THINK TOGETHER: 21st Century Leaders need the smart strategic thinking that Collective Intelligence delivers.
A Google Golden Rule: The Many Are Smarter Than The Few
In a Newsweek article, “Google–Ten Golden Rules,” the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, and the company’s chief economist, Hal Varian, explained why Google taps the Collective Intelligence of its people to make decisions: “At Google, we adhere to the view that the many are smarter than the few, and therefore solicit a broad base of views before reaching any decision.”
When Schmidt says the many are smarter than the few he is confirming Google’s belief in the power and wisdom of tapping their Collective Intelligence.
Definition: COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE is the result of LISTENING to and SYNTHESIZING a broad spectrum of ideas, views, and opinions. This delivers deeper insights and smarter solutions than would typically be produced by an individual or an elite few.
The History of Collective Intelligence
In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowieck shares some compelling evidence about the power of Collective Intelligence. This is not a new phenomenon. In 1906, a British researcher visited a livestock fair and stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal’s weight. Nearly 800 people participated and the results were astonishing. The average of the 800 guesses was 1,197 pounds. That was only one 1 pound less than actual weight. In short, the average was 99.9% correct (although they did not consciously Think Together)
During the 1950s, the Delphi Method was developed to harness the Collective Intelligence of a group of experts for strategic thinking on national security issues. The method has since been widely used as a way to Think Together to increase the accuracy of forecasting in a wide variety of industries.
In my own work, I have witnessed numerous examples of how groups that Think Together, because of their combined knowledge, experience, and strategic thinking capacity, can be smarter than a brilliant individual or an elite few.
Groups that Think Together are better at predicting the future, solving complex problems, fostering innovation and coming to wise decisions.
When we Think Together, we can find the important needles in the ever-growing haystack of information. We can dig deeper into critical issues and generate smarter strategic
Think Together Success Factors
To avoid the pitfalls of ‘group think’ and maximize Collective Intelligence, consider four factors when you Think Together :
- Diversity of Inputs – Participants with different thinking styles, life experiences, expertise and information sources
- Psychological Safety – Sufficient trust among the participants that they feel free to express their ideas and share their knowledge
- Clarity of Approach – Clear, concise focal questions for the group and a roadmap of the process that will be used to answer them
- Multiple Iterations – A series of responses yielding successively deeper insights and smarter answers to the focal questions
How can we find the time?
You may be thinking, “Collective Intelligence sounds great, but it also sounds time-consuming. We are already suffering from time poverty with everything we have on our plate. How can we find the time for people to Think Together?”
The truth is you can’t if you rely on traditional paradigms for your Think Together sessions.
Case In Point: Our client, Weyerhaeuser Building Materials, wanted smarter strategic thinking to drive innovation and growth, but the complexity was daunting. They were organized around 12 regional markets across the U.S. and Canada with 70 locations.
The innovation leader, Phil Leupold, recognized the value of Collective Intelligence but he was also daunted by the challenge. He saw it as two-fold: “finding the time and avoiding the excessive cost of physically convening a large group to Think Together. This was simply not feasible on an ongoing basis.”
Virtually Think Together with the GEO Collaboration System
Weyerhaeuser’s solution to finding the time and avoiding excessive costs was the GEO Collaboration System. This powerful online platform enables geographically-dispersed and co-located groups to collaborate virtually in fast, facilitated Collective Intelligence Sessions.
By leveraging the GEO Collaboration System to virtually Think Together, Weyerhaeuser accomplished more in less time than they would have in traditional face-to-face meetings. They not only increased the speed and precision of idea sharing, they also achieved deeper insights and smarter strategic thinking.
There were two other significant benefits of the Collaboration System. It greatly simplified the logistics of getting the right minds together at the right times (while dramatically reducing costs). It also allowed a broad spectrum of thought to be quickly captured, synthesized and translated into action.
Leupold summed it up this way: “The GEO Collaboration System was a cost-effective way to tap our Collective Intelligence. It allowed us to rapidly converge on a winning strategy that everyone understood and bought into.”
THINK TOGETHER: A Cardinal Rule for 21st Century Leaders
21st Century Leaders need smarter strategic thinking. A proven solution is to tap the power of Collective Intelligence with the GEO Collaboration System.
21st Century Leaders, consider three questions:
- Does your organization Think Together frequently about your top challenges?
- Do you tap the Collective Intelligence of the right minds at the right times for strategic thinking?
- Do you have the online collaboration tools you need for frequent, far-reaching Forethought?
If “no” is the answer to any of these questions, Let’s Connect.