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How to Improve a Group’s Intelligence

April 5, 2013

A recent blog post by Annie Murphy Paul, describes seven ways to improve a team’s “intelligence.” While it may seem odd to think in terms of the intelligence of a group of individuals, it turns out that it is possible to measure what is called the “Collective Intelligence Factor” of a group.

The seven suggestions are based on research done by scientists at MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Union College, and National Institutes of Health. One of the most exciting things about these research findings is that teams can actually be taught to improve their effectiveness and “intelligence.”

Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Select team members who are socially sensitive (they are good at reading non-verbal cues)
  • Try to ensure that each team member takes turns in the conversation. Members who over or under-participate will hold the group back.
  • Literally discuss your group and its working dynamic. Don’t just work on the product, but also work on the process.
  • Promote disagreement while keeping down the level of conflict.
  • Hold regular meetings. The most successful collaborations involve having regular face-to-face meetings or web conferences.
  • Allow for less formal team get-togethers in between meetings. Having the opportunity to get to know each other outside of formal meeting situations allows team members to learn about each other and will ultimately improve the effectiveness of the team.

More information about the research behind these suggestions can be found here:

The New Science of Building Great Teams

Collaboration and team science: from theory to practice.

Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups

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