Collective Intelligence

What is Collective Intelligence?

The idea that a community or group of individuals is more efficiently capable of higher thought processes than an individual. Social-media applications of this concept include online communities which provide user-created informative content, such as Wikipedia.

Collective intelligence refers to the capability of a group to collaborate in order to achieve goals that an individual, even the most gifted, would not be able to accomplish alone. It is shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making.

Have you ever thought about the ways that two heads, put together, seem to come up with ideas that one person could not have come up with on her own?

Part of the answer to each of these questions has to do with collective intelligence, a kind of wisdom and knowledge that grows out of a group. The concept is when people work together, they form a type of intelligence that simply cannot exist on the individual level.

Collective intelligence has to do with making decisions together, forming a consensus, crowdsourcing different ideas and questions, and motivating people via healthy levels of competition. Why does it work, and how can it impact your life and productivity?

Making Your Team Smarter

It will make your learning team smarter. What does this really mean in practice? Well, theorists of collective intelligence believe that when different minds come together, a new level of understanding emerges. While many of us are accustomed to thinking of knowledge and power as phenomena that operate on the individual level, collective intelligence shows us what happens when we consider knowledge a collective, or group, property.


If you and a team of others at work are trying to come up with a presentation that will really knock the socks off of your new client, then each person on the team will bring something known as general individual intelligence, or one person’s knowledge base and skill set, to the group.

Together, all your intelligence will create something called a general collective intelligence factor, which will enable you to create the presentation at a much higher level. Your group together has its own IQ, in other words, and it’s smarter than anyone member on his own!

Improving Your Organization

How can we use collective intelligence to improve the creativity and productivity of an organization, in that case? Well, there are many ways to answer this question.

Sometimes, collective intelligence emerges when we introduce a level of competition within an organization. Asking people to compare their productivity to each other can give rise to a collective intelligence that will rapidly increase the overall productivity of the organization.

As explained before, a team or partnership is often smarter overall than an individual. Encouraging and even mandating teamwork will help an organization think more creatively, work more efficiently, and come up with better ideas overall.


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