None of us is as smart as all of us.

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Photo by Akson on Unsplash

Consider this — when groups of people come together to solve problems, they are committed to team performance, and that team ultimately has an intelligence score that can be measured and improved upon.

I recently read a white paper by MIT titled, “What Makes a Strong Team? Using Collective Intelligence to Predict Team Performance in League of Legends” and it demonstrated that (a) groups could be characterized by a collective intelligence (CI) factor that measures their ability to perform together on a wide range of different tasks, and (b) this factor can predict groups’ performance on other jobs in the future.

Researchers gave about 200 groups a wide range of different types of tasks and found that teams that did well on one kind of job tended to also do well on all of the other functions.

A factor analysis of the groups’ scores revealed a single, dominant, general factor explaining a large proportion of the variance in all of the groups’ scores, consistent with the amount of variance typically explained by the first factor in a battery of individual cognitive tasks [9]. They called this first factor “collective intelligence.” Collective intelligence was then shown to predict a team’s future performance on more complex tasks [57]. — MIT report

First off, CI can only exist if there is a “system” and there are “rules.” More specifically, there has to be a system or container where the game is played, and there have to be rules of engagement (everyone needs to know where to show up and how to contribute). In the case of the MIT study, the parameters were built around tasks in a popular multi-player game called League of Legends.

Note: Just because people are individually playing the same game that doesn’t mean that Collective Intelligence exists — people have to agree that they are “collectively” working towards a common goal.

  1. The corporate world is widely known for its command-and-control management where the workplace leans on star players. Individual intelligence is a priority, in this case, and its used to bolster company/departments via top-down leadership across teams through dictation and control.
  2. In the case of academia, for example, students show up with the individual goal in mind of passing the class, those students are not a collectively intelligent unit because they aren’t inherently working together (unless they are).

*The above are two examples of environments where groups could work together to build upon the collective intelligence of the team. However, if individuals aren’t committed to working together to achieve a common goal then they are relying on an inferior strategy to drive results because nobody is smarter than everybody.

According to the MIT study — groups composed of individuals with the ability to perceive subtle emotional and interpersonal cues are better equipped to develop higher levels of CI. Women score higher on tests of such skills, on average, explaining in part why having more women in a group raises CI.

Additionally, teams that communicate more as well as more equally are also more collectively intelligent, highlighting the importance of group interaction patterns that allow groups to take advantage of the skills and resources embedded in all team members.

In summation, more communication, diverse teams with women on them, and emotionally intelligent individuals raises Collective Intelligence.

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Work Smarter Together.

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