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Consortium for Service Innovation

Executive Overview

Intelligent Swarming is gaining a lot of attention as organizations are dealing with the challenge of reducing customer effort and improving customer success and productivity, while at the same time facing increasing complexity and a shortage of skills.  The Intelligent Swarming framework is proving to be a great asset to organizations that resolve moderate to highly complex issues.  When compared with the traditional tiered support model, swarming improves both skills development and skills utilization, as well as the speed and accuracy of resolutions with far fewer hand offs, thereby providing customers with a better experience.  It also increases the level of employee engagement.  Everyone benefits: the business, our customers, and employees: it is wholly beneficial! 

Swarming is proving to be a better way to align resources with work. It replaces the linear escalation model with a dynamic collaboration model.  Knowledge workers already collaborate quite naturally and they quickly embrace a swarming model that facilitates collaboration. Early adopter organizations are surprised at the speed at which they are realizing benefits, even with fairly manual processes. 

When done correctly, Intelligent Swarming plays to people's intrinsic motivators. The challenge in adopting Intelligent Swarming is not with the knowledge worker, it is with management.  The way we assess people's contribution in a highly collaborative environment is very different from the traditional production line, activity-based model used by most organizations today. It turns out that we don't need managers in a swarming model; we need leaders.  Leaders must describe the big picture and explain why we are doing this, what it means for the knowledge worker and the organization, and most importantly, why this is important to those we support (customers). If the knowledge workers understand the "why," they will make good judgments about the "how."  The shift from management to leadership is essential. Managers direct and judge, leaders inspire, enable, facilitate, and coach. Managers often feel a sense of "ownership" about the team they manage.  The management attitude of "my team should focus on my goals" is death to a collaboration model.  Leaders focus on the bigger picture: our goal, collectively, is to improve the productivity and success of those we support. 

As the old saying goes, you get what you measure.  The organization needs to be ready to change its measures from individual and competitive-based measures to team measures with a focus on optimizing collaboration and team performance.  Executives need to design a swarming environment to empower the most competent and provide coaching for team members who have opportunities for growth.


The Framework describes the following:

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