Editor’s note: Strength in numbers

July 23, 2019 -  By
Photo: Seth Jones

Photo: Seth Jones

I’m back in the office after a crazy month of travel. June took me all over the country (and briefly into Canada and within eyeshot of Mexico), but happily the month ended with a weeklong family vacation to South Padre Island, Texas.

My last trip before vacation to Sunburn City was to the 67th Outdoor Power Equipment Institute annual meeting in Park City, Utah. I looked around the banquet room at the beautiful Stein Eriksen Lodge, filled with a bunch of movers and shakers in the equipment industry, and wondered how I found myself there. Even though I didn’t feel like I belonged, that didn’t stop me from taking good notes of the various lectures.

Two presentations stood out to me — the first from Dr. Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics; the other, from Dr. Lior Zoref, an expert on crowdsourcing.

Beaulieu is president of ITR Economics and serves as an economic advisor to numerous trade associations. For an economist, he has a shrewd sense of humor (maybe I shouldn’t characterize all economists as unfunny, but I just know my economics professors at Kansas University made staying awake a Herculean task). Beaulieu’s twin brother, Brian, will be presenting at GIE+EXPO this year — no telling if Brian or Alan is the funnier of the twins, but I imagine both know their stuff when it comes to economic forecasting.

Beaulieu’s talk hit on a variety of topics, from what makes a good website to the possibility of upcoming wars. His immediate forecast for the economy is that it will stall over the next year, but then experience an uptick in the second half of 2020. This was only the beginning. To learn more, you can visit ITR Economics’ website, follow @ITROutlook on Twitter or hit that presentation at GIE+EXPO.

The other talk that really stood out to me was from Zoref, author of the book “Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything.” A former vice president at Microsoft, Zoref has given a TED talk, been invited to speak at the White House and is instantly likable with his positive, we-can-do-this attitude.

Zoref’s key idea: None of us is as smart as all of us. “When you ask a big group of people a question, you might be surprised with the results,” he told us. He showed how this system of collective intelligence worked with his TED talk — a room full people were collectively able to estimate the weight of an ox to within a few pounds.

There are a few caveats, of course. The crowd you’re asking must be the right kind of crowd. No manipulators allowed — someone to sway the crowd into their way of thinking. It also must be a big, diverse crowd.

As I was scribbling notes, I asked myself, “but how do you find this crowd to survey?” Zoref mentioned Facebook, YouTube and a website called Quora.com where you can pose your burning questions to the world.

But then I realized — we already have this crowd. It’s all of us. It’s you and me, my team here at Landscape Management, and our collective readership of 65,000-plus experts in the industry.

So what are our biggest problems, and how do we solve them? Hopefully every issue of LM is full of solutions to problems. But how can we use our collective knowledge to better solve our problems?

I think step one is to agree on the problems we’re facing as an industry. I’ll open this can of worms. What industry problems would you like to see us tackle in future issues of LM? Email me, tweet at us (@LandscapeMgmt) or post a comment to us on Facebook. Use “LM strength in numbers” as the subject or hashtag. And we’ll see where it takes us.

Zoref challenged the room to dream big, to make our goals known and to get to work achieving those goals. When a challenge arises, don’t try to handle it alone … share the problem with a diverse group to help get it solved. “We are smarter than me,” he said, gesturing to the room full of attendees.

Let’s dream big and give it a try.

This article is tagged with , and posted in 0719, Editor's Note
Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist of 2014 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 18 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

1 Comment on "Editor’s note: Strength in numbers"

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  1. Kris Kiser says:

    Seth

    Thank you for your piece – exactly the result we’re looking for – getting attendees to recognize and address challenges and opportunities. So glad you and your team were able to join us. Hope to see you at next year’s meeting in San Juan. The speaker lineup is equally impressive – Michael Smerconish, Mitch Joel and Mark Bowden.