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Collaborative intelligence

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Collaborative Intelligence (CI) or collaborative intelligence quotient is a measure of the collaborative ability of a group or entity and speaks of the problem solving cabability of a group being much greater than the knowledge possessed by an individual group member. The ability for a group to solve a problem collectively is directly proportional to the number of members in a group. Knowledge derived from collaborative efforts is increasing proportionally to the reach of the world wide web, collaborative groupware like net meeting, and webex, and collaborative peer-to-peer projects like Wikipedia.

As groups work together they develop a shared memory. The memory is accessible through the collaborative artifacts created by the group: meeting minutes, transcripts from threaded discussions, drawings etc,. The shared memory (group memory) is also accessible through the memories of group members.

Distributed Collaborative Intelligence (DCI) is the act of a group collaborating within a virtual sphere of interaction. Group members can interact in real time or asynchronously even though they are not located within the same physical space.

Technologies used to enhance DCI and to facilitate group problem solving are:

  1. Synchronous messaging technologies like Instant messengers, Chat rooms and shared white boards.
  2. Asynchronous messaging like electronic mail, threaded, moderated discussion forums and web logs.

Critical success factors for a high collaborative intelligence quotient are:

  1. Group moderation and facilitation
  2. Adherence to a small set of fundamental rules that relate to member interaction
  3. No limits to thinking; or the promotion of creative thinking
  4. Strong group membership feedback
  5. Quality control. Ideas need to be nurtured, but the solutions should be upheld after a critical peer review.
  6. The construction of a deeply documented group memory or knowledge base

Collaborative intelligence can also be described as the ability to create, contribute to and harness the power within networks of people and relationships. Fire fighters, Emergency Room units, and sports teams mention ‘CQ experiences’ a lot. They speak about the entire team acting as one, almost as if they had tapped into a ‘group mind’, or a ‘collaborative force field’. This typically enables participants to coordinate their actions closely with everyone else. The book 'Teaching an Anthill to Fetch' is also about alignment, treating people fairly and employee motivation, which all effect business success.

People also refer to the experience accessing intelligence beyond their own. As if they are augmented by something outside of themselves. These extreme experiences of collaboration are examples of high collaborative intelligence. While these circumstances may be exceptional, collaborative intelligence is not limited to these extraordinary circumstances, in other words collaborative intelligence can be developed within any group of people.

Several million ants sharing a colony do a better job collaboratively, than we do in most of our organizations. Unprecedented levels of connection via the internet and intranets have, as yet to be transformed into unprecedented levels of collaboration. Although technology is an incredibly useful tool, collaborative intelligence is fundamental quantified by what human can and will do together, rather than what a piece of software will allow them to do (because there is no guarantee they will).

  • CQ is a systemic intelligence that emerges as we come to realize individually that ‘we are all in this together’
  • CQ is a set of capabilities, everyone has them; in most part they are simply not expressed or accessed as much as they can be
  • CQ can be expanded and strengthened through specific processes
  • Treating people fairly and employee motivation is integrally linked to collaborative intelligence

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