“If the pandemic had happened five years ago, it would have been a completely different ballgame, both economically and socially, because the technology we rely on to communicate with each other wasn’t ready.” — Kathleen Kennedy, Executive Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
How can organizations learn to harness the power of collective intelligence and continue to evolve? Kathleen Kennedy, Executive Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence Design Lab, shared her thoughts with Globalization Partners’ CEO, Nicole Sahin.
“Collective intelligence is like individual intelligence. It can be measured similarly to how individual IQ is measured. What we are finding is that groups of people, augmented by technology, have increased group intelligence and can achieve things we haven’t seen before,” said Kennedy. Early findings in collective intelligence indicate that groups with higher percentages of women have even greater collective intelligence — the effect of increased social perceptions and the ability to read emotional cues.
Kennedy further explained that group intelligence declined in groups made up of 100 percent women or any collective that lacked diversity. Explaining the echo chamber effect of collective intelligence, Kennedy said that it requires a diverse input of voices, native perceptions, and abilities to be truly effective. Another interesting finding is that “the social cues we have all learned as human beings interacting together in person completely translate into a purely digital environment.” Kennedy continued by sharing the following anecdote: “I was running a team remotely four years prior to the pandemic, and when it hit, I told everyone: Welcome to Zoom, it’s a great way to work.”
Despite this, Kennedy believes our ability to act with emotional intelligence and read social cues in an all-digital environment would not have been possible even a few years ago. “If the pandemic had happened five years ago, it would have been a completely different ballgame, both economically and socially, because the technology we rely on to communicate with each other wasn’t ready.”
As an example, Kennedy offered, “One of the things I do with my team every week is to open meetings with a question and have everyone share their answers. Questions like: What is your favorite hat? or what is your best wedding story? Allow people to relate to each other and have something in common.”
“I was running a team remotely four years prior to the pandemic, and when it hit, I told everyone: Welcome to Zoom, it’s a great way to work.” — Kathleen Kennedy, Executive Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
“We can’t operate digitally the way that we operate in person. We can’t just flip work to all digital. We have to rethink the work.” Kennedy and her team, with Community BioTech Labs at MIT and MilliporeSigma, found that community and communications across local teams was a key factor in their effectiveness in post-pandemic work environments. Kennedy’s team hopes their work will lead to new ways to connect scientific labs around the world, in an effort to get individuals and organizations to work together by redefining the concept of hierarchical organizations into a more nimble and collaborative model.
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