Enhancing collective intelligence to make a success of your projects


How to facilitate collective intelligence?


“Collective intelligence is the art of maximizing simultaneously creative freedom and collaborative efficiency. ” This short quote from Pierre Lévy sums up the notion of collective intelligence, which is proving its worth in business. Why use this method in a professional setting? How should you go about it? We take a look at this popular management style.

Why create collective intelligence?

Collective intelligence in business can be summed up as the capacity to create synergies – through a group of interacting colleagues – with the aim of solving a problem or reaching a common goal, such as successful completion of a project. In other words, it is a work method that connects teams and encourages them to pool their ideas to meet a common goal.

Collective intelligence benefits a company by encouraging mutual support, team cohesion and communication through its collaborative approach.

In the same way, assignment goals and purposes become much clearer and more tangible for all team members, which helps boost motivation among employees. Co-creation is also a key factor in collective intelligence, revealing often unexpected areas for improvement that benefit employees and the company.

How can you stimulate collective intelligence?

To boost collective intelligence, you need to begin by stimulating a group, encouraging dialogue, getting colleagues to work together. This means creating a favourable work environment and setting, and nominating a “leader”. Collective intelligence is not simply the sum of several individual intelligences, but instead the fruit of an advanced, well-thought-out process leading to genuine solutions and decision-making. Therefore, effective collective intelligence calls for “a facilitator”, a coach who specialises in group dynamics.

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What is a facilitator?

A business facilitator is an expert in employee interaction. Their key strengths lie in communication and teaching skills, an ability to listen and observe, and expertise in collaborative techniques.

The primary aim of a facilitator is to help colleagues to work together, making them agents of their own projects, by finding solutions for themselves. To achieve this, they devote time to preparing dialogue: they set the goals, decide the number of participants, determine the scenario and tools, and create a favourable space and ideal atmosphere in which ideas can emerge.

Next, during discussions, the facilitator works to boost collective intelligence. The coach is there to manage dialogue, listen, ask open questions, rephrase if necessary, and adjust the pace of the dialogue, all the while taking care to ensure that employees find the solutions themselves. They may also propose collaborative activities, even for those working remotely, such as projects in sub-groups or brainstorming sessions using tools like Drive or Miro, for example. The autonomy given to employees is vital because it renders the actions and solutions that emerge much more tangible, resulting in more successful projects.

The facilitator may vary their teaching methods to make for more lively dialogue and communications. One of the most popular activities is the “hackathon” – deploying collective intelligence in a timeframe (48 hours, for example) to meet a specific challenge and goal. “Mind mapping” – representing dialogue graphically – can also be used to boost collective intelligence, as can the “world cafe” – a round-table concept that stimulates brainstorming.