The ever thougthful David Pollard has an excellent article on the Wisdom of Crowds versus the Wisdom of Witch Doctors (Consultants and Senior Management). http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/categories/businessInnovation/2006/09/21.html#a1650
In the article Pollard outlines where crowds and experts might be best suited to particular types of problems, or stages of problem. All in all, pretty standard mangement theory. What has changed over the years is our ability to "source crowds", poll opinion, and gather feedback. For me one of the key questions that comes out of this article is "how can companies build qualified crowds", and in fact, is this capability in itself an organisational key competence?
Given that many of todays Web 2.0 companies depend upon rapid development and feedback cycles from early adopters perhaps their 'crowds' are not representative of the requirements of the vast majority of their actual end target audiance?. Perhaps we should develop tools to profile our 'crowd" before we put down some baseline strategic assumptions about our products or services.
In many ways we, as management and as companies, have the world pre-interpreted and pre-digested for us by our own histories, our teams experiences, and many other structural aspects of organisational behavour. Perhaps in the "open world" of the internet, many companies and teams are unwittingly singing to a choir of their own choosing? So here is a thought for the day: "how could a customer service department use web 2.0 and voice technologies to source qualified crowds to give you a better and more realistic context for your decison making"?