Facilitator Journal | Issue #0171 September 21, 2004 | 7,000 Subscribers...
This week's article, "Dimensions of Collective Intelligence,
submitted by noted author, democracy innovator, and founder of the
Co-Intelligence Institute, Tom Atlee.
It turns out that even when thousands of people don't talk to each
other at all, they can still be (somewhat mysteriously) collectively
brilliant in solving problems. All told, there seem to be at least
eight different -- and often mutually reinforcing -- types of collective
intelligence, which are briefly described in this article.
We're excited to also have Tom co-host our next Micro-Skills Tele-Seminar
September 30th at 1:00 PM EDT. In this one hour teleclass,
Tom and I will explore the concept of "Collective Intelligence--the
greater intelligence that's at work when a whole group, organization,
community or society addresses its problems well--and look at facilitator
interventions that can influence
collective intelligence in groups and meetings. Please see details
below and consider joining us on this call.
any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation,
group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest
our readers, please send
them to us.
articles and growing
Dimensions of Collective Intelligence
the eight forms of collective intelligence.
Think about the best
and worst meetings you've attended. Think about Congress. Think about
how the peace movement makes decisions. Think about how the Bush administration
planned for the Iraq war.
All around us we see evidence that groups of people are often less intelligent
-- and occasionally more intelligent -- than their members are as individuals.
Those who study this phenomenon often call it "collective intelligence"
(or "collective stupidity").
Collective intelligence has little to do with how smart the "individual"
members of a group are. Groups of bright people can be collectively stupid
(a phenomena Irwin Janis called "groupthink") -- whereas very
ordinary or dull people can, under the right circumstances, generate real
All of us know that conversations and meetings can be productive or crazy-making.
But how many of us know that thousands of us ordinary humans can make
independent guesses or predictions about something -- and collectively
average a more accurate estimate than over 90% of us do individually.
All these realities
reveal collective intelligence (or its shadow, collective stupidity) at
is a holy grail of social change. If we could better understand how to
support it, increase it and facilitate it, we would be more able to effectively
co-create a better world. Doing that, of course, involves significant
political, economic, social, cultural, organizational and spiritual challenges.
But the rewards, when these challenges are successfully engaged, are tremendous.
I have been
exploring this subject since the late 1980s, when hardly anyone was talking
about it. Now "collective intelligence" is such a common a phrase
that Google lists 46,700 pages using it -- as well as tens of thousands
of other pages using comparable terms like "collective IQ,"
"collective wisdom," "community intelligence," "group
intelligence," and so on.
And I am truly amazed at the number of different "kinds" of
collective intelligence people are talking about, and the number of different
perspectives they have on the subject. Furthermore, their explorations
of this topic are becoming more sophisticated every year. I now find myself
surrounded by the population of a busy city in a once-raw territory I
helped pioneer, often meeting other pioneers I didn't even know were there
at the beginning, so vast and undeveloped was the landscape back then.
Three of my
own recent contributions to this work are on the Collective
Intelligence Blog (weblog) where I discussed eight forms of collective
intelligence people seem to be talking about:
collective intelligence. This includes efforts by groups, organizations
and communities to consciously use their diversity as a resource to address
common concerns. Here we find all those great methods for dialogue and
here for more on this).
Structural collective intelligence. This is generated
by official standards, architectural and community designs, laws, institutions,
and other social systems that help people's collective behaviors add up
to something that makes sense instead of frustrating them or creating
more problems. For example, statistics that reveal how healthy and happy
a community is generate more collective intelligence than those (such
as Gross Domestic Product) that measure only how much money gets spent.
Evolutionary collective intelligence. This is the learned
wisdom and workable patterns that we find embedded in cultures (e.g.,
myths and proverbs) and ecosystems (e.g., the field of biomimicry),
as well as in society's great collective learning enterprises like scientific,
academic and thinktank research activities that cultivate ever-expanding
fields of evolving knowledge.
Informational collective intelligence. This form of collective
intelligence is generated by the fact that so much information is available
to so many people through media, libraries, the