The emergence of CI, an online experiment

As I said, in a recent entry in the blog on communities of practice , I’ve been away for a while but not idle. In the last couple of months I made friends with an amazing array of very remarkable people. One of them is Peter Merry who has just finished writing his forthcoming book on Evolutionary Leadership. This entry is originated as one of my contributions to it.
The meaning and accelerating the emergence of CI
Having learned ways to quiet their mind and strengthen their health and vitality, aspiring evolutionary leaders are ready to dance with the energies of the “We,” their teams, communities, the network of all of their relationships. They are ready to ask and see into powerful questions.
It is springtime in Europe and the air is gently sprayed with a scent of nature and human spirit coming alive again, after a long winter. It is a good time to look at generative questions, the seeds of transformation. Here’s one that I believe worth of our attention:
How can a group of individual intelligences become truly collective intelligence? How can they escape into a more complex and capable collective intelligence, without sacrificing their autonomy?
The act of “seeing into” a powerful question is like holding a baby in your arm, in a mix of awe, wonder, and curiosity. Can you hold the following question, in that way?
“How to accelerate the emergence of a higher collective intelligence in communities?”
I offer the this meaning of CI, as a starting point: “Collective intelligence is a distributed capacity of communities to evolve towards higher order integration and performance through collaboration and innovation.”
This is an updated version of the definition introduced in the chapter on “Liberating the Innovation Value of Communities of Practice” of the forthcoming textbook on Knowledge Economics: Emerging Principles, Practices and Policies.
CI sits in the lower left of Wilber’s quadrants, the space of “we,” culture, and inter-subjectivity. Wilbers4quadrant.jpg Wilber has been giving many good maps of it, even an excellent, 1-sentence summary: “These shared values, perceptions, meanings, semantic habits, cultural practices, ethics, and so on, I simply refer to as culture, or the intersubjective patterns in consciousness.” A student of Wilber, Steve McIntosh, further specified the content of those inter-subjective cultural structures that we share with others in groups:
“While the content of subjective consciousness consists of feelings, thoughts, and decisions, the content of inter-subjective cultural structures consists of the substance of what is shared by subjective consciousness—the substance of information, meaning, and value.”
Source: Intersubjective holons: dynamic systems of communication. An examination of the nature and behavior of the structures of consciousness and culture, by Steve McIntosh (.pdf)
In communities and organizations, besides those shared qualities, we also share a capacity to evolve and co-evolve with one another and with the surrounding social, technical, and market ecosystems.
CI is continually emerging from the connected conversations among members across ecosystems.
It’s occurring all the time, in many invisible ways. Let’s make one visible, by a simple, small-scale experiment, an open source, collaborative learning process that could give its participants a taste of that emergence. I imagine four steps:
• Discovering the seed conditions for the emergence of CI
• Sensing what hinders the evolution of CI
• Comparing notes
• Seeking patterns that connect actionable meaning


