# Wynn-ing Ways email 31 of 45: Wisdom of the crowd

Here’s a party trick for you to do at the next conference or group gathering you attend.

Ask everyone in the room what they think the temperature will read on the thermostat.

Tally up the results and average them. You’ll find that the result will fall very close to the actual temperature, usually ± 1 degree.

This is common that the group consensus is close to the actual result. It was first documented by Galton by observing the results from a contest to guess the final weight of a butchered ox.

“It was in 1906 that Galton discovered what is known as the wisdom of crowds. He attended a farmers’ fair in Plymouth, where he was intrigued by a weight guessing contest. The goal was to guess the weight of an ox when it was butchered and dressed. Around 800 people entered the contest and wrote their guesses on tickets. The person who guessed closest to the butchered weight of the ox won a prize.

After the contest, Galton took the tickets and ran a statistical analysis on them. He discovered that the average guess of all the entrants was remarkably close to the actual weight of the butchered ox. It was under by only 1lb for an ox that weighed 1,198 lbs. This collective guess was not only better than the actual winner of the contest but also better than the guesses made by cattle experts at the fair. It seemed that democracy of thought could produce amazing results.

NPR.org

I saw this firsthand in business school when a professor had the class guess the number of beans in a jar. Our average answer was within five beans of the actual count.

A great book called superforecasting shows how group consensus and other techniques can predict the future.

So, do you gather 100 people and ask them to answer every question you don’t know?

You could.

Surveys are a great way to get these kinds of answers, but that is not what this email is about. I’m suggesting you look to a smaller group of peers to help you with the unknown.

Part of what I do with my Advantage Mastermind is establish ongoing groups. I incentivize them with continued access to my time if they keep their group going beyond our six weeks.

Why would I do that?

Because I know the power of strong-tie networks and how difficult they are to build. Each cohort builds strong personal ties. Then through my work, I’m making a network of networks.

But this isn’t about how to structure a network. It’s about why there is value within that network, specifically when it comes to decision-making.

An old friend used to say, “If you talk to another person about a problem, it cuts the problem in half.”

I like that advice, not that you have to find an expert but just a friendly ear. I know from experience that talking through a problem helps me to understand it better.

When you have a group that you’ve permitted to coach you, and you are open to their feedback, great things can happen.

My saying is, “it’s having people willing to tell you your business has spinach in its teeth.”

We need this because being objective as a small business owner producing a creative product is hard.

It all depends on you.

Failure isn’t just a financial failure, but a rejection by the market of your work.

The problem is what feels like failure may just be your point of view and comparison to others.

When you have a group you trust, you get to see people you respect going through the same thing as you. From time to time, each becomes the other authors’ coach and cheerleader.

Next week starts a series of emails that attempts to pull all this together. A few of you have reached out and said that this series has already opened your eyes to a new way of seeing your publishing business.

For me, this is where the rubber meets the road. I’m here as a resource for those who want to earn a living from their writing. Those that want a competitive edge that lasts even if that means learning and doing business stuff.