Feeling stuck in non-decision making with your team? Do you find that your company is moving too slowly? You need to set up a collective intelligence methodology.
What is Collective Intelligence?
Collective intelligence, loosely defined by Wikipedia, is the “shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making”.
It has been explained, in terms of quantifying its effects, as 1+1=3. It illustrates the fact that sharing ideas and points of view generate more results than if each individual works alone and merge their results.
Here’s why you should invest in collective intelligence to improve collaboration and productivity within your business, and which strategies you can use to achieve it!
Why collective intelligence is important for startups?
In a startup, you are working to design a product and to solve a customer’s need in a way that creates value. The simple fact that working with partners makes it easier to define this value, should be enough argument.
There are many methods for generating ideas and setting the stage for a collective intelligence exercise, but there is one hard and fast rule that applies to all: take it offsite.
Moving your session away from the office also moves it away from the everyday, away from work that is done on a daily basis, and opens the door to new perspectives and new ideas.
Whether you do it for a half-day or a full day, getting staff together to brainstorm offsite at least once a year is critical to any startup hoping to be innovative, creative and inspired.
One strategy to inspire collective intelligence is to start by having participants work on a topic completely unrelated to the task at hand.
Choose a series of words, a task, that is completely unrelated to the product. This will encourage people to brainstorm based on their own experiences, habits, hobbies and so on. It will allow them to let their minds roam, to move away from the product and their daily focus that will free their creativity.
At some point, you will turn them back toward the product and features that might apply, but you will find that this creative exercise allows them to think outside the box. They will come up with creative ideas they would not have otherwise.
Another strategy is what we call the mastermind. Using this strategy, you ask one person to be in the hot seat for a period of time.
During this exercise, they will explain what their goals and struggles are, where they are currently, and how they got to that point.
The others in the group will then share ideas to help that person solve their challenges and help them approach the problems with a new point of view.
Invite the client
A good way to drive innovation, based on what clients want, is to invite them to a session. This way, they can share their ideas and ask questions in real-time. It can be very useful in focusing the team on a shared path and vision.
Another strategy involves coming up with a list of specific questions and then breaking the larger group into smaller teams.
Each team is going to brainstorm and discuss a given question, and a notetaker will record the thoughts and ideas generated. Before the next question is handed out, the groups should be remixed so that different people sit together at the table.
Again, the notetaker will record the ideas generated. This can be done with several questions – as many as the product faces. Once all of the questions have been discussed, the notetakers present the ideas generated by each group.
You will find very different ideas, and from these, you then merge, classify and prioritize the new ones that have come forward.
A more classic session, and one we often use, begins with a short ice breaker, so everyone at the table is comfortable and has had a chance to interact with the others.
Hand each person a stack of sticky notes, and don’t be stingy with this! The point is to generate as many ideas as possible – even hundreds. Give people some time, and ask them to write as many ideas as they can come up with, writing one per sticky note.
Once all the notes are complete, you will stick them to the wall or board, and begin the process of categorizing them by business, client, IT challenge and so on. Leave people with extra paper, so they can share any further ideas during the process.
In the end, express and prioritize ideas, evaluate them for the time commitment and investment, and set the strategy moving forward.
There are many other resources available that you can use to drive ideas and set strategies for generating and gathering collective intelligence. Two of the best ones are Design Better Business and the Board of Innovation.
There are definitely other ways people have found success driving this kind of collaboration and team thinking. Tell us below about your favorite that has worked the best for you.
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