Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Collaborative Intelligence at Work

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Great new article on emotional intelligence on Newsweek called "Building a Better Team."

The topic at hand is called "collaborative intelligence," sort of the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

It's Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There, (see Einstein quote - "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it") talking about his e-mail correspondence with Stephen Joyce, author of best seller Teaching an Anthill to Fetch: Developing Collaborative Intelligence @ Work - (

Joyce refers to firemen fighting fires, platoons of soldiers in combat, sports teams ... sort of esprit de corps, teamwork, the effect when people are working effectively together, sharing information and all else needing sharing ... "united we stand, divided we fall."

Specifically he is talking about NOT getting bogged down in the nemesis of all -- "politics."

Especially interesting to me now as I am reading Peter the Great by Massie, who, when talking about the wars (specifically the war between Sweden and Russia), mentions how the Russians kept losing because initially their inexperienced soldiers acted like a mob (panicing and so forth) instead of with the rich discipline of the well-trained Swedes. And also, at the point I am now reading, that the Swedish demise was due to the failure of the commander to brief his sub-commanders before the battle -- because of jealousy and spite. The one commander couldn't stand the other, and just plain out didn't like to talk to him. So he didn't. And Massie faults King Charles XII for not knowing this about the two men's personalities.

Collaborative Intelligence -- Is this stuff new? Well, a better question to ask, given the business world's (and it's writer's) propensity for "reframing," especially with new acronymns, is does it work?

I think it is possible to raise the collective EQ by raising the EQs of its individual members, or possibly even A member. I have seen it happen. We are all too sadly aware that "one bad apple can spoil the bunch." After all, one of the comments I often get from those who take my DIFFICULT PEOPLE course is, "Now I see when I become the 'difficult person.'"

A few things from the article I especially liked:

Here are some of the most important characteristics of a team with high CQ:

• Is able to share the stress and strain evenly throughout the team.
• Achieves its objectives more through people and less through politics.
• Has a strong network of connection and support between its members. This accelerates learning, enabling the team's reactions to be rapid and responsive to challenges.
• Looks after its own: Individuals are not left to fend for themselves, and staff retention is high because people feel a strong sense of belonging

"Collaboration" sort of implies emotional intelligence. Without it, however, I would contend that the entity (business, group, committee, organization, squad, team) will tend not to operate like an anthill (which, after all gets the job done, by instinct) but rather, like a mob. Because ants have a rudimentary 'brain' and humans have 3 brains (and emotions), and are therefore capable of so much more, for good or for ill.

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