What is Collaborative Intelligence?


Intelligence is not only the data and information that you can turn into knowledge. Intelligence more widely speaking is the capacity for logic and comprehension. Therefore other types of intelligence theories are emerging. One such intelligence is the emotional intelligence, which we have explained in our previous article. In this article we want to add some more information on collaborative intelligence and explain what it entails.

For me personally I think that the book “Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently” by Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur has defined the term collaborative intelligence (CQ) the strongest. Some of you might have already read it but if you did not come across this subject before, maybe you’ll enjoy their insight.

The Impact of Collaborative Intelligence

We are in a time of change. Humans have always been living in times of change though. Just the presence always feels the strongest. In companies you can witness cultural changes too. You can see that some individuals are trying to push trough with methods such as the social enterprise (also known as enterprise 2.0). Methods that try to shake off old ways and try to leverage the digital age in order to collaborate with not only people from their office but from all over the world. Flat waterfall org-charts become wild social connection radials and it doesn’t stop there. Often these people create networks beyond the borders of a single organization and leverage expertise within and outside of their formal circles. One such movement, that is growing based on it’s usefulness, is “Working Out Loud“.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb

Unfortunately most of us did not learn collaboration with others in school to a degree that could help us with our working environment now. Certainly there were projects here and there to work together on something, but these did not foster collaboration usually. It was about producing something that was requested as fast as possible in an adequate quality and closing the activities in time. At that time doing only that seemed hard enough, but as an adult this hardly gets us anywhere. We need to face it: We lack education on how to work with others.

These social enterprises foster a collaborative economy. Individuals definitely still count but the product of the team weighs more. Knowledge should be shared, whether its dry information on how processes should be facilitated or if it’s sharing past experiences made. Freely following the motto, that we fail only when we don’t learn from mistakes. When many thoughts and ideas come together, they create new ideas just like that. It doesn’t cost money – you just need to create a foundation for your staff and teams. This is also nothing for your quick-wins, because changes in the work culture of a company can take up to ten years from “the new thing” to the “normal way to do stuff”.

Where Is the Value?

Nowadays things aren’t as black and white as they might used to be. Value isn’t only about physical things anymore. Ideas and innovation are among the strongest shapers in the modern world of economics. Every week a new startup starts business that theoretically could have the potential to take over your entire industry in a ridiculously small time frame of only a few years. Don’t look like that.. it happened and it keeps happening. It doesn’t save you to be the major manufacturer or the best seller of products and services. You need to read the market, smell it, feel it and anticipate changes. You need to facilitate ideas into the product of tomorrow and in best case scenario that involves many people, not just one person with an R&D badge.

We Are All Different

Yes we are indeed and that might seem like a problem to some but in the process of design and innovation, you need as much diversity into a group as possible. Mix and shake across genders, believes, organizational roles and different degrees of technology affinity. This all helps and even if you would not do that, we are yet all unique and have the potential for entirely different ideas because our brains work in different cognitive patterns and we made different experiences in the past.

Idea Pool

You can also establish a pool for ideas. Whether that is a physical box or a virtual part of your enterprise social network doesn’t matter. What matters is that everyone feels the motivation to formulate ideas and shares them. Ideas should be shared and not be a personal asset to carry around in your bag. You should just make sure that the ideas are somehow managed and categorized so they can be looked up on demand based on a particular subject. Think “Idea-Google”! This is especially important because often someone has an idea and the person can possibly not identify it’s value because he or she cannot apply the idea in their immediate environment. However someone from an entirely different department find that particular idea to be a match to their problem at hand. They can then meet and add more substance to this idea and develop it into an innovative project to deliver some serious improvement.

What Can I Do?

You can always move some things by leading with example. Do share your ideas and knowledge. Be interested in the problems of others and join conversations if you can add value. Your time is a holy good but it’s an investment really. Asking questions is good too! Never stop asking. Asking questions is one of the primary sources for innovation.

Be aware of your own cognitive patterns and map out how you think and highlight blind spots. Feel free to invite others to the process and add them into the map. Add bit for bit and person by person. Your product will be a valuable manual to understand others and know how they think. This will help you in lean communication, constructive communication and also the overall ideation processes. If you are not certain of something, just accept uncertainty. That is no problem at all. Why be terrorized by chaos and the unknown? All these are components that drive innovation.

Take Away

Everybody is unique. Everybody is important. You don’t have to understand everything. Diversity in all aspects increases potential idea value and therefore organizational sustainability. If you are able to and know how to help – then help!

Further Reading

Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently
Dawna Markova, Angie McArthur
Collaborative Intelligence Thinking with People Who Think Differently Book Cover
Photo credit: Foundry Co / SkeezeChristine Sponchia

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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