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3 Ideas to Foster Collective Intelligence


L'intelligence collective, au coeur de la performance de vos équipes


Putting one’s experience, skills, strengths, and know-how at the service of a group to achieve a shared goal: the concept of collective intelligence in management is increasingly being discussed. But concretely, how should a manager position themselves to encourage it? Here are 3 tips for developing collective intelligence in a company.

Strength in Unity.

And it’s not just in Belgium where you’ll hear this phrase.

It’s also true in business.

Coming together to achieve a common goal promotes synergy, innovation, collective motivation, and even personal growth.

Animals understand this well. Ants have an incredible sense of collaboration. To prevent and limit traffic jams, they use simple behavioral rules and adapt the spatial organization of flows to environmental constraints. In a beehive, each bee has its role to clean, feed, or collect pollen.

In humans too, collective intelligence is a wonderful driver of co-creativity.

How can it be fostered in a business? Here are three pieces of advice.


Collective Intelligence: Definition

But first, what is collective intelligence?

Collective intelligence represents a community’s ability to bring together intelligence and knowledge in order to move towards a common goal. Creating interaction within a given group, collective intelligence refers to the pooling of skills, creativity, and thinking abilities of different individuals in service of a common objective.

Collective intelligence empowers the group to go further, be more creative, innovative, and find alternatives or solutions to a problem. It contributes to personal growth and well-being at work. A significant majority of employees believe that collaborative work has a positive impact on motivation.


Forming a Group with Complementary Skills

Collaborators with similar profiles, strengths, and weaknesses have little to contribute to group dynamics. On the other hand, a group with complementary skills fosters collective intelligence. Each collaborator can contribute based on their abilities and personality.


Rethink Hierarchical Relationships

To develop collective intelligence, reconsider hierarchical relationships. Disregard hierarchy and listen to individual initiatives.

But be cautious: valuing collective intelligence within a group certainly doesn’t imply the disappearance of the manager. Quite the opposite. The team leader has an important role to play in fostering collective intelligence. They act as a conductor, encourage dialogue, challenge ideas, maintain team cohesion, and provide constructive criticism.

Of course, the manager relies on collective thinking to make a decision. But remember that ultimately, they remain the sole decision-maker. Their responsibility is delicate: making choices while considering sometimes contradictory contributions. Their mission is ultimately to opt for the best solution based on the goal to be achieved, not to aim for consensus at all costs.

To foster collective intelligence within their team, the manager must be close to their collaborators. This allows them to evaluate different strengths and skills. Qualities of a good manager include:

  • Active listening
  • Kindness
  • Empathy
  • Transparency
  • Delegation ability
  • Natural authority
  • Availability
  • Emotional intelligence


Implement the Right Tools to Promote Exchanges

Open space, workshops, coffee debates, conferences, digital solutions… Tools exist to enhance group dynamics, develop governance capabilities, or amplify creativity.

Other techniques can also be used to avoid untimely interventions and promote exchanges:

  • In meetings, sit in a circle. This arrangement encourages respectful conversations.
  • Practice round-robin speaking. This prevents extroverted individuals from dominating over introverted colleagues.
  • Support nonviolent communication to improve communication within the group.
  • Organize team-building workshops to foster cohesion and strengthen relationships among team members.


In Conclusion

The current world often pushes employees in a company to develop individual performances.

However, together, we go much further.

The development of collective intelligence has become a necessity today. Fostering and mobilizing skills, working together, diversifying knowledge and ideas… Collaborative work is on the rise. And that’s a good thing.

To foster collective intelligence, the manager must rely on the skills of their collaborators. Exchanging, involving, encouraging initiative: these are small actions that will help the company achieve its goals and ultimately, grow.