdom of your teams:

Try crowdsourcing predictions about your business using a tool like TinyCast, which asks people to give a probability estimate for events happening inside and outside your business. TinyCast lets you decide what question to ask, so consider asking about the ability to meet your KPI’s or when a competitor will launch a new product.

It’s important not just to tap the collective wisdom of your team about strategic decisions, but also about ideas for running the business better. This is when you’ll want an employee engagement tool like CultureAmp to regularly conduct “pulse surveys” and ensure you have the appropriate feedback mechanisms in place.

“Whistleblowing” has taken on a negative connotation as only being for reporting something wrong, but you can also think of it as someone wanting to convey an opinion anonymously, for whatever reason. So try introducing whistleblowing software like the open source application GlobaLeaks to support those who have opinions about your business but don’t feel comfortable speaking up for whatever reason.

Most teams have Slack or Hipchat these days to stay in touch, but channels are structured by project or team. Try creating a dedicated feedback channel that you seed with a question of the day or week relating to a decision you’re trying to make and let everyone in the company discuss it.

Dashboards and analytics platforms that everyone has access to will bring a new level of transparency to your culture and will ensure the input you get from your crowd is based on facts with the direction and priorities of the company in mind.

Finally, many dismiss good old fashioned meetings as calendar fillers and time wasters, but face to face interaction with your team where the sole agenda is for you to sit down and ask: “How are we doing?” can be both informative and cathartic for everyone involved.