Written by Marisol Dahl
Imagine having all the world’s experts at your fingertips. You’d not only have a wealth of information—you could use that information to make better, faster, easier decisions.
Now, I’m not talking about the Google search engine or even Wikipedia. Google can’t tell you which car to buy to meet the individual needs of your family, and Wikipedia can’t advise you on your next career move.
I’m talking about your crowd, your people, your network. They’re your real-life friends, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, and blog readers. Believe it or not, these are your experts. And all too often we miss out on tapping into the collective intelligence of the people who are not only most accessible to us, but also know us best.
In Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything, Lior Zoref shows us exactly how to harness this collective intelligence.
Zoref calls this Mindsharing. With Mindsharing, you ask your crowd to think with you and help you come to a satisfying decision or answer. As Zoref puts it:
Mindsharing is a crowdsourced thinking process to solve problems, make decisions, access creativity, and create more ease and joy in our lives. Instead of thinking alone, we use social technologies to think with a big crowd. The process involves asking questions, analyzing responses, and coming to an answer based on the collective wisdom of the crowd.
Why does Mindsharing work? Crowd wisdom theory suggests that the collective intelligence of a group of typical people is just as good—if not better—than the intelligence of an expert. And in the age of Internet, social networking sites, and crowdsourcing sites like Quora and Reddit, the power of Mindsharing has never been greater.
Mindsharing in Action: Lior Zoref Buys a New Car
When Zoref left his vice president position at Microsoft, he had to hand over his company car. He then faced the daunting task of buying a new car, which involves everything from picking a model, to negotiating with the salesperson, to financing the purchase.
Not knowing anything about cars, Zoref decided to turn to his crowd. He posted on his Facebook page: “I’m looking to buy a new car for me and my family. I don’t care about the car brand. I only need it to be safe, efficient, and easy to maintain. What do you think?” A few hundred responses later, with people commenting on and “Liking” each other’s responses, the collective intelligence of Zoref’s Facebook crowd advised him to buy a Hyundai i30cw.
A while later, Zoref met with the editor of the automobile section in a well-known newspaper. The expert’s advice? a Hyundai i30cw.
See? The collective is just as wise as the expert. The crowd comes together, makes a ton of different suggestions, and then “judges its own intelligence,” resulting in the best possible recommendation from the group. It’s a fascinating and powerful concept.
In this example, Zoref used his crowd to help him pick a new car. But Mindsharing can be used for so many other decisions and situations as well. You can ask your crowd to help you pick your next career move, diagnose your strange knee pain, craft your résumé, choose a speaking topic, be a better parent, and even find true love.
All you have to do is ask. But as easy as Mindsharing sounds, it is an art. Only the best Mindsharing practices will bring you the best collective wisdom.
5 Tips for Optimal Mindsharing
1. Tap into a large, diverse group of thinkers.
As Zoref notes:
Mindsharing can happen only with independent thinking, a diverse and heterogeneous group, and without any preformed belief in the “correct” decision or outcome. Crowd wisdom is the end result only when you have diverse and conflicting viewpoints that are generated by a large group of people of different ages, backgrounds, and areas of interest or expertise.
2. Be genuine, be vulnerable.
Your crowd is more likely to help you if you share your humanity, your dreams, and your insecurities. People connect with emotion, and when you show a little emotion others will want to reach out to you and give you their best advice.
3. Ask clear, detailed, but neutral questions.
In your requests for crowd wisdom, be sure to give your people all the information they need. You’ll get better answers, and you’ll save everyone’s time. However, be sure not to sway the crowd towards a particular answer or a limited set of answers. Don’t ask yes/no questions or ask people to vote on a pre-determined set of choices. Those types of questions keep collective wisdom from coming forth, and they hinder productive interaction.
4. Listen to what the crowd is telling you, and respond accordingly.
The best Mindsharers tune in to the voice of the crowd, even if the crowd is saying something unexpected or completely opposite what the Mindsharer was originally thinking. Be honest with yourself about what your crowd is telling you, and act on their advice. Mindsharing is rarely about confirming the status quo—embrace evolution, and be ready to go in a different direction.
5. Treat your crowd like your significant other.
These are your people! Treat your tribe with the utmost respect. Take time to build meaningful relationships with your network: engage in conversations and be helpful and gracious when others Mindshare as well. Also, no “one-night stands,” as Zoref calls them:
Don’t rush things Don’t immediately go for a Mindsharing home run without first touching all the bases. You need to get to know your crowd and your crowd needs to get to know you. This is how trust and intimacy are built.
Above all, show appreciation for every bit of time, care, and wisdom each person in your crowd offers. Acknowledge what each person has to contribute.
We’re excited to give away a copy of Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything by Lior Zoref to one lucky Life After College reader. To enter, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, June 5:
Comment to Be Entered to Win:
Try Mindsharing today! What question can you ask your crowd right now?
About Marisol Dahl
Marisol recently graduate Yale as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and marketing. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.