While organizations have talked about collective intelligence for decades, new communication technologies—especially the Internet—now allow huge numbers of people all over the planet to work together in new ways.
The MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) was initially established to research ways in which group intelligence could be determined. Research measured effectiveness, productivity and creativity of any group. With this, CCI confidently determined if a specific team would be productive, accurate and produce a satisfactory output.
On the basis of intelligence measurements, CCI also defined the g factor, c factor, psychology, social perceptiveness, psychometrics and personality ranges. All this in the hopes to make smarter and more effective teams.
So what made for a “smart” team?
For over a century, psychological scientists have found that individuals who perform well on some tasks also tend to learn quickly on others and researchers have developed so-called IQ tests in an attempt to measure this underlying “general intelligence.”
Initially, CCI assumed that teams with higher average IQs would outperform teams with lower average IQs. But, to their surprise, they found that putting lots of people with high IQs in one group did not guarantee that the group itself would have high collective intelligence.
Instead, their studies showed that social perceptiveness and social intelligence needed to be considered. Social perceptiveness was measured by people’s ability to judge others’ emotions based on pictures of their eyes. Groups with members who were highly socially attuned were more collectively intelligent than other groups.
And who were these socially perceptive persons? Women! Women were found to be inherently more socially perceptive. They could raise the collective intelligence quotient of their overall group. Their ability to be more socially perceptive allowed group members to communicate more effectively, ultimately allowing the group to capitalize on each member’s skills and experience.
It is not men versus women
Just having a woman the group does not mean instant success. Having no woman in the group does not mean failure. A group of any gender composition can be collectively intelligent. Successful groups communicate more and participate more equally than in groups where one or two people dominated the activity.
Now you have new opportunities (and challenges) to your human capital management. Have a look at your teams and organizations. Time for you to create crack teams and truly leverage collective intelligence.