people putting together pieces of the puzzle for collective intelligence

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Why collective intelligence matters and how companies can build it

February 23, 2018

Advanced Learning

The brightest minds and biggest disruptors have always led innovation and changed the shape of business. But over the years, both studies and real-life examples have shown that the “power of many” can be much more forceful, fostered by a shift in how new generations work. In many ways, collective intelligence is the future of organisations everywhere.

Collective intelligence is the ability to harness the power of a group to solve problems or achieve goals that an individual could not accomplish alone. While the concept itself isn’t new, an increasing number of leading companies are recognising it as one of the most powerful tools to drive their innovation and growth.

The technology revolution – particularly the Internet – has helped bring collective wisdom to the fore, allowing businesses to tap into their people’s knowledge with much more ease. For companies, aggregation mechanisms, such as prediction markets and collective intelligence platforms, can help funnel a diversity of opinions, localised knowledge and independent thinking towards a common goal.


5 ways to build collective intelligence

According to the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, there are 5 aspects that lead smart teams to build collective intelligence within an organisation:

1. Diversity
Diversity was found to be a better indicator of collective wisdom than the IQ of each of the group’s members. It was also found to increase if the group had more women (although not exclusively women).

2. Social Perception and Sensitivity
Scoring highly on the list of importance was social sensitivity, along with egalitarian norms in a team, i.e. equal distribution of conversation turn-taking, where no one steals the limelight.

3. Sharing and Connective Intelligence
Sharing helps build the best teams. If each member actively seeks out knowledge and information, and feels empowered to share it, they can open up a collaborative discussion.

4. Joint Attention
This cognitive mechanism enables individuals to share views, ideas and attitudes when focusing on issues together, something that cannot be replicated by individual attention.

5. Hire Positive, Collaborative Team Members
Hiring good people should be a priority for any company, but positivity is also a key quality in building collective intelligence. Hiring those with high social sensitivity and who openly collaborate increases the overall performance of the team.

Although the success of collective intelligence depends on the people themselves, its implementation is also reliant on a structure within an organisation to bring about collaboration, mobilising them to address the company’s main innovation challenges.

Learn more about collective intelligence here.

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