Synthetron wisdom of crowds via evolutionary (propagated) consensus in online discussions: experiences and challenges


 Synthetron wisdom of crowds via evolutionary (propagated) consensus in online discussions:

experiences and challenges

Joanne Celens (Synthetron)


Synthetron the company

Synthetron smart listening solutions helps organistations to efficiently engage large groups in feedback, reflection and co-creation on specific topics so
The purpose is to get “the wisdom of the crowd”  to be able to accelerate change and reduce risk of failure: this is the instant insight in the real and for the participants most relevant values, ideas and opinions and suggestions.  Clients are typically multinationals (Shell, BNP, RWE as well as governments and NGO – G1000 online part)

The approach of proactively crowd source via 1 hour real time online brainstorm-like conversations  that are moderated, interactive , anonymous, fully scalable (10-1000) and collaborative conclusive.  The software is based on a participants organization in a smart set of virtual overlapping discussion tables (to manage scale) where participants share, react and evaluate each other’s ideas and an evolutionary propagation of these ideas: weak ideas stay at the table and ideas that get support move on to more tables as long as they keep maintaining support


The presentation:

The presentation we will share how these  synthetron discussions work- the mathematical model behind the software. Share experience  on ways to get the best wisdom, and the limits we are confronted with, the different propagation modes , share what the synthetron database of hundreds of these discussions is learning us,  and explore ways to further improve the wisdom gathering process.




  •  J.Celens, C. Shovlin “White paper: Listen to Learn , Learn to Listen”, april 2008, Wainhouse conference Berlin, 
  • Paul Verdin,Eric Cabocel,Joanne Celens& François Faelli,  “Making Change work What Managers, Executives and Staff Tell us that Really Matters “ ,Review of Business and Economics, 2011/2 ·
  • Elektronisches unternehmenskommunikation, Konzepte un Best Practices zur Kultur und Führung, Deutscher Fachverlag , ISBN 978-3-86641-078-7 Frank Martin Hein, chapter 4;3;10 Synthetron ein neues Niveau fûr Blackboard –Systeme pagina 259 -270 , co author Joanne Celens en Catherine Shovlin
  • Faeita, B., Huberman, B. and Verhaeghe, P., “Scalable online Discussions as Listening Technology”, System Sciences (2006), HICSS ‘06, Proceedings of the 39th Annual Hawaii International Conference.

The Speaker CV Joanne Celens:

Born in Belgium, Joanne has studied business (handels ingenieur) and international relations (KU Leuven and Johns Hopkins University). Joanne worked for Royal Dutch Shell, where she held various international line positions in trading, marketing, strategy and general management over an 18 year career. The experience of leading virtual teams as well as several major change programs at Shell stimulated Joanne’s interest in collaborative listening and engagement in change. In 2003, she left Shell to co-found Synthetron, where she first focused on business development and assumed the role of CEO in 2007. Joanne has a broad international management experience, deep insights in change and strategy alignment. Joanne has lived, studied and worked in many countries and speaks well Dutch (mother tongue), French, English, Italian and ok German

Slides of the talk (partial):