[UPDATED ARTICLE] Collective intelligence in companies takes many forms: creativity workshops, sharing of content, knowledge and know-how, etc. The intelligent company is one that frees up talent, skills and ideas, so that all employees can benefit.
What is collective intelligence in business?
To give a definition of collective intelligence, we have chosen the Oxford Review's proposal:
Collective intelligence is the combination of the abilities and skills of a group or team to collectively perform a variety of tasks or find solutions to different problems.
But beware of the pitfall: collective intelligence is not the sum of the individual intelligences of the members of a group. It is rather the result of the relationship between these intelligences. Put another way, collective intelligence is the capacity of a group, born of the interactions between its members.
In business, collective intelligence is essential because it makes the organisation stronger. Indeed, a group of non-experts will always be more intelligent than a single expert. Collective intelligence makes it possible to give everyone a place. Because everyone has skills, knowledge or areas of expertise that bring value to the group. In companies, collective intelligence therefore helps to respond to the quest for recognition of employees.
Finally, we should remember that it is the diversity of the members of a group that makes its collective intelligence strong. Indeed, it is in the confrontation of ideas that the richest and most successful projects are born.
How does information sharing contribute to the emergence of collective intelligence?
Sharing information is central to developing collective intelligence in business. Indeed, to make the group intelligent, it is necessary to create interactions between its members. These interactions can be discussions, exchanges, debates, or the sharing of information or skills. By enriching each individual, these interactions enrich the group.
Your company will therefore be smarter if knowledge and know-how are shared. Let's take an example. Unlike an apple, knowledge increases tenfold when it is shared. If I have an apple, and I give it to you, I have no more apple. On the other hand, if I have knowledge, and I share it with you, we both have that knowledge. Our individual intellects are increased at first. But then, thanks to this sharing of knowledge, our exchanges evolve, our interactions are enriched, and our collective intelligence develops.
Why implement collective intelligence in companies?
Accelerate the development of employee skills
You'll tell us: it's logical! Because when you develop collective intelligence in a company, skills are shared more quickly. Thus, employees do not only increase their skills through top-down training, but also because they share their knowledge and know-how with each other.
The underlying benefit of collective skills development is that you retain skills better within your organisation. Indeed, if knowledge and skills are passed on between employees, your company will be less affected by potential employee departures.
Making your organisation more efficient
Collective intelligence gives strength to your employees as a group. Indeed, knowledge sharing, exchanges and interactions between individuals can only be a source of progress and innovation for your company.
Moreover, the collective intelligence approach consists of giving autonomy to employees, making them both more agile and more responsible. This is generally a source of performance!
Among the benefits of collective intelligence in business, have you thought about the development of benevolence? Indeed, in a siloed organisation, sharing is noticed and judgements are easier. Conversely, the more your employees share their talents, skills and ideas, the more the culture of exchange will infuse, generating more benevolence.
Promoting employee well-being and commitment
The culture of collective intelligence is very beneficial for the well-being and commitment of employees. This is because it responds to the - frequent - quest for recognition at work. Indeed, if we start from the principle that each individual has a value to bring to the group, and that each voice counts, then on the one hand, employees will feel valued within the company, and on the other hand, they will feel more legitimate to speak out and to be involved.
How to implement collective intelligence in companies?
Obviously, there are as many ways to implement a collective intelligence approach as there are types of companies. However, you can rely on workshops and digital tools to put collective intelligence in motion in your company.
Collective intelligence workshops
Collective intelligence workshops are obviously highly recommended in companies. They can take many forms, and meet many different objectives. Design thinking, ideation workshops, creativity workshops, World Café... What counts is to create a meeting between people, intelligences, different profiles. Present them with a problem, an irritant, a theme to set in motion, and encourage them to express themselves.
Many companies offer facilitation training for their employees. This is an excellent idea to ensure that collective intelligence permeates the company's culture.
Facilitating a collective intelligence tool
Workshops are often key moments for collective intelligence in companies. Nevertheless, it is essential to create a space that anchors the collective intelligence approach between workshops. This space must be digital, so that it is accessible to all your employees, regardless of where they work.
Your digital collective intelligence tool should allow your employees to be able to :
- Giving feedback
- Launching debates
- Share their knowledge and skills, e.g. by running their own webinars, digital Brown Bag Lunches, etc.
- Formalise their skills to share them with their peers and even with as many employees as possible
- Suggestingideas and adding to those of others
Thus, collective intelligence will live on all year long in your company!