That headline might strike some of you as a cheekily bold statement, or maybe an obviously sensible and earnest request, or perhaps just the fans’ conceited over estimation of their ability to advise a highly intelligent man, commended by many pundits and fans as one of the best Arsenal managers ever, on how to do his job.
Before jumping to conclusions, let’s quietly have a look at how taking this advice could, should and would be beneficial to all involved – Arsene, the club and also devoted Gooners everywhere.
It has long been held that, in some circumstances, large groups of individuals often demonstrate more intelligence and problem solving ability than smaller groups, or even elite, professional groups and that this collective intelligence is far greater than that of the most intelligent person in any given group.
If we take our common interest in Arsenal and our concomitant desire for the club to successfully reach decisions enabling it to achieve the trophies many would love to see them collect, whilst also being run in a way that protects the future of the club, we, the fans, the owners, the coach and the players can be considered just such a group as we all have the same objectives.
What the heck am I talking about?
The example most frequently given, though there are many others, is that of an ox which was paraded at a County Fair, and offered to the person who could most accurately guess the butchered weight of the poor beast.
The competition was open to any individual, in what was a huge crowd, even including expert butchers and, to the surprise of the judges, it was the average of the guesses which were made that was much closer to the true weight of the ox, rather than any of the individual or expert estimates that were received!
Applying the theory to Arsenal, it suggests that a large, diverse collection of independent individuals or small groups representing such individuals, such as the many blogsites available on the internet, could collectively make better decisions for certain parts of the running of the club, such as transfer decisions, than any one individual or small group of experts, however clever they may be, and that includes Arsene!
The way forward for undertaking this decision making process would, most logically, have to be a forum, possibly the AST, representing the collective views of the many blogging sites found on the internet, which would collect and promulgate the disparate views and opinions, however strange, made by the many thousands of Gooners throughout the world, and distil them into viable decisions which could be presented to the club.
There are some simple criteria and safeguards which would need to be put into play, of course, and these would necessarily include, the need to have as many blogsites’ inputting their opinions as possible. Within each blogsite it would be critically important that no blogger should feel coerced, influenced or persuaded to change his/her mind because of the opinions of the more eloquent bloggers around them, and, finally, there would need to be a way of channelling the key decisions arrived at by each blogsite to the agreed Forum.
Many Gooners might find the following interesting, because it is not intuitive, but as a way of enfranchising as many as possible from all parts of the world, and to encourage them to participate fully, it might help to know the following.
- Groups/blogsites, are collectively more intelligent than the smartest person in them
- For the blog to be intelligent it must be diverse, independent and decentralized.
- To make the best decisions there must be disagreements, arguments and contests.
- Listening to too much outside information makes a group less intelligent.
- There is certainly no need to consult the ‘expert’ within the group.
Well, before Arsene starts reading the blogs in earnest, it is worth pointing out that there may be a fly in the ointment.
There is a psychological phenomenon that can occur within a group of people such as those frequenting a blogsite. That is the natural desire to be in harmony with others, especially when decision making, and this, unfortunately, overrides the pragmatic appraisal of realistic alternatives and devalues the expected output.
The effect is straightforward , in that members on a blogsite try to minimise conflict with those they consider as friends and acquaintances and therefore reach an unhappy and unsatisfactory compromise decision, on, for example, whether or not Arsenal need to give priority to buying a defender, or whether that priority should be for the purchasing of a world class centre forward, because it is very difficult to critically evaluate that decision while under the cosh of social pressures calling for uniformity.
However, the real cost of trying to achieve unanimity when fans are deeply involved in a cohesive ‘in’ group such as a blogsite is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking, because of an innate desire for collective optimism and the avoidance of collective conflict.
None of the difficulties mentioned, above, would justify Arsene Wenger in ignoring this request to listen to the fans, and to not carry out a conscientious in-depth and careful analysis of the views expressed on the fans’ blogs, even as they are, because despite all their imperfections, and without there being a real driver to put in place the Forum suggested above, there really is a highly motivated and intelligent decision making source out there that he should be tapping into.
Without going all Star Trek Voyager on you, although there is a lot to be said for looking at and listening to ‘7 of 9’, for some of us at least, the evidence all points to the collective intelligence being greater than the single entity, and among the myriad, disorganized, jumble of voices calling out, via the blogs, for this or that change at the club, and the prevarications on how the club should be run, some of which are pure nonsense, there is a nugget of pure decision making gold out there, among the frenetic voices of the fans, just waiting to be garnered.
Come on, Arsene, be bold, Listen to the Wisdom of the Fans, and we will conquer the world!
Written by Red Arse