The 21st century with its advances in communication and technology requires us to be more agile than ever before in responding to business challenges and business leaders realise that helping employees access greater levels of collaborative intelligence at work is key to the future success of the business. It turns out that this is a way of motivating and retaining skilled people.
In a recent article released by GIBS entitled “The Age of Participation is about getting clever – together” (Gibs Review March 2008) they mention that research has shown a direct link between the level of collaboration within organisations and employee motivation, which depends on an individual’s attitude and the quality of their relationships within the team/entity.
Stephen James Joyce says in his book Teaching an Anthill to Fetch: Developing the Collaborative Intelligence of Teams, while that customer motivation impacts the quantity of business you do, employee motivation impacts the quality of business.
High levels of collaboration within an organisation improve employee retention, because people feel more connected and are much less inclined to leave.
Collaborative Intelligence is denoted with the symbol CQ, and is defined as is the ability to create, contribute to, and harness the power within networks of people. It enables participants to coordinate their actions closely with everyone else’s.
The GIBS Review quotes James Joyce as saying high CQ organisations:
- Attract and retain high quality team members
- Create a sense of meaningful participation
- Collaborate in highly effective ways
- Connect to a strong sense of purpose
- Balance leadership and followship
Moreover, high CQ holds many transformative advantages for organisations:
- People pull their weight and support each other to an extraordinary degree
- There is a vigorous pursuit for learning, at an individual and a the team level
- There is a sense of community within collaboratively intelligent teams/ departments, which others sense as something special.
- Teams or entities with high CQ expect challenges and meet them with one eye on the results and the other on what they can learn from each encounter.
Collaborative and collective intelligence are two distinct things
The GIBS Review warns that collaborative intelligence should not be confused with collective intelligence. They are two distinct things:
- Collective intelligence is the emergent intelligence of a collective entity, like a group or community.
- Collaborative intelligence is a way of exercising collective intelligence.
Co-intelligence can be used at any level of social organisation.
- A company can use better teamwork (collaborative intelligence) to build a more collectively intelligent company so that it can become dominant in its market (non-collaborative intelligence).
- A collectively intelligent group could use its collective intelligence in collaborative or controlling ways or use collaborative intelligence to help it compete.
Co-intelligence affects how organisations are managed. It is fundamental to our survival in the 21st century. This means we create serious problems, when we don’t use co-intelligence at the higher levels of social organisation.
Management guru, Professor Gary Hamel says few executives would argue with the traditional and outdated definition of a manager’s role: the art of getting others to do what you want them to do. In fact the Industrial Age was built on four basic principles:
- Managers have a clear vision
- Managers exert hierarchical power
- Managers get things done through bureaucratic procedures
- Managers motivate their people through extrinsic rewards.
Hamel has formulated four alternative, ‘inversed’ principles:
- Vision is often less effective than a guiding purpose and a desire for discovery
- Industrial Age hierarchic decisions are often less accurate than those based the wisdom of the crowd
- Bureaucratic procedure is often slower and less effective than a market-based system for allocating resources
- Human motivation is, in reality, built on intrinsic rewards not on money.
High CQ requires the right tools and the right attitude
Web 2.0 tools are most conducive to developing high collaboration quotients in organisations. Tools, like virtual meetings and Web-based applications and wikis - make it possible to do things at scale without necessarily having large groups of people physically aggregated, with hierarchic structures, says Hamel.
Collaborative tools also enable business professionals to explore the true potential of the group or team to which they belong. But, as useful as they are, collaborative tools are only part of the solution. As with most IT, it is not the technology itself that enables the competitive advantage, but the people. Witness CRM, the panacea of all customer relationships in 2000. It wasn’t until we figured out that having the software and the process wasn’t enough that organisations started to incorporate people skills into the solution and we see more successful CRM applications
In the same way CQ is quantified by what employees can and will do together, rather than what a piece of software will allow them to do.
James Joyce suggests 10 ways to develop people’s collaborative intelligence at work:
1. Establish a ‘higher calling’ for the team
- This is a common purpose that represents a higher calling and brings context to the significance of the team’s existence.
- Providing a service to society is the simplest way that an organisation can isolate a higher calling for its existence.
- This process must be entered with full sincerity. A ‘true’ higher calling is reflective of the culture and intentions of the organisation as a whole. It is core to what the organisation stands ‘‘for’ and how it plans to achieve that.
2. Establish a reward system for innovation and creativity
- Ensure that rewards are equally available for ideas and innovations that don’t work as for those that do.
- Instead of focusing on the practical results of a particular idea, focus the level of innovation, even those that don’t result in ‘success’ in the conventional sense.
- Many ‘mistakes’ have gone on to became innovations of great value
- When we reward attempts at innovation, we demonstrate that it is the intention that is important.
3. Plan to use all of the experience within the team
- Think of the years of life experience represented in a room of 15 people with an average age of 35. It represents over 500 years of life experience.
- Great team leaders and managers know how to harness and tap into those years of experience and wisdom.
4. Raise awareness of the importance of shared assumptions
- Assumptions cause us to run on ‘autopilot’.
- Supported by assumptions that go unchecked and unchallenged, teams continue to run the same old routines for a long time without anyone noticing.
5. Encourage team members to find out about each other’s roles
- The more they know about others perspectives, the more likely they will be able to empathise with each other when the going gets tough.
- Empathy is an important business skill. The ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes helps us understand what others’ needs and motivations are.
6. Intention is very important
- Intention is just as important as attention. Intention directs attention.
- Having the whole team form a positive intention around an objective is one of the best ways of doing this.
7. Celebrate successes along the way
- Making celebration an integral part of the organisational life helps individuals feel more deeply connected to the entity.
8. Invest resources in learning
- Continuous improvement is only possible when individuals and the team as a whole learn new things.
- By publicly demonstrating support for the learning process, leaders model the importance of building ‘learning organisations’. This serves everyone in the long run.
- Establishing learning teams’ is one of the core strategies of running an organisation that is highly adaptable and responsive to change
9. Provide opportunities for sharing ideas during the project-planning phase
- Getting ‘buy-in’ for a project is much easier when everyone plays an active part in the planning process.
10. Balance ‘top-down’ with ‘bottom-up’ processing
- This means that directives and guidance from the top must be balanced with feedback and ‘street-level’ information.
When we look at each of these ideas, we see that 2.0 technologies lend themselves to supporting collaboration. With careful planning it is possible to create an Internet based platform that becomes a strategic tool for facilitating collaboration and organisational growth.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.
Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org.