There is little debate among academics or practitioners (business people, teachers, etc.) that there is a strong correlation between what is typically called “general intelligence” and an individual’s performance across many cognitive tasks. At the group level, the existence of a “collective intelligence” (or “team intelligence”) and its relationship to team performance is far less clear. A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Union College conducted two studies with 699 people to shed light on the question of whether collective intelligence in the team sense exists. If yes, then does it manifest itself in the same way for groups as general intelligence does for individuals? Or, is team performance correlated to different factors?
The study results demonstrated significant evidence of a collective intelligence factor within teams. This factor is a function of both the makeup of the team and the manner in which the members interact. Most interestingly, the team intelligence factor identified by the researchers was not significantly related to individual general intelligence. It was correlated with social sensitivity and team norms, especially conversational equality.
The research of Woolley et al., is supported by Google’s three-year review of team performance, Project Aristotle. Google’s research revealed that healthy team norms, especially psychological safety and conversational equality, along with consistently addressing gaps across important relationships, sits at the heart of their most effective teams.
Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. Science, 330(6004), 686-688. doi: 10.1126/science.1193147
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