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What are “Amplified Individuals”?

Amplified individuals are empowered by digital technologies and the collective intelligence of their professional networks.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled “The New Kind of Worker Every Business Needs”, Marina Gorbis from the Institute for the Future begins by saying:

“We live in a world in which amplified individuals — people empowered by technologies and the collective intelligence of their social networks — can do things that previously only a large organization could. Indeed, they can do some things that no organization could do before. For better and worse, this is the world in which weekend software hackers can disrupt large software firms, and rapidly orchestrated social movements can bring down governments.”

She suggests that these amplified individuals add value by:

“bypassing established institutions and processes for building new things, and instead working to create what they find missing in the world by communicating the need to their social networks, mobilizing whatever resources they have at their disposal, and pursuing solutions collaboratively.”

To attract and retain this type of employee, and thereby increase the capacity for organisational innovation, she suggests that businesses need to:

  • Change how they measure performance (across wider networks, not just internally)

  • Support individual initiative rather than control employees’ actions (via self organised teams and community building)

  • Socialise underused assets (build social capital by sharing underused resources)

Can you find and share any examples of businesses that do this well?

© University of Exeter
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