Many people are searching for ways to understand and use collective intelligence. This site describes a simple but profoundly powerful question-based model. It makes collective intelligence available to any project or organization of any size, up to and including global civilization.
The central feature is a core question, open ended and incapable of being answered in a final way. When people engage in pursuing continually better answers they accumulate. This can be called a system of collective intelligence.
The key is a seemingly trivial observation: shared questions elicit answers which can be shared, compared, and the best one chosen.
Shared questions work at all levels of human interaction, from “Where shall we go to dinner?” to “How can we put a man on the moon and bring him back safely within this decade?” (the Apollo Project) to “How does nature work?” (science).
Grasping this approach requires a change of mindset from being answer-centric to being question-centric. We do need answers but asking a good question generates answers in abundance.
A good question with a good filtering system to identify progressively better working answers generates a growing body of increasingly good answers.
For instance, technology evolves rapidly through asking “How can we do this thing, or do it better?” Another system using the model (in daily practice if not consciously as a system) is capitalism, where people ask themselves and each other “How can I (or we) make more money?” As mentioned, science asks “How does nature work?” Each system has its own ways of determining which answers are best.
It is a fact of life that shared questions elicit answers, and that we can use logic and experiment to identify the best ones. Another fact of life is the appeal and power of the status quo.
The “problem” with the question-based approach is that it continually disrupts accepted ways of doing and thinking. It creates ambiguity and change and undermines certainty and vested interest. It disrupts the status quo. All this makes people uncomfortable. If one wants continual change, it works reliably. If one would rather not rock the boat this approach is to be avoided. We get to choose which system to rely on in shaping how we live on this planet.
Presently we generally allow capitalism to run the show, with profits and the protection of vested interests largely taking priority over asking how to have a viable planet, for instance.
Asking a different question could engage enough people and generate enough new answers and demands for change to alter the direction of global society, including the future of the environment. This is explored in more detail in Re-Civilizing the World.