In the December 19th Boston Sunday Globe Carolyn Johnson profiles some recent work in the realm of collective intelligence.  As practitioners in the field of collaborative design this supports some of our fundamental beliefs about the creation, or co-creation, of work by leveraging the group’s collective intelligence more than any one  individual’s intelligence. 

A few nuggets:

The sum is greater than any one individual’s intelligence – no star power effect

They found “evidence that something called ‘collective intelligence’ did in fact exist. What was more surprising, however, was that neither the average intelligence of the group members nor the person with the greatest intelligence strongly predicted how well the group did.”

Strong and vocal leadership can negatively impact group results

“They also found that groups with overbearing leaders who were reluctant to cede the floor and let the others talk did worse than those in which participation was better distributed and people took turns speaking.”

Group intelligence can be managed for best results

“Instead of pronouncing a person’s intellectual engine good or bad, the research suggests that group intelligence is highly malleable and that concrete steps — such as mixing newcomers into an established team or not allowing a single leader to dominate — could fundamentally alter the group’s intelligence.”