Collective intelligence may, right off the bat, sound like an incredibly intriguing concept (we definitely think so, here at Mindpool). However, how we actually collect, process, and present the collective intelligence of employees via the Mindpool platform, for more accurate insights about the business, can maybe seem like a black box.
It’s one thing to point to the compelling evidence that exists and the concrete reality that collective intelligence helps organizations’ forward-looking capabilities, but it’s a whole other thing to understand how this practically works and plays out – facilitated through our intelligent platform. It is, therefore, important for us to unpack all of these questions in order for everyone to truly grasp the value that Mindpool can bring to organizations and managers – or, rather, the value that the Mindpool platform can help organizations, managers, and leaders extract from their own employees.
This article takes on an FAQ-style format, wherein we will address some of the most pressing questions about the practicalities of the Mindpool process.
Including questions such as:
Remember, if you have a question that is not addressed in this blog post, you can always reach out to us and we will gladly get into the nitty gritty details with you one on one.
At its very core, Mindpool is a platform powered by human intelligence and enabled by technology.
Practically-speaking, what this means is that Mindpool helps source insights from people within organizations and bridge information gaps all the way from the frontline to the management level. Thus, with the help of machine learning and novel technologies, Mindpool seamlessly transforms quantitative and qualitative input from employees into predictions and insights with tangible actions for decision-makers within organizations.
Mindpool breaks the process down into three (and a half) coherent and transparent steps:
1) collect: in this initial stage, the abundance of tacit knowledge spread throughout your organization is gathered via intuitive forms that respondents can answer in under 5 minutes
2) process: next, using our a mix of research-backed data models and new technology (including NLP), the Mindpool platform works through all of the human intelligence collected in the first stage
3) present: finally, all of these insights are presented in an understandable and dynamic dashboard, allowing managers to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. When presenting insights, Mindpool is heavily focused on good data storytelling and ensuring that insights are relevant for any level of the organization
3.5) optional - feedback loops to employees: after the full round of Mindpool (the three simple steps above), organizations have the option to share a dashboard made purely for employees. On this dashboard employees can discover high-level insights, as well as interact with other colleagues' suggestions and insights. This step ensures that the Mindpool process is not a black-box for employees and that employees can understand the value they provide. This is truly engagement 2.0.
Tacit knowledge stands in stark contrast to explicit knowledge, the latter of which is easier to explain first. Explicit knowledge is the type of knowledge that you can verbalize, write down, or codify in some sort of way. This is the kind of knowledge that you are aware of and can explicitly communicate.
On the other hand, tacit knowledge is knowledge that you might not even be aware that you possess; this can be gained through observation or hands-on experience talking to customers or other stakeholders in the industry, for example. The nature of tacit knowledge thus makes it very hard to articulate for the individual, yet it becomes extraordinarily valuable when combined at an aggregated level (hence the name collective intelligence). This resource is absolutely essential to draw out from employees, as it is a pivotal source of information that could enormously aid forward-looking capabilities within organizations.
We like to depict the wealth of tacit knowledge that permeates organizations with an iceberg – the very tip of that iceberg (approximately 10%) is the knowledge already possessed by managers, gathered via reports, budgets, presentations, and other such tangible documents; the other 90% is the abundant knowledge that employees hold onto, and is knowledge that they have accumulated through experience, gut feelings, interactions, intuition etc.
Mindpool uses a mix of research models and technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) to process inputs into insights. NLP is a method which uses technology to interpret human language, thereafter being able to categorize comments and insights across themes and topics, as well as across sentiment (either positive or negative). This helps to present an immediate overview of the tone expressed from employees as well as what topics and themes are discussed the most. Thus, NLP acts as a mechanism to process, synthesize, and organize data (aka the human intelligence dispersed throughout the organization). As the UNDP succinctly states, “AI methods like natural language processing (NLP) can be used to identify prominent topics and help to cluster the data by meaning” (UNDP accelerator labs, 2021). Using these methods, Mindpool can help managers discover the biggest problems and opportunities for the business.
A huge incentive for organizations to use the Mindpool platform is the very fact that our platform does absolutely everything for you with regard to collecting, processing, and presenting the data. It is in other words, a highly cost-effective approach to gather insights from employees. You have the employees, and we have the technology to harness all of their insights and convert them into actionable insights, so that you do not have to spend countless hours going through hundreds or even thousands of suggestions. In addition to this, the platform provides a filtering function which means that not only can you get an overview of all insights, but you can also filter said insights depending on department, category, or whatever variable is deemed most relevant. This narrows the breadth of insights even more, to the point where tangible actions can be made immediately.
You may even think of Mindpool as a digital and enhanced version of the good old “idea post-box” or even the Who Wants to be a Millionaire lifeline “ask the audience” (but in this case “ask the employees”).
There is only so much information that one single human being can process alone. When it comes to complex problems, utilizing the wisdom of crowds is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Primarily, the diversity which crowds exhibit acts as a strong foundation for accumulating a range of perspective, experiences, and wisdoms – it is self-explanatory how this is bound to result in stronger observations and predictions more often than not.
From a practical standpoint, there are multiple statistics that speak for the significant successes of collective intelligence. To give just one illuminating example, Deutsche Telekom sourced 11,000 ideas from their employees which led to a projected savings of over €115 million – all of these savings stemming not from expensive external consultants, but from internal employee-generated insights (Tucci & Afuah, 2018).
