Another definition of CI. What difference it makes?

I’m invited to design and deliver an executive seminar at the Lucina center ofthe Catholic University of Leuven on boosting CI in organizations. I use new speaking engagements for reviewing some of the distinctions I use, and seeing how they may or may not make sense in the new situation
Doing so, I’ve just updated for organizational leaders my CI definition as follows. You may want to compare it with the more complete one in the upper left corner, and tell us what do you think of the difference.
We call “collective intelligence” the fit-ness of human groups, small and large, to:
1. Enable their members to reach a fuller potential
2. Co-evolve with their environment toward more complex integrations through mutually supportive relationships and permanent innovation

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10 Responses to Another definition of CI. What difference it makes?

  1. Jay Cross says:

    George, you’ve added to the definition but I don’t know that you’ve improved it. I’ve been sucked into systems thinking lately. Optimizing member potential is tricky. How does the collective arrive at the best mix for the individual members? In fact, how does the group know when it’s making progress? The spirit is right, but something’s missing.

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  2. George says:

    Jay, thanks so much for your fast and insightful reply. That’s the kind of comments that I was hopimg for when I posted my entry… a li’l CI in action … 🙂
    There’s nothing definitve about a good definition, except that it sheds light on and gives access to new ways to think and act. Your comments help me clarifying how how the proposed CI definition may do that.
    > Optimizing member potential is tricky. How does the collective arrive at the best mix for the individual members?
    Well, we can’t be very prescriptive about it but what if we assessed and appreciated the group/community/organizational conditions in which we felt at our best, realizing our higher-than-average self and performance? Understanding those conditions is the first step to fan and generalize them.
    > In fact, how does the group know when it’s making progress?
    Would such empirical evidences of a higher CI would work for you as a consistent pattern of:
    – member-generated innovation in processes, products, and relationships?
    – effective feedback loops set for tracking all vital exchanges with the organization’s surrounding social (and market) ecosystem?

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  3. Ed Daniel says:

    Reading the definition made me think of the following:
    * Ability, willingness and ease in which CI is allowed to self-organise
    * Presence of strong leadership, without which collaboration will not deliver permanent innovation
    Happy Easter 🙂

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  4. Viki S says:

    Do you mean by “permanent innovation” “continuous innovation” (term used by economists)? Permanent innovation sounds confusing. I have to say that I am not taken by the term “fit-ness” either.
    One other thing — a personal belief is that for collective intelligence to occur you have to awareness amongst the group’s participants, that is, there participation needs to be conscious, more generally, the reciprocity that occurs between the group and the individual finds expression in each. The individual’s contribution seems muted in the definition you offer.
    Hope this helps instead of being a nuisance.

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  5. George says:

    hi Viki, thanx 4 your comments!
    > Do you mean by “permanent innovation” “continuous innovation” (term used by economists)?
    Yes.
    > I am not taken by the term “fit-ness”
    Well, we could use “capacity” as in the previous version; I just thought that “fit-ness” brings it closer to home, kind of less abstract.
    > The individual’s contribution seems muted in the definition you offer.
    You seem right on this. I’ll look for a solution to it while wanting to keep the definition short. Do you happen to have one?

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  6. Viki S says:

    Being conditioned by the discourses I participate in I favor “capability” and “ability” over “capacity” over “fit”. Fit usually signifies in the economic literature correspondence of system elements with overall state of system (not necessarily speaking to co-evolution but stasis). But if you want to be concrete why not “the POWER of human groups … to …”?
    And many gratitudes for the blessings of your work.
    Viki

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  7. Larry Victor says:

    George, sorry to burst in here with catalysts when you seek useful feedback; and due to the currency of your need, I am posting this without giving it the second reflection it requires.
    This may not be the place to bring up the issue, but what best suits a collectivity may not be what best suits its members, each, personally. However we might operationally define the optimum performance of a collectivity, it may prescribe a specialization of members coupled with appropriate means for their interactivity within the collective. This specialization may not be what a member might chose as best for themselves, as a member of a different collective that may better favor his/er personal visions. Values shift as one moves up the holarchy.
    The future potentials of both members and a collective are diverse. CI should include competency to not only Support, Enable, Augment, and Facilitate (SEAF) achieving their respective potentials, but also to DDD (Dialog, Deliberate, Decide) on which future path to chose.
    Second order planning intends to maximize the field of options at any moment, with CI contributing to this competency. Yet, long lead times often force an early commitment to a smaller set of options, leading to difficult decisions.
    Another issue: is CI an existing functional capacity of a collectivity, or a potential or propensity for the emergence of such competencies?
    In analogy with “IQ”, persons with high IQ scores may not exhibit their potential capacity.
    I often view definitions as motivators to probe deeper into the complexities of a conceptual scheme which has been given a label (e.g., CI), but is of a nature that no brief statement will suffice to “define” it. Should a definition bring closure or open discourse? What is the CI stance on “definitions”?

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  8. George says:

    Larry,
    > The future potentials of both members and a collective are diverse. CI should include competency to not only Support, Enable, Augment, and Facilitate (SEAF) achieving their respective potentials, but also to DDD (Dialog, Deliberate, Decide) on which future path to chose.
    I like your SEAF and DDD.
    > Another issue: is CI an existing functional capacity of a collectivity, or a potential or propensity for the emergence of such competencies?
    Both.
    > I often view definitions as motivators to probe deeper into the complexities of a conceptual scheme which has been given a label (e.g., CI), but is of a nature that no brief statement will suffice to “define” it. Should a definition bring closure or open discourse?
    The latter. That’s why I invited reflections.
    > What is the CI stance on “definitions”?
    As you guess, there’s no “official” CI stance on anything because the field has many widely divergent schools. As for as my own take on it, I prefer definitions that are distinctions. What distinguishes a distinction is that it gives access to a new way to see and act that wouldn’t be possible without it.

