Governing the Future: Collective Intelligence and Global Risks

By Gabriella Anesio

Posted on

There never was a primordial liberal state of nature in which individual intelligence flourished. On the contrary, it is more likely that humans have always been social creatures and that the celebration of individual intelligence came much later on in human development (Danaher, 2021)

There are certain risks that the world faces that simply cannot be solved by the bright mind of one person, one company, or even one industry. The interconnectedness of our world means that problems often extend beyond industries and geographical boundaries, thereby necessitating a multi-disciplinary approach to address them.

These intricately complex problems can be referred to as ‘wicked problems’, defined as complex and persistent issues that defy straightforward solutions. This blog delves into how the characteristics of collective intelligence are highly compatible with tackling wicked problems, providing a great example from the work of Wazoku Crowd.

What are wicked problems?

Wicked problems are uncertain and ambiguous. With an overwhelming sense of unpredictability, there is often no single, right answer to a wicked problem. Accordingly, solutions tend to be messy, contingent, and require ongoing adaptation and collaboration. Specifically, these problems are by no means static, and the way that the present unfolds constantly changes the road to a solution.

To give an example, climate change is a wicked problem that defies straightforward resolution due to its multifaceted nature, global scope, and intricate interplay of social, economic, and environmental factors. Addressing climate change as a wicked problem necessitates collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches that acknowledge the intricate web of relationships between human activities and the environment. Effective solutions must be flexible, recognizing that the path to resolution may involve continuous refinement and adjustment based on emerging insights and changing circumstances.

How is collective intelligence compatible with governing wicked problems?

Collective intelligence boils down to the idea that the knowledge of a group can outshine an individual. What sets collective intelligence apart is its ability to blend human intelligence with technology, taking this collective brainpower to a whole new level. You can think of collective intelligence as this emergent quality that includes both stuff you can easily spell out (explicit knowledge) and the more subtle, context-dependent insights that might be hard to put into words (tacit knowledge).

The reason that collective intelligence is so fitting to tackle these aforementioned wicked problems is that it can harness the diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences of a global crowd of people, which is much better suited to comprehend and navigate the uncertainties and complexities inherent in wicked problems.

Unlike traditional problem-solving methods driven by individual expertise, collective intelligence leverages the knowledge of a group, creating a wisdom that goes beyond what any single person could achieve.

Leading by Example: Enel & Wazoku Crowd

Wazoku Crowd is the epitome of what leveraging the collective intelligence of a global crowd of people looks like. Take for example the collaboration between Wazoku Crowd and Enel. Enel, as a multinational energy company with almost 74 million end users, relies upon Open Innovation to power its sustainability plans.

The Enel Open Innovability® methodology has prioritized co-creation with start-ups, SMEs, and large companies through Wazoku’s international community of partners, resources, customers, and data. By partnering with Wazoku, Enel has extended its reach for problem-solving and opportunity scouting to a global crowd of change-makers. This has resulted in over 600 collaborations and a whopping 21,000 opportunities evaluated on the platform. Expressing the value of collaborating with Wazoku, Santi Villari, Governance Expert and Project Manager at the Enel Group, stated the following:

Our partnership with Wazoku has seen us run 50+ open innovation Challenges over 6 years. The unique perspectives of the Wazoku Crowd contributes greatly to the success of our Open Innovability® strategy.

The traditional celebration of individual intelligence must give way to collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches that recognize the complexity and uncertainty of wicked problems. As exemplified by the partnership between Wazoku Crowd and Enel, leveraging the collective intelligence of a global crowd proves to be an effective strategy for navigating the intricacies of complex issues, such as climate change.

By Gabriella Anesio

Gabriella is a Marketing Associate at Wazoku. She’s a massive fan of any and all music (except country music...) - you’ll never catch her without her headphones.