Mindpool is the platform that facilitates exactly this process seamlessly in organizations of any size, so imagine the benefits that you could reap within yours.
Similar findings relating to predictions can be found in case studies from both Ford and Henkel. Ford achieved a 25% lower error in sales predictions, whilst Henkel experienced a 22% increase in accuracy of sales predictions by using employee predictions (Cowgill & Zitzewitz, 2015). The remarkable thing about collective intelligence is that it is an untapped resource manifested within an organization – one does not have to seek it externally. That’s why employee knowledge is such an important and powerful resource to tap into.
To highlight just one interesting case (which will remain anonymous for confidentiality purposes), a company which used the Mindpool platform found, through the collective intelligence gathered, a solution to profit losses anticipated in November: pushing out an exciting and novel product. Through simply aggregating the insights from their own employees, they managed to find an innovative solution for the very serious problem of an expected slow sales month – that may have otherwise required bringing in external consultants for a price exponentially higher than the Mindpool platform. On top of this, management had instant access to a traffic-light overview of employees' opinions about the future of the business (predictions), what areas to be aware of, and how to enable proactive decision-making.
If you want to read about other cases and the valuable insights gathered through using Mindpool, have a look at this blog post.
At Mindpool, we are fully aware that not all organizations act the same, meaning that there may be a focus on vastly different ‘areas’. Whilst we have a number of standard and validated Mindpools across many different topics (for example Innovation, HR, Customer Success) we are very aware that organizations sometimes want to explore a specific topic relevant to their immediate needs. Based on this reality, Mindpool offers a customizable package – where you can “customize your own Mindpool” – in order to fully adjust the harnessing of collective intelligence to your company and your specific needs and goals. This entails customized questions and data analytics, thus allowing you to focus on exactly the areas you want, filtering out any white noise. The customized Mindpool is thus built on our research-backed framework, but tailored to the specific needs of your organization.
That means that if you want to focus on something totally niche, that is completely your prerogative and Mindpool can easily facilitate this for your organization. It might be that you’re looking into how you can improve sustainability initiatives – something which the Mindpool platform can effortlessly adjust to. In addition, if you want to focus your attention on only one department or your whole organization, this is absolutely something that the Mindpool platform accommodates for.
Saying that, for the organizations out there that don’t necessarily have a highly specific route of questioning to pursue, there is no need to fret. The standardized framework we have created to gather insights from employees is backed by decades of impressive research and has been effectively put to the test, showcasing only excellent results.
This is exactly why we have built an open suggestions function that is integrated into the platform and on the employee dashboard. This allows for innovative and out-of-the-box thinking that might not be able to be expressed through survey-style answers.
Answers can be as long or short as you want, and this is the space for you to express any extensive thoughts or forward-looking insights you may have been holding onto but did not know how to express prior.
This is the kind of place where employees are able to voice their “hunches” without having to worry about being wrong or being judged by their managers. What makes this even more effective is the fact that all responses and insights are anonymous, thus fostering a completely non-judgemental environment. In fact, anonymity is one of Mindpool’s top priorities, as it is the cornerstone of freedom of expression. In addition, employees are able to interact with their colleagues' suggestions via the employee dashboard, for example by upvoting suggestions that they agree with. The outcome is that managers can quickly single in on the best ideas and solutions for the organization.
Take for example the classic scenario of being a student at school or university and burning to ask a question or convey a thought, but refraining to do so due to the fear it might “sound stupid” to everyone else, especially the teacher. Now apply this to the world of organizations and it won’t take a genius to realize that exactly the same situation may apply, but rather, in this case, an employee with a brilliant insight who does not know how to approach the management team – either because they are not sure if the insight is valid or because they might not necessarily have a solution for it or action to follow through with.
Take this a step even further and envision that this kind of integral thinking is spread vastly throughout all organizations; tacit knowledge of this nature is exactly what the Mindpool platform harnesses, and anonymity of all employees ensures that no one holds back their insights – insights which may have the potential to influence decision-making, predictions, and forecasting for the better.
Motivating employees to join the Mindpool experience is key to obtaining their unique insights. This is why we utilize feedback loops. Feedback loops ensure that results and findings are conveyed back to employees, meaning that employees will be encouraged to respond, knowing that their insights are actually strategically used. It spurs intrinsic motivation.
Also, the addition of the upvoting function is intended to have the effect of stimulating interaction with other employees’ responses, suggestions, actions etc. This will also help to curate more accurate responses because the more information that employees from throughout the organization can comprehend and digest, the more insights they will be able to use to improve and expand on their own ideas and predictions. This is presented in the form of an employee dashboard in which employees have an overview of insights (the insights are randomized so as to steer clear from any form of bias).
Not only this, but employees can continue to provide suggestions even once they have completed the survey. This kind of flexibility facilitates a platform conducive to reality – a reality wherein people may get those “aha” moments at any point, thus acknowledging that employees won’t necessarily have epiphanies when put on the spot.
Hopefully, through this post, we have managed to answer some pressing questions – or at least clarified how the Mindpool process functions. The main takeaway is that collective intelligence works. And we have the platform to aggregate this collective intelligence within organizations. The way that we do this follows a process that is research-backed, so as to provide the most relevant and effective responses without compromising anonymity. This upholds the integrity of every single employee, encouraging them to provide insights that could potentially change the trajectory of your organization for the better.
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