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  9. PAD Bennett says:

    George>
    I kinda agree that some of the words
    For me “fitness” would be more natural than “fit-ness” and likewise “grow” or simply “evolve” would flow better than “co-evolve”.
    It is just a hyphen thing.
    Over and above wordplay … the refining of CI in your definition prompted a few thoughts (which of course is its intention)>
    1. Is CI restricted to human members only? The inclusion of other animals and perhaps even plants may shed new thought forms.
    2 The CI stuff seems to focus on complexity and integration a lot … given a math background I find simplicity and differentiation also have merit which can be achieved in collectivity.
    3 How would the “Creation” sound as a subsitute for “permanent innovation”?
    Curiously when I read your definition it rang a bell with a definition of my business name “familus” … I had to define it last year for a legal document and this was the result>
    “familus” ? means a well connected group that enables the integration and differentiation of each of its members in ways that help the whole group and its individual members to be their best and evolve in trust.
    There are some distinct similarities. One of the familus dynamics is of course intelligence (collective and individual) yet there are many others.
    Regards PAD

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  10. sheri madrone says:

    hello, thanks for the inspiring thread and great thoughts. ci in action indeed. and we’re only just learning how to do this together – and that is part of what i think a definition should include, perhaps point 3 – it’s a learning process that we do together and is constantly evolving. from i-centric to we-centric.
    and this is a ramble off the top of my head sharing – don’t hold me to anything cause I’m not too attached.
    a caveat – a definition of ci that might work for lucina might not work for greenpeace international, so being mindful of the contexts is helpful because the definition is a limitation in itself and perhaps should include something that shows it is clearly an open discourse (as was mentioned).
    i’m going to respond to a number of points and will try to flow with the way the thread unfolded.
    i too don’t think the dashes add anything (important criteria for definitions) and i agree with viki that there are other words that work better than fit-ness or fitness – makes me think of working out. ability and capacity and effectiveness.
    another piece that i felt was missing is the ability to expand and connect with other groups and networks; so perhaps an additional point 4 – that brings in this value of connecting with other groups. because they/we are a part of a holarchy and that means they/we are in relationship to others. i think that in the movements and efforts toward social change we often see what some have referred to as “ego-centric” organizations (vs. network-centric orgs) and this focus on “our group” hurts us all in the end. what the world is calling for is greater connection between us all.
    “the individual is becoming increasingly important as an instigator of communication between self and group and one group with another; to facilitate a society which Castells describes as ‘…we are not living in a global village, but in customized cottages globally produced and locally distributed'[Castells 2000;368]” quoted from social network analysis on brainstorms caucus.
    so if the CI in one human group (or cottage) is raised, what is that if it is not in relationship to others.
    i wasn’t sure about if the group was doing the enabling or if it was the members together doing the enabling. the distinction seems a slippery one to me and somehow it rubbed me the wrong way. here i’m just being picky 🙂
    and the word member made me think of something i join rather than something i’m creating or co-creating with others. i’d like to see more the energy of participant. but this again is just semantics.
    In one of the comments, george, you write: “understanding those conditions is the first step to fan and generalize them” within the context of how do we assess or know if we’re optimizing member potential. i think that part of a definition or understanding of CI is not just the assessing and appreciation of the conditions in which we felt at our best (critical indeed), but also increasing the awareness of these conditions. because if we understand emergence and we can see ourselves in the field of possibilities, then perhaps we are standing in the field of infinite possibilities all the time and how we create the conditions for awareness and appreciation are so key. i am most interested in this point about understanding the conditions from which increased CI occurs.
    understanding those conditions – and i would add appreciating the differences between the various conditions and that is where the art of practicing CI comes in. we all have a piece and we’re bringing them together to not just enhance our own individual fuller potential, but also the whole is being enhanced to something utterly different – like moving from solid to liquid to gas (ah yes)…i see often in groups i am in how easy it is to slip into what we are most comfortable with and how we then focus on one set of conditions, which might be great, but are one lens and it is the multiple lenses and multiple conditions that we are in need of.
    the word permanent in the phrase permanent innovation makes me think of a state and a teleological point of view rather than something that is generative. the word permanent as in fixed in stone, unmoving doesn’t work for me. i love the word innovation and use it all the time. what about persistent innovation or thriving innovation or ???
    and can you tell me what you mean by “toward more complex integrations” in different words?
    i think we co-evolve with multiple environments, even if it is one group and the multiplicity and the recognition of such is part of ci.
    and PAD wrote about CI being open to new thought forms and i think it’s so good for us to remember all of the intelligences that are in play. we did an exercise in our cooperation course to uncover/discover the variety of intelligences that are at play and this relationship to the new thought forms is key. how else can we stand outside our assumptions to see things with new eyes or new mind? in a recent new scientist article, they talked about our 22 senses :))
    with regard to 1., i also think that CI enables not just the members to reach a fuller potential, but the group itself. this is implied, but it isn’t clear in this statement; to me it sounds like with the word enable that it is the group that is doing it and i think it is a combination. the ci of the group is enhanced as the members fullest potential is accessed and visa versa. this mutually satisfying relationship is so interesting.
    thanks for the stimulation of several of my senses.
    sheri

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