Our think tank on thinking

Like many global executives, Imaginatik CEO Mark Turrell was trapped in Europe during the volcano ash drama-ette in April, spending several extra days in London. Never one to let a little setback get him down, he decided to experiment with a new idea for Imaginatik: Think Tanks.

A think tank is usually defined as an organization that gathers together diverse insights, usually face-to-face, and focuses on a particular topic in order to produce some output that will influence or direction opinions and actions on that topic. Not wishing to completely break the mould, he set out to establish how a think tank would work within the context of Imaginatik’s Collective Intelligence vision, to support the activities of Imaginatik’s clients, and to fulfill our wider mission of helping society at large.

So last week, an impromptu think tank convened at the Hult Business School location in Bloomsbury, London. Imaginatik has a long-standing relationship with the Hult-IXL program for innovation, which originally started in Boston, and with Hult expanding its global footprint of MBA campuses, we had an opportunity the previous week to host a lecture for the MBA program.

A gathering of 11 select individuals met at 6 p.m. in the Nairobi room… and only left three hours later for drinks and dinner. No one knew quite what to expect, as Imaginatik’s intent was to treat this as a prototype think tank - an experiment in how to run future events. Fortunately everyone was comfortable with the approach, and as the evening progressed we switched from our initial conversations around the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and the impact on supply chains (of which we guessed a lot, and knew remarkably little), to the process of thinking itself. And that was much more illuminating.

The core topic rapidly coalesced around judgment, the ability for individuals by themselves and in group contexts to make evaluations of events, and the use of the collective as a way of ideating and provoking action at mass scale.

We’ll be writing up our insights from the session, and queuing up future sessions over the coming weeks. We’re also using the content from this session to help us design more “collective-intelligent” approaches to Think Tanks, perhaps with a goal of defining a sharable protocol with other groups to help them productively take advantage of the power of the masses … and the power of people who cannot travel and are stuck in a hotel, missing the face-to-face meeting!

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