In the last couple of months I’ve been swamped by work aimed at raising the collective intelligence of three global professional networks. It kept me busy and away from blog-writing but it also provided snippets of new experience that will certainly flow into the blog. I’m not yet emerging from that work but have just come across, in the CI folder of my hard disk, the “What Is My Collective IQ? CI Starts Within!” paper that I presented first at International Colloquium at the University of Ottawa, June 24, 2003. Whilst you’re waiting for some fresh materials, I thought that some of my newer thoughts triggered by that paper could lead to an interesting, collaborative inquiry. Let me know whether you agree.
What if we coupled the “CI-as-out-there” perspective of investigation with the “CI-as-in-here” perspective? How would it be if we took not an external/objective but an internal/subjective look at CI? To what new approaches could these questions open access? Is participatory observation in oneself as a “collective intelligence” unit possible? Let’s give it a try and see.
We can start with observing the mutually embedded relationship of two holons:
A. The collective intelligence of the Whole is in each of us, is part of us. This is a minor holon compared with B.
B. Our individual intelligences escape into the higher-order complexity of collective intelligence, through a meta-system transition, and get continually transcended and included.
With the advent of the Web, we as individuals started experiencing the many intellectual and practical advantages of using the global brain as an extension of our own — accessing knowledge anywhere in the world, which is as close as files on our own hard disk. This is an expression of holon A.
CI is embedded in us, in two ways:
1. We are products of the co-evolving intelligence of Life itself. Not to mention our ancestors in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms, we are products of many millennia of social evolution. We couldn’t have language, tools, not even our most intimate thoughts and feelings, without the long journey of CI marking stages in humankind’s history.
2. We are connected through our various networks, the nerve endings of which are inside our own existence. The nervous system of a group, enterprise, or other social holons, is the network of conversations that constitutes it. Participating in meaningful conversations, we may pursue our various individual agendas, and as a by-product, we help the imaginal cells of our CI connect into larger patterns of meaning.
When we become conscious of the impersonal, beyond-our-small-self nature of the experience of having the larger CI as close as our keyboard, mobile phones, or transpersonal contemplations, then something surprising and truly charming happens: Realizing that we are made of CI and it is made of us, we start feeling hungry for the connections with others, from which this mutual embeddedness is continually co-arising. As if grateful children wanted to give back something to their parents.
What does it mean to be collective intelligence, both as holon A. and B? That question translates into:
1. How does CI manifest in myself? What is my C-IQ and what will it take to boost it?
2. How does CI manifest in my community or organization ? What is our Collective IQ and what will it take to boost it?
Both questions call for a model of CI, capable to help us discerning, assessing, and enhancing the factors that together generate it, and the interaction of those factors. For that purpose, the best model of CI that I found so far is the one developed by Professor Pierre Lévy, Canada Research Chair of Collective Intelligence at the University of Ottawa.
The bi-directional arrows represent two-way value flows across the following 6 poles, the interaction of which is necessary to the emergence of CI: Reflection, Intention, Competence, Recorded memory, Trusted relationships, and Enabling technologies.
Note on the next slide the labels that are different from the ones above, which contribute additional meaning to the model. For example, look at the loop around each of the 6 poles:
Knowing that the intelligence potential of biological species is increasing with the increase of connections among the cells in their nervous system, we can extrapolate that increasing value-creating connections among the poles of a social organism (both holon A and B type), will boost its Collective IQ.
If CI starts within, then my next questions are:
1. How to increase connectivity within each of my 6 CI poles?
2. How to increase connectivity across those poles?
Below, I will introduce some examples of the impact of increasing connectivity within each of the model’s 6 factors.
If my intentions are a rowdy bunch of competing desires and ambitions, then my C-IQ, the intelligence of the Whole in me, will be most likely lower than if those intentions are aligned and connected with something larger than me. My C-IQ would get the biggest boost from my intentions if I could align them with the direction of Evolution in me towards increasing consciousness, compassion, and capacity to absorb more complexity. I know that it is easier said than done, but what else is interesting than committing to practices aiming at such alignment?
Our mind is frequently jumping from one thought to the next, creating disjoint series of only loosely connected reflections. Sometimes it feels as if the mind was using us, not we use our mind. We can increase the connectivity of our reflections by contemplation, meditation, creative visualization, and other practices. Each of them will contribute to boosting our C-IQ.
Humans may not swim as swiftly as dolphins or run as fast as gazelles but have a repertory of competences far richer than other species. A better understanding of the interrelatedness of our intellectual faculties, such as memory, sensing, discerning, intuiting, etc. will let one invest in that area of his/her capabilities which has a stronger pull on the other areas, in any specific sirtuation.
The recorded memory of my mental models allows for their critical examination and the improvement of their clarity and coherence, which in turn is a booster of my C-IQ.
The wider and more diverse is my network of trusted relationships, the more connected I am with a larger variety of life experiences and perspectives on reality. That is, clearly, a significant booster of the CI within.
Finally, enabling technologies, such as massive and miniaturized memory storage, high-speed connection to the global brain, more processing power available to individuals than ever before, can be connected in configurations optimized for augmenting CI that operates inside us.
Now, let’s step up the level of examining the possibility of boosting the C-IQ of a person, and move from increasing the connection within the 6 poles to increasing it across them. For example, what if we could liberate the full potential of value flowing from our reflections to our enabling technologies and vice versa? What if the circular flow of information between our intentions, recorded memories, and trusted relationships could be accelerated so that we would be able to mobilize more individual representations of the collective mind faster for meeting the needs of a project at hand?
With the help of smart visualization tools and practice, we can become ever more skillful in mapping the components of our C-IQ and taking snapshots whenever we want to assess our progress in boosting it.
The stream of ideas presented here has been focused on the first of these two questions.
1. How does CI manifest in myself? What is my C-IQ and what will it take to boost it?
2. How does CI manifest in my community or organization? What is our Collective IQ and what will it take to boost it?
The second question is a concern of many leadership teams, HR/OD managers, and facilitators of transformation in communities and organizations that require an expansion of their CI. I will address that in my forthcoming executive seminar at the London School of Economics. But you don’t have to wait till then. If you are one of them, maybe these ideas will help:
Start with optimizing the working conditions in your organization for boosting CI-within, using the 6-pole model as a framework. There are many methods and tools to do so. Some of them are blogged about here, others are still in my mind, unwritten.
Develop and facilitate a collaborative action research or “learning expedition”
for assessing the C-IQ of your team or organization, using the 6-pole model.
Form a learning team with your colleagues interested to pioneer the boosting of collective intelligence within and without. Then you will have a chance to keep up with the growing number of books, articles, websites, through which our WE-intelligence is groping towards becoming conscious of itself.