Step 1. Discovering the seed conditions for the emergence of CI
We start by asking a driving question, the answer to which would mean a significant increase in our capability to grow a more robust CI. For example, what are the pivotal conditions to the emergence of CI in communities?
We don’t have to build a definitive list of those conditions; we can get to the essentials through a collaborative inquiry, a sort of focused, learning conversation. For a starter of that conversation, I suggest to consider the following factors. For CI to emerge, there must be:
• Shared learning agenda expressed by the choices of the specific challenges or opportunities that the community wants to address in near term and longer term.
• Trusted relationships among members, which liberate the flows of knowledge and value creation.
• Frequent opportunities to participate in productive conversations through multiple channels of communication.
What else? What other conditions are also essential to raise our collective IQ?
Do you remember an episode in the life of any of the communities, to which you belong or belonged, when you have clearly felt the presence of a collective intelligence? What made that moment possible? Think about it, feel into it, and jot down your response.
Step 2. Sensing what hinders the evolution of CI
Evolutionary leaders need to intimately understand not only what fosters CI but also the factors that limit its growth.
Collective Intelligence doesn’t just evolve; it is co-arising with the evolution of four domains: the community’s social architecture, knowledge and learning ecosystem, economic engine, and technologies for collaboration and coordination. Each of these four domains brings to CI its own set of enablers and obstacles. They deserve more room for exploration than this blog entry to a time-bound online experiment in CI.
In my observations, CI, the potential of communities to evolve towards higher order integration and capabilities through collaboration and innovation, is very limited if:
• Ego and turf-battles waste the members’ attention and energy.
• Conversations are not connected and facilitated for emergence.
• The community’s knowledge ecosystem is week or poorly integrated, thus the cross-fertilization of ideas, information, and inspirations is sporadic and slow.
• The power of new technologies is not leveraged for balancing the constraints imposed cultural, geographic, hierarchical and other barriers.
That last point is frequently the consequence of the fact the structure and culture of the organization that hosts the communities prevent it from benefiting from today’s advanced and truly user-centered tools to process, portray, and communicate large chunks of information, and make meaning out from their constant, kaleidoscopic swirling.
Can you think of other essential obstacles to accelerating the emergence of CI that you observed in organizations? If yes, please make note of them.
Step 3. Comparing notes
I made my thoughts visible here, in spite knowing that they are incomplete and many of them half-baked. That’s just to say, don’t hesitate to share yours as they come up rather than wait for the perfect time to write a polished piece, which may never come. There are four ways in which you can contribute, according to your appetite to learn from and with this collaborative learning process. You can:
• Post your insights and questions in the Comments field below this post.
• Ask for and receive authoring rights, which would give you more freedom in formatting and categorizing your entries, also more visibility and connectivity.
• Become a Contributing Editor and shaper of the blog’s format and direction in its way to become a community blog
Step 4. Seeking patterns that connect actionable meaning
In the last step, all participants are invited to publish in the blog their perception of interesting patterns emerging from this blog conversation, and co-develop a shared map of CI boosters and roadblocks.
If some of you would step forward and offer to develop summaries of our learning or write a learning history, then the first cycle of our learning together could come to a closure with making its fruits available to the larger constellation of communities and networks working with the distinctions of CI, collective wisdom, and collective consciousness, as well as to all evolutionary agents, facilitators and leaders.
Timing, Flow, and Invitation
Giving attention for two weeks to each of the 4 steps, we may have some interesting results in two months.
What do you think of all of the above?
What is your appetite to participate in and shape this project?
Given the scope and portent of this inquiry, hosting and facilitating it could easily become a full-time occupation that none of us can afford. However, that wouldn’t be necessary if everyone interested in both the results and the process of these explorations, would offer some help according to his/her talents in community facilitation, summarizing, information architecting, information visualization, blog plug-ins and customization, etc. Consider this an invitation, and drop me a line to discuss how you can help.
Looking forward to hear from you, with great curiosity and anticipation.
George

This entry was posted in Blogging for Emergence. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The emergence of CI, an online experiment

  1. My Dear Friend,
    Very interesting indeed, and yes, why not share our experience. At http://www.TheTransitioner.org we are trying to set up practical proposal for governance in the 21st centuary for organizations that are interested in it (see http://www.thetransitioner.org/wiki/tiki-index.php?page=CI+and+Governance)
    We have also started a short list about phenomena in a CI context: http://www.thetransitioner.org/wiki/tiki-index.php?page=Collective+Intelligence+Phenomena .
    As this is a wiki, why not share this work together?
    Love,
    Jean-François

    Like

  2. Paul Prueitt says:

    I am pleased to see the long pdf file
    http://207.44.196.94/~wilber/pdf/NoosEvolution.pdf
    by Steve McIntosh. I will read this and put my future comments into this context.
    My work is on a visual knowledge management system for blogs where the subject matter indicators are viewable as a graph construction.
    For the blog output to be aggregated one needs both tools and a special type of human awareness, one that is working as a Magister Ludi (or librarian) to create a high fidelity index into the concept space.
    This note is also posted within a “BCNGroup Glass Bead Game”
    http://www.bcngroup.org/python3/fiftyone.htm
    George (one of the participants at
    http://www.community-intelligence.com/blogs/public/archives/000251.html
    asked:
    “How can a group of individual intelligences become truly collective intelligence? How can they escape into a more complex and capable collective intelligence, without sacrificing their autonomy?”
    My reply is based on cognitive neuroscience (Pribram) and social biology (Maturana). We humans are already equipped to do this quite naturally. Yes? So the pragamatic question then becomes how can we fall into a social practice where our communications are not to an individual but to the collective group thought – in real time – now.
    My answer to this new question is the visualization of thematic structure of real time social discourse.
    http://www.bcngroup.org/area2/KnowledgeEcologies.htm
    for the purpose of being social and enjoying the world. I can bring this technology from the intelligence community to the social world.
    This is the notion of many-to-many communication. Yes?

