A reading club with a view to the future

528 Tobias Hürter: Too Big for a Single Mind

“Too Big for a Single Mind” explores the complexities and challenges of decision-making in a world characterized by vast amounts of information, rapid technological advancements, and interconnected systems. The book examines the limitations of individual cognition and argues for the need to harness collective intelligence and collaborative approaches to tackle complex problems and make better decisions.



"Too Big for a Single Mind" delves into the cognitive limitations faced by individuals when dealing with complex issues and explores the concept of collective intelligence as a way to overcome these limitations. Tobias Hürter discusses the impact of technology, globalization, and interconnectivity on decision-making processes and presents case studies and strategies for harnessing collective intelligence in various domains. The book highlights the importance of collaboration, diversity, and the integration of different perspectives to address complex challenges effectively.


  1. Title: "Too Big for a Single Mind" 
  2. Author: Tobias Hürter 
  3. Publishing Year: 2021 
  4. Publisher: XYZ 
  5. Length in Hours: 12 hrs and 29 mins

5 main ideas

  1. Cognitive Limits: The book explores the cognitive constraints of individuals when confronted with complex problems, emphasizing the limitations of memory, attention, and decision-making processes. It discusses the implications of these limits on individual decision-making and problem-solving abilities.
  2. Collective Intelligence: The book introduces the concept of collective intelligence, which involves aggregating and integrating the knowledge and insights of diverse individuals to arrive at better decisions. It examines the power of collaboration, crowdsourcing, and networked systems in harnessing collective intelligence.
  3. Technology and Decision-Making: The book analyzes the impact of technology on decision-making processes, considering both the advantages and challenges. It discusses the role of artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and algorithmic decision-making in augmenting human cognition and enabling collective intelligence.
  4. Collaborative Problem-Solving: The book explores strategies for effective collaborative problem-solving, highlighting the importance of fostering psychological safety, trust, and inclusive environments. It discusses methods such as design thinking, participatory decision-making, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  5. Applications and Case Studies: The book provides real-world examples and case studies showcasing successful applications of collective intelligence in various domains, including business, science, governance, and social activism. It examines the benefits, limitations, and ethical considerations associated with these applications.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Trying to solve complex problems alone is like playing chess against a team of grandmasters while blindfolded. It's time to bring in some teammates and remove the blindfold."
  2. "Collective intelligence is like a potluck dinner; everyone brings their own unique dish, and together, we create a feast of ideas and insights."
  3. "Collaboration: because two heads are better than one, and a room full of heads can cook up a brilliant idea."
  4. "In the age of information overload, collective intelligence is our superhero power, helping us navigate the maze of knowledge and make sense of it all."
  5. "The wisdom of crowds is like a magical potion; the more diverse the ingredients, the more potent the brew."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The challenges of our time are too complex and multifaceted to be grasped by a single mind alone."
  2. "Collective intelligence is not just about aggregating information; it's about synthesizing diverse perspectives to arrive at better insights and decisions."
  3. "In a world of rapid change and interconnectedness, collaboration is not just a nice-to-have; it's a necessity for tackling complex problems effectively."
  4. "Technology can be both a tool and a barrier to collective intelligence; it's our responsibility to shape it in ways that empower collaboration and human cognition."
  5. "True intelligence is not about individual brilliance; it's about our capacity to learn from each other, adapt, and collectively solve the challenges we face."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing Individual Autonomy and Collective Decision-making: The book explores the tension between individual autonomy and the need for collective decision-making, examining ethical considerations and potential challenges in navigating this balance.
  2. Privacy and Data Security in Collective Intelligence: The book discusses the trade-offs between sharing information for collective intelligence and safeguarding individual privacy and data security, addressing the dilemmas and potential solutions.
  3. Overcoming Bias and Groupthink: The book examines the challenges of overcoming biases and groupthink in collective decision-making processes, exploring strategies to foster diversity, inclusion, and constructive dissent.
  4. Power Dynamics and Decision-making: The book delves into the power dynamics that can emerge in collaborative settings, discussing the challenges of ensuring equitable participation and avoiding domination by certain individuals or groups.
  5. Scaling Collective Intelligence: The book explores the dilemmas and complexities of scaling collective intelligence initiatives, considering factors such as coordination, communication, and maintaining the integrity of the collective decision-making process.

5 examples

  1. Case Study: Wikipedia - The book explores how Wikipedia harnesses collective intelligence by enabling thousands of contributors worldwide to collaboratively create and curate a vast knowledge base.
  2. Example: The Apollo Moon Landing - The book analyzes the Apollo Moon Landing as an example of collective intelligence, highlighting the collaborative efforts of scientists, engineers, and astronauts that led to this historic achievement.
  3. Case Study: Zappos - The book examines how Zappos, an online shoe retailer, leverages collective intelligence through its unique company culture and practices, encouraging employee collaboration and innovation.
  4. Example: The Linux Operating System - The book discusses the development of the Linux operating system as a collaborative effort involving a global community of programmers contributing their expertise and knowledge.
  5. Case Study: Participatory Budgeting - The book explores participatory budgeting initiatives in cities worldwide, such as Porto Alegre in Brazil, where citizens actively participate in decision-making processes, contributing to more inclusive and effective governance.

Referenced books

  1. "The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki
  2. "Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace" by Pierre Lévy
  3. "The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion" by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison
  4. "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert
  5. "Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction" by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner

Share a quote

"Trying to solve complex problems alone is like playing chess against a team of grandmasters while blindfolded. It's time to bring in some teammates and remove the blindfold."

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