There is what one client called "a ferocious rigor" in CI's approach. Top-tier organizations around the world have put that rigor to work in ingenious debriefs, website creation and scenario-planning exercises. A few of these are described below.

Most large consulting firms pursue some system of engagement debriefs. Their intention is to capture lessons learned from work done for clients in a way that enables others inside their firms to accelerate their climb up learning curves. But too typically the format of these debriefs is so time-consuming and complex that adding to the store of knowledge loses out to the tyranny of billable hours by which partners live and die.

For a large international consultancy Collective Intelligence created short, narrative "after action" reports that defined the experience of serving clients while memories were still fresh—without compromising client confidentiality.

Working in partnership with the firm's leaders to define their intelligence agenda, CI used its research skills to prepare pointed questions for partners soon after they rolled off a client study. That juiced the consultancy's approach to debriefs by putting new insights into circulation at once. And it did so with a minimal investment of partner time.

By packaging insights in short, crisply written accounts—not in stultifying PowerPoint slides—CI assured that these essential lessons of client work were absorbed, talked about and put into practice. Posted on the firm's intranet, these "fast debriefs" were linked to targeted elements of the firm's trove of industry research, maximizing its visibility.

A major international aid organization wished to transform itself from a traditional dispenser of funds into an active partner of local development agencies in creating permanent social change. To do it the organization first needed to elaborate its own best practice in economic development. Making the case for change depended on it.

Collective Intelligence worked alongside the client to establish a "transformation framework"—the actions it needed to take if it were to recreate its organization in support of a new mission. The framework provided structure for the case studies CI subsequently produced describing work already taking place across the organization.

Constructed as lively narratives, these case studies have acquired a loyal audience. They don't just illustrate the value of the new strategy but provide a manual for its implementation. They serve as platforms for a program of webinars enabling the organization to dig deep into the how-to's of change. The consequence has been accelerated transformation and a greater sense of cohesion than the organization has ever known.

Foreign affairs agencies of the US federal government saw a need to devise a shared set of strategic touchstones to align their missions in the years to come. Before that could happen agencies holding quite different portfolios needed a common understanding of the uncertainties likely to confront America in the next two decades.

CI partnered with Futures Strategy Group and Booz Allen Hamilton in applying a wholly different approach to scenario planning, one focused not on placing bets on likely futures but on devising strategies strong enough to adapt in an unpredictable world.

The work began with intensive interviews of more than 200 experts—bankers, theologians, rocket scientists, generals, epidemiologists. Their insights were distilled into multiple possible "worlds" that participants in subsequent workshops—drawn from in and out of government—were asked to inhabit. CI helped lead these workshops in structured free association, capturing the expert perspectives of participants, drawing out the dominant themes and developing a list of recommendations—a compelling "serious game" that originated forceful tactical supports for strategy suited to an uncertain age.

A top-five international recruiter realized there was competitive advantage for its core business in creating an internal knowledge-management function. But what should it look like? More to the point, how should it pay for itself?

CI was engaged to help the recruiter define the nature of its need and to name the elements of an internal KM practice.

The business case virtually made itself. If the firm continued to view search assignments as single-impact events and not as interrelated parts of client relationships—as most recruiters do—it would be forever at risk of losing lucrative search opportunities. Without knowledge sharing the client could not prioritize risks or the growth opportunities available to it. Without knowledge sharing the firm exposed itself to the risk of slower growth. No investment could have a better rationale.

Today the firm is able to "map" leadership talent in companies around the world by identifying individuals responsible for the specific successes of business areas. It analyzes how its client's competitors—in particular their nontraditional competitors—win new business.

Knowledge sharing is also hurrying the firm's rising profile as a strategy consultant—screening acquisition candidates, for example, by providing insights into their managements. Meanwhile, knowledge sharing has given birth to competitive-intelligence products that enable the firm to approach clients with perspectives they need right now rather than waiting out a three-month study.

A financial-services startup engaged CI to collaborate in developing the design and content of its first website. But in trying to answer an obvious question—"What business do you think you're in?"—it emerged that the partnership team was in disagreement about crucial aspects of their business offering.

What began as a conventional website-development project emerged as unmistakably central to the support of the young company's business strategy, as well as a kind of group therapy for the management team.

In its collaboration with the company Collective Intelligence kept attention on explicating the value proposition behind each of the firm's services. What resulted was a better website and clarity about the company's offering. Of more sustaining value has been a shared vision among the leadership team about their business mission. The consequence has been accelerated growth.

Private-equity and venture-capital firms compete for investments on more than their ability to provide capital. They win deals on their reputations for nurturing the companies they invest in. But with portfolio managers spread thin among multiple investments they have little time to develop—much less apply—a coherent expression of why their firm stands out.

Collective Intelligence recently brainstormed with a VC to deliver best practice customized to the individual companies it invests in. The goal is bumping up return on invested capital by transmitting best practice without a costly investment of partner time.

CI will identify the firm's preferred approach to operational processes common in all young companies, which frequently waste an unknowable amount of money fashioning nonstandard solutions to obligatory functions like legal, accounting, governance, board notes and so forth. This inconsistency has immediate effect on leakage out of an investment.

More dramatically, CI can capture insights into strategy development and organization building unique to the investing firm. These intellectual assets can be adapted as a kind of custom consulting channel—delivered, for example, via streaming or interactive video. Secondary benefits of such codification will be articles and books that will raise the investor's profile among young companies.