Google’s experimental decision market

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —January 13, 2006
Filed in Culture, Leadership Posts

Last September I reviewed James Surowiecki’s book Wisdom of Crowds. At the end of the review I said:

I can understand why, as Surowiecki laments, few organisations have implemented group decision-making—because it removes power from those who have the authority and responsibility to implement the decisions.

So it was a pleasure to discover, a little belatedly perhaps, that Google is using decision markets to forecast things like “… product launch dates, new office openings, and many other things of strategic importance to Google. So far, more than a thousand Googlers have bid on 146 events in 43 different subject areas.”

As serendipity would have it I read The Google Story over the Christmas break and I can see why their culture supports this type of decision making tool; decision-making appears distributed and employees have opportunities to create new products. Like 3M of the past, Google encourages everyone to take 20% of their work time and pursue a pet project of their choosing.

It appears that the Google decision market is working well. There is a high correlation between the forecast and the eventual outcome. See Bo Cowgill’s chart.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

One Response to “Google’s experimental decision market”

  1. Keith De La Rue Says:

    Shawn – have I ever told you about how I facilitated the development of a mission statement for my church? The process allowed everyone in the church – 250 or so people – to contribute…

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