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Consortium for Service Innovation


Intelligent Swarming is a smarter way to align people and work.  Born out of the high tech support and services industry, it is gaining a lot of attention as the most efficient way to solve problems in ever-changing, complex environments.  At its core, Intelligent Swarming is about getting work to the right resources as fast as possible, and when people need help solving problems, making it easy for them to collaborate.   

When compared with the traditional tiered, hierarchical, silo-based support services model, Intelligent 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 and the ability to face new challenges dynamically. Everyone benefits: the business, our customers, and employees. It is wholly beneficial! 

If we want dramatically different outcomes, we have to do something dramatically different. 

Knowledge workers already collaborate quite naturally and they quickly embrace a system that facilitates collaboration. Early adopter organizations are surprised at the speed at which they are realizing benefits, even with fairly manual processes. 

Success is seen with Intelligent Swarming because it plays to people's intrinsic motivators; it provides people with opportunities for autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The challenge with adopting Intelligent Swarming is that it calls into question 30+ years of accepted practices in support/services thinking. 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.

In a swarming environment, managers at all levels shift from "owning teams" to being leaders focused on the big picture.  If the knowledge workers understand the "why," they will make good judgments about the "how."  The role of a manager as a director and judge is no longer needed; we need leaders who inspire, enable, facilitate, and coach. Leaders focus on the bigger picture: our goal, collectively, is to improve the productivity and success of those we support. Managers should focus on explaining 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, peers, colleagues).

As the old saying goes, you get what you measure.  An organization committed to Intelligent Swarming updates its measures from individual and competitive-based to team measures with a focus on optimizing collaboration and team performance.  Swarming thrives in an environment designed to empower the most competent and provide coaching for team members who have opportunities for growth.   

This Intelligent Swarming Practices Guide offers guiding principles, core concepts, practices, and design techniques that will help an organization move to a better way of working.


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