Why we should leverage collective intelligence now more than ever

Interview with Thomas Hinterseer, CEDEP Managing Director

In these unpredictable and uncertain times, it’s not business as usual. Organisations need more than ever to make smarter decisions about their futures. Companies that listen to the outside world and build the capacity to integrate these new insights into their strategy are gaining a competitive advantage and new business strategies are mandatory for survival. Customer centricity and agility have become keys to success.  Is collective intelligence taking us one step further?

Based on his experience managing an organisation founded 50 years ago on the very principle of collective intelligence, Thomas Hinterseer, CEDEP Managing Director, gives us insights into the value it creates for companies and society.

Collective intelligence to solve global challenges

Collective intelligence refers to the capacity of a community to converge intelligence and knowledge to advance towards a common goal. It leads to an effective mobilisation of the skills of this community which is not limited to the cognitive and problem-solving dimension, but also offers a useful emerging structure where each individual finds a benefit in collaborating  by increasing his or her own performance within the group which is better than if he or she were isolated.

If we take a very topical example, we can see that for the future welfare of our society, smarter decisions are vital. In our complex world challenged by a global pandemic, one of the biggest challenges in our society today is the supply and demand of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The lack of true collective intelligence for the vaccine has shown us we have ways to go in our thinking because the research is still very much done in silos. We’re still in an old-world mindset when you think about the research and even now with the production for the vaccine. Every pharma company was racing to find a solution but all pretty much working in isolation. If pharma companies would leverage the collective intelligence and join forces to license the vaccine for true mass production, we could save more lives and make the world a safer place for all,” says Thomas.

As we enter into another year living a new normal boosted by a tremendous acceleration in digitalisation that has transformed the boardroom into the Zoom meeting room, we have a great tool within reach: the ability to use collective intelligence to solve complex challenges.

Our minds have now been opened to the possibilities of meeting with people around the world giving access to the knowledge of our peers at the click of a mouse.

We can tap into new ideas, into different generations of people, and people who have been doing exceptional things and it’s all available at our fingertips,

My big hope is that this pandemic will be leading to a realisation by many that we need to be leveraging collective intelligence and action for the betterment of society and protecting the people who need to be protected. Therefore, we can build back for better,” adds Thomas.

Leverage collective intelligence to make the world a better place for us all


A collaborative community created by and for international companies of the world’s leading businesses who choose to work together to make the world a better place for us all.

  • A community who believes in a humanist philosophy and approach with a focus on long term and lasting organisational development.
  • A highly engaged community where companies co-run their leadership development activities.
  • A place where companies from diverse and non-competing industries create a safe space among members for real strategic exchange to create purpose-driven, agile and sustainable organisations.
  • A place where companies leverage their collective intelligence to develop their leaders, co-creating programmes and knowledge rooted in the real world and driven by real-life challenges.

This is what CEDEP has been doing for 50 years!

CEDEP was founded 50 years ago by pioneering entrepreneurs. Many of the founding member organisations such as L’Oréal and Bekaert are still members today. The average duration of memberships among companies is 15 years. 

Our main focus has always been on helping organisations to move the needle as opposed to the individual only. We help them, via their participants/employees, to develop and implement strategies, become more competitive, sustainable, agile, purpose driven, whatever the main business driver of the organisation is,” says Thomas.

A collaborative learning community

CEDEP co-creates innovative, highly relevant and actionable learning focused on leadership development by bringing together the L&D experts from their member companies and their learning partners, experts and faculty from many of the world’s top business schools.

The member-driven executive education club is able to leverage its collective intelligence through active participation and unique and open exchange between member companies at community events, taking advantage of practise sharing between members tackling similar challenges in different industries. Thus, CEDEP goes further and dives deeper than a traditional business school.

“Through analysing what members are telling us, themes and topics emerge and then we’re creating workshops or co-designing sessions inter-company so it’s a really cool design and value principle driven by our members and a big difference to what you traditionally see of executive education programmes.  We are the facilitators in the learning process with organisations, asking the uncomfortable questions, challenging the status quo so that members find their own answers to their business questions,” says Thomas.

CEDEP builds an ecosystem of a learning community with shared interest in their mission.  They do not have resident faculty but instead a large pool of learning partners from industry experts to professors of the world’s top business schools from all over the world that bring very diverse backgrounds and expertise into the programme content.

This freedom of not having appointed faculty allows us to bring in new subject matter experts if there is a new topic evolving. We just look at who has an influence and is the leading mind in a particular space to associate with our ecosystem and that’s another significant difference in our approach,” adds Thomas.

The actionable learning driven by real-life challenges of the companies and the best practices and experiments of this international first-class faculty offer the biggest impacts and transformations for the learning participants.

Our world, more than ever, needs collective intelligence to move us further and faster in building back a better world. Collectively, if we put our minds together to solve complex problems, the faster we can solve them and change the progress of our lives. 

Companies have already found a safe place where they can have a collaborative learning community and leverage their collective intelligence to make the world a better place for all of us at CEDEP, where minds meet, grow and succeed together. 

To learn more about CEDEP:

Thomas is the Managing Director of CEDEP, the first Global Executive Education Club, a collaborative learning community which leverages collective intelligence to develop leaders and create purpose-driven, agile and sustainable organisations.

Click here to know more about Thomas Hinterseer

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