Lightbulb moment that led to Enswarm

Nov. 26, 2015

We’re all familiar with the story of Isaac Newton and the apple, and we’ve probably all experienced a ‘lightbulb moment’ at some point, but what was it for Enswarm?



Here Founder and CEO Joe Kay explains:

A few years ago I attended a lecture from an Army General who was discussing the difficulties of fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The main issue was that they didn’t operate within a traditional command and control structure; instead they focussed more on creating cells, which were much more flexible.

The General was trying to understand different methods of problem solving within the military that didn’t rely on hierarchy. It just so happened that I was reading a book at the time, The Smart Swarm by Peter Miller, which delivers a fascinating look at how different types of animals – such as ants, bees, termites, and sparrows – go about tackling complex problems by leveraging their collective “intelligence”.

This got me thinking: What can humans take from the examples of these animals?

If humans could take inspiration from the lessons of animals that manage to communicate, participate, and ultimately work together so well, then the end result could be a very valuable tool for people to collaborate much more effectively.

This was where I started my journey designing what has ultimately become Enswarm: a platform for increasing the effectiveness of collaborative problem solving. But it hasn’t been without problems.

The main issue that we encountered was the fact that humans are much more single-minded than animals. Whereas bees and ants are naturally focussed on the needs of the collective, in a business environment humans will primarily focus on their needs before those of the group. However this presented us with the opportunity to design our software in such a way that it aligns individual motivation (our natural instinct as humans), with group success; a common trait in bee hives and ant colonies. To achieve this our platform also has good leadership and best team work practices hard coded in to it, to make sure it always produces the best result for the team.

My ultimate aim for Enswarm is to provide everyone with the tools they need to be able to give individuals, no matter who they are, the opportunity to get their voice heard and have their influence felt in a much wider group. Enswarm exists because I believe the world needs a platform for all people to be able to engage in constructive, bias free, collaborative problem solving in a way that provides us all with the opportunity to make a difference to the issues that matter to us.

Great summary of lessons from The Smart Swarm (