In business, we look for analytical intelligence, the kind we apply to strategy and problem solving. We look for emotional intelligence for empathy, collaboration and leadership. We look for social intelligence: how we regard others and how aware we are of our impact on others.
During disruption – the new normal -- there is another, vital form of intelligence. Intelligence that meets complexity with complexity: collective intelligence.
What is collective intelligence?
Mastering situational complexity by leading social complexity. Our social, political, ideological, financial, and environmental ecosystems deconstruct, collide, merge, and create other new patterns of disruption. The individual expert/visionary able to parse the diverse nuances and distinctions necessary to map and navigate this roiling complexity is exceedingly rare. So, how do we meet this complexity with a better complexity? Collective intelligence: the smartest one in the room is the room.
Yet, that’s not what most leaders have been taught. They’ve been taught to find, retain, or be -- the smartest one in the room.
But problems now are so diverse, nuanced, complex, and ambiguous that each person brings a vital – though incomplete -- puzzle piece to the room. Leaders have to create and maintain a space where everyone listens to diverse views with inclusion and equity so they weight all voices without bias and really consider the experience and perspective of others. Then, together, people identify and create different configurations -- like twisting a kaleidoscope thereby reconfiguring elements and their relationships.
Finally, through a listening discussion, a high-potential view emerges and actions become clearer. To do this, we have to master three elements: the field, the frame and the focus of our inquiry, problem formation and resolution.
While this may sound structured, it requires intellectual, emotional, and social agility.
Complexity and disruption are the ongoing new normal. How equipped are you to lead collective intelligence?