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Collective intelligence

Collective intelligence

Nurturing through various formats

In the first place, the rapidly evolving landscape of problem-solving, collective intelligence stands as a powerful approach, cultivating creativity through the fusion of diverse perspectives and the exchange of expertise and knowledge. Plus, this approach not only fosters innovation but also encourages collaborative, multifaceted strategies to address complex challenges.
Then, the quest for collective intelligence is realized through a multitude of innovative methods and facilitation formats. Such as, these include ideathons, hackathons, design sprints, innovation programs, and stakeholder dialogues.

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What is the difference with collaborative intelligence?

Which organizes work within an existing project, and collective intelligence, which defines the framework for a project from problem identification to key element recognition. Thus, distinction paves the way for groundbreaking solutions.

The imperative of collective intelligence

Why should we embrace it?

Next, today’s challenges are intricate, resembling ecosystem problems with no universal, quick-fix solutions. Then, tackling them necessitates collaboration and interaction among diverse stakeholders. Similarly, the interdependence within ecosystems demands collective thinking to address issues spanning economic, geopolitical, social, and environmental dimensions.

Objectives of collective intelligence

Its goals encompass:

  • Crafting innovative solutions.
  • Breaking free from hierarchical norms to tap into individual intelligence.
  • Reflecting, identifying, and prioritizing problems.
  • Understanding and integrating multiple perspectives.
  • Initiating conversations among various stakeholders.
  • Co-creating solutions.
  • Adapting to societal needs.
  • Anticipating externalities and negative impacts.
  • Optimizing the acceptability of solutions or public policies.

Who benefits from collective intelligence?

Public and private organizations, irrespective of size, require adaptable innovation approaches to navigate a dynamic world. To address complex problems effectively, it’s crucial to develop new working practices that embrace various constraints and offer tailor-made solutions. Breaking free from conventional thinking is essential to anticipate and shape the future.

Empowering creativity

Participation in collective intelligence workshops reveals the remarkable ability of individuals, even non-experts, to collaboratively define problems and discover unique solutions. The diverse profiles, cultural backgrounds, and cognitive abilities of participants, along with facilitation tools and exercises, fuel creativity.

  1. Diversity Unleashes Creativity: Professionals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, genders, and geographical origins enrich the pool of intelligences present.
  2. Tools for Innovation: Embracing new tools and methods broadens individual skillsets and introduces fresh ways of thinking and working.
  3. Broadening Perspectives: Exposure to different environments, sectors, and nationalities fosters an expansive outlook.

Its Mechanisms

How does it work?

It thrives on:

  • A Common Goal: All contributors align with a defined objective and expected results.
  • Facilitation: Coordinating expertise and knowledge using defined stages and formats to stimulate interaction and idea generation.
  • Collaborative Tools: A variety of digital tools and platforms support productive collaboration.

A glimpse into running a collective intelligence workshop

Incorporating moments of reflection, emotion, and action, such as plenary sessions and subgroup discussions, enhances the process.

  • Icebreaker for introductions and preparation.
  • Alignment of issues and vocabulary.
  • Problem definition.
  • Inspiration phase.
  • Foresight.
  • Controversy.
  • Brainstorming (idea generation).
  • Idea exploration.
  • Voting.
  • Synthesis.
  • Prototyping, and more.


The art of facilitation

On the one hand, facilitating collective intelligence involves specific skills and approaches, including:

  • Active listening and equal participation.
  • Kindness and empathy.
  • Maintaining the discussion’s pace and direction.

On the other hand, it is essential to have a overview of best practices to facilitate collective intelligence workshop: 

  • Effective communication and agenda-setting.
  • Allocating breaks.
  • Properly concluding discussions.
  • Preferably choosing a fully face-to-face or remote format, avoiding hybrid setups. In remote formats, ensuring participants are prepared for the tools and potential technical issues.

The journey of exploring and embracing collective intelligence is an exciting endeavor, and its potential for innovation knows no bounds.

Inspiration from Nature

Finally, we can observe collective intelligence not only in individuals within organizations, but also in animals. In simpler terms, this includes things like creativity, performance, multiple interactions, synergies, and so on. The collective scale of animals is found in communal species (shoals of fish, migratory birds, packs of wolves, hyenas, etc.). But even more so, this collective interaction is found in so-called “social” insects such as ants, bees, termites and cockroaches.

In short, it is their way of communicating with each other that creates synergy. Known as “local communication”, this takes 3 forms:

  • Alignment: the action of moving towards the average direction of the species in the group.

  • Repulsion: avoiding collisions

  • Attraction: the action of moving towards the average position in the group

What if we took inspiration from these species to enhance the unity of organizations?


Collective Intelligence - Inspiration from the animals world
Collective Intelligence - Inspiration from the animals world


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