According to MIT Collective intelligence is defined «as a property of groups that emerges from the coordination and collaboration of team members».

Prof. Malone defines a supermind as “a group of individuals acting in ways that seem intelligent.”
As he points out, throughout history, groups of people working together as superminds have been responsible for the vast majority of human achievements.
Groups, like individuals, exhibit characteristic levels of intelligence which can be measured and used to predict the group’s performance.
This collective intelligence is a good indicator of potential team performance and a far better indicator of success than any individual’s performance.

So what sets apart these smart teams and how do they build collective intelligence? In fact, just having a bunch of smart people in a group wasn’t quite enough to make the group smart.
In their research MIT have found that group satisfaction, group cohesion, group motivation and individual intelligence of team members, things that you might expect to determine performance, were not correlated with collective intelligence.

The research suggests there are five ways smart teams build collective intelligence.

1. Diversity. Groups with women perform better because they have higher social sensibility.

“Group intelligence is not strongly tied to either the average intelligence of the members or the team’s smartest member. » as said by Thomas Malone, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence have found that diversity of the group was a better indicator of collective intelligence than the IQs of individual group members and that collective intelligence increased if the a group had more women, though not exclusively women. This may be explained by differences in social sensitivity, which is related to collective intelligence.

Groups should be diverse and inclusive with a high social sensibility, including women because they have a higher sense of social sensibility.

2. Social Perception and Sensitivity.  Equalitarian norms and equal distribution of conversational turn taking

Even if studies show that women tend to score higher on social sensitivity than men what MIT’s researchers have found it’s that it’s really important is to have people who are socially sensitive, whether they are men or women.

The research also highlighted the importance of egalitarian norms in a team.
Collective intelligence was positively correlated with groups with higher average social sensitivity and equal distribution of conversational turntaking.
In essence where a few people dominated the discussion and there were no stars.

There is also ongoing research into the impact of technology and more remote working on collective intelligence.
Initial indications are that equality and sensitivity are equally important with online communication.
Remote groups also required same equality and sensitivity.

3. Sharing and Connective Intelligence

No one is as smart as everyone. The best teams have individuals that openly and actively share knowledge.
It is hard to read everything or stay updated as an individual but within a team and with the right tools you can leverage members to scan and research the environment and share information.
Here is where new techonologies allows remote teams to work and increase collective intelligence.

Members actively seek out knowledge and information, which reinforces their empowerment, the group validate, synthesise and share information that is relevant to their team.
By commenting and opening up a discussion they can also provoke a collaborative discussion.

“While we often overestimate the potential of AI in doing this, I think we often underestimate the potential power of hyperconnectivity among the seven billion or so amazingly powerful information processors called human brains that are already on our planet, not to mention the millions of other computers that don’t include AI,” writes Prof. Malone. “As all the people and computers on our planet get more and more closely connected, it’s becoming increasingly useful to think of all the people and computers on the planet as a kind of global brain.” Group intelligence with supercomputers and AI could act as supper brain in the future.

4. Joint Attention 

Joint attention is a cognitive mechanism is the shared focus of two individuals on an object.
This cognitive mechanism enables individuals to share views, ideas and attitudes when focusing on issues together, something that cannot be done by only individual attention.
Remote teams also require a high joint attention to keep cohesion and

5. Hire Positive, Collaborative Team Members

MIT’s research found that bringing people into a team who are negative can significantly reduce a team’s collective intelligence.
Look for positive people, with high social sensitivity and people that openly collaborate and share should be also key in recruiting people to build collective intelligence.
These may seem obvious criteria but it can be easy to overlook their importance in team performance, a bad appointment can significantly reduce a team’s collective intelligence and performance.

Worldwide and across industries, Management 2.0 is turning the hierarchical management pyramid upside down to lay the foundations. Everyone is responsible to bring ideas, challenges, solutions and innovation to get results.
New answers can be found when you harness the collective intelligence of your people. It is time for you, as a manager, to unleash their hidden potential and find the silver bullets that will make your business differentiate and grow.
Technology and connectivity gives us the possibility to connect remote groups and build and find better and faster solutions to our companies.

Inigo Mayoral, founder of

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