    Like

  3. Paul Prueitt says:

    Jean-Francois,
    When someone arrives at your site the past history of URLs visisted is taken away, and the back button no longer works. You should fix this, as it removes information that the user sometimes wants to use.
    Moving around in the blog fields has to be easy, and taking this information away is one way to keep someone at “your” site”. But…
    I am interested in developing a dedicated discussion about a weather-map type visual display of the mental event structure being developed in many blogs.

    Like

  4. George Por says:

    As we start looking into the various factors that hinder the emergence of CI, the very complexity of content and processes generated by enterprise blogging (or community blogging) is definitely one of them. So I’m very intrigued by what Paul wrote:
    > My work is on a visual knowledge management system for blogs where the subject matter indicators are viewable as a graph construction.
    Paul, is there anything that you can show us that would illustrate what you’ve just described?
    > For the blog output to be aggregated one needs both tools and a special type of human awareness, one that is working as a Magister Ludi (or librarian) to create a high fidelity index into the concept space.
    True, but you remember, Magister Ludi was not the only master of the Glass Bead Game, there was a whole “commuity of practice”, whole generations of game masters who bult on and with one another’s art and intelligence of the game. Today, I’d call them knowledhe ecologist. For more on KE, you can look up the Source Document for Knowledge Ecology here: http://www.co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/kd/sourcedoc.shtml

    Like

  5. Collective Intelligence (2)

    George Por, in the Blog of Collective Intelligence, asks: How can a group of individual intelligences become truly collective intelligence? How can they escape into a more complex and capable collective intelligence, without sacrificing their autonomy…

    Like

  6. Jay Cross says:

    Hi, George. I’m up for experimenting with you. In fact, I’ve been noodling on collective intelligence myself, though calling it by other names. I am particularly interested in using collaboration to improve learning. While nearly everyone agrees that working with others is a vital component of learning, the standards community and learning theorists are still in the “painting on the walls of the cave” stage.
    The thoughts that came to mind reading your post are at http://www.internettime.com/blog/archives/001326.html#001326
    All the best.

    Like

  7. Knowledge Ecosystem Persistence

    “Collective intelligence is a distributed capacity of communities to evolve towards higher order integration and performance through collaboration and innovation.”

    Like

  8. Jon Husband says:

    Wow, George. You’ll have to get out to dinner with some bloggers more often !!
    Marvellous stuff. And, thanks for the note re: Spangler.

    Like

  9. George Por says:

    Jay, your comment called forth a new entry that I posted this afternoon.
    Jon,
    > You’ll have to get out to dinner with some bloggers more often !!
    yes, indeed!
    if all bloggers would get out to dinner with some bloggers more frequently, we could raise the frequencies of our global brainwaves, couldn’t we? 🙂
    [self reminder: i need a new emoticon for saying, it is only half-joke…]

    Like

  10. soulsoup says:

    Pre-Post on collective intelligence

    I am still in the reasearch phase about collective intelligence blogged by George Por and Jay Cross. I’ll reflect as soon as I finish. Till today I am quite mesmerized by those “daylighting” posts. Mean time – enjoy this daily…

    Like

  11. George,
    Thanks for your insights, vision and drive to help us discover new ways to interact. I have one questions, is there something between:
    – Individual Intelligence
    – ?????
    – Collective Intelligence
    Is it not possible to have a “collective intelligence” context where the “individual intelligence” comes alive? In other words, how it is possible to have a dynamic interaction so that as individuals value the intelligence (and emotions) of the other, the collective intelligence emerges?

    Like

  12. What’s between individual ad collective intelligence?

    Charles Savage asked, “how it is possible to have a dynamic interaction so that as individuals value the intelligence (and emotions) of the other, the collective intelligence emerges?”

    Like

  13. Dear George, the first comment I put above sounded like advertising to direct people to another working place. I apologize for this.
    I will try to be more precise here and use less shortcuts.
    I would like to check whether it’s possible to list in an exhaustive manner all the phenomena that happen within a group that practices collective intelligence. Listing all phenomena would probably help raise the awareness of what CI really is about and help us build the discipline that consists in improving it. As this is a collective work, blogs don’t seem very appropriate to build such a list. Wikis are, it can be done in the wikipedia way.
    A wiki page has been made for this purpose in the public site TheTransitioner.org at http://www.thetransitioner.org/wiki/tiki-index.php?page=Collective+Intelligence+Phenomena . Right now it’s just a raw shortlist. Couldn’t this work come as a complement to the invitation you just made here?
    On a more general way, I feel the need of a wiki. Blogs are perfect for conversations, wikis are perfect for integration.

    Like

  14. Hi Paul,
    I am not sure I understand what you mean about the history being taken away and the back button not working in my site? I have tried it on different browsers and it seems to work properly.
    Are you talking about http://www.TheTransitioner.org ? You are describing it as a blog, but it’s not, it’s a wiki. Please ontact me directly at http://www.TheTransitioner.org/contact to help me understand the details.
    Best regards,
    Jean-François

    Like

  15. George Por says:

    hi Jean-François,
    Thank you for adding depth to your comment, which also makes easier to understand your intent.
    > I would like to check whether it’s possible to list in an exhaustive manner all the phenomena that happen within a group that practices collective intelligence. Listing all phenomena would probably help raise the awareness of what CI really is about and help us build the discipline that consists in improving it.
    I’m becoming a bit skeptical of the possibility to list in exhaustive manner of anything worth to describe. But that’s not my main concern. It is the illusion it may strengthen about the power an intellectual activity like “listing phenomena” which is in the Reflection pole of Levy’s “6-pole” model of CI, without also attending the two other 5 poles. I’d even say that the existence of, or desire of becoming, a commuity of practice, inquiry or co-creation is an antecedent to CI to emerge,
    That’s why I emphasized in Step 1 of the entry that you commeted on:
    For CI to emerge, there must be:
    • Shared learning agenda expressed by the choices of the specific challenges or opportunities that the community wants to address in near term and longer term.
    • Trusted relationships among members, which liberate the flows of knowledge and value creation.
    • Frequent opportunities to participate in productive conversations through multiple channels of communication.
    In this entry, I even suiggested a simple 4-step process for an online experiment that may lead to a community of inquiry. So far, nobody reflected on that possiblity, which makes me wonder about the why; is it the lack of clarity in my entry or the usual consequece of our individualistic upbringing in a society designed for competition, that makes us shy away from community even if that was the place where our autonomy could truly thrive and grow. My guess is that it’s not OR but AND.

    Like

  16. The Emergence of CI

    George Por offers an online experiment to explore the factors contributing to the growth of collective intelligence

    Like

  17. m00ndirt says:

    In other words, is self-awareness a requirement for being a CI?
    Thanks,
    m00ndirt

    Like

  18. Is self-awareness a requirement for CI?

    Somebody asked, is self-awareness a requirement for being a CI?

    Like

  19. Mike Bell says:

    Hi George
    I took up your ‘challenge’ when you said “So far, nobody reflected on that possiblity, which makes me wonder about the why” and went back an looked at your Step 1.
    I used the filter of the three conditions you outline to reflect on three relationships I am in/have been in recently and this is what I saw.
    The most successful and satisfying relationship is in the ki work project (www.ki-work.com). There is a high level of willingness and need to learn as we don’t know how to do it. Trust is high, I think coming from an openness to explore together and a readiness to acknowledge and accept each others talents, and we have multiple channels for regular communication.
    The least satisfying, which I did not proceed with was characterised by a ‘sub-contractor’ mentality and taking rather than giving. The other party was not aware of this in his behaviour, from my perspective. As a result their was little trust on my part and more regular communication would have made little difference.
    The third relationship is somewhere in between and presents regular challenges for me as a result.
    Hope this adds to the unfolding conversation.
    Regards
    Mike

    Like

  20. George Por says:

    Mike, thank you for your contribution to this inquiry.
    It made me curious, if you were in charge of drafting indicators for a significant boost in the CI of your collaborative project, what would you include?

    Like

  21. Intersubjectivity in an organic pub

    Every event has at least as many different stories as participants. That’s because our narratives come through the unique mix of sensibilities, attitudes, interests, etc. that we bring to the event. If so, let collective intelligence benefit from that …

    Like

  22. Malcolm Best says:

    I have found much of interest on Tom Atlee’s site:
    http://www.co-intelligence.org/tomatleebio.html
    Also the Open Space site:
    http://www.openspaceworld.com/brief_history.htm
    And as I searched around right now, a list of resources:
    http://www.wie.org/collective/resources.asp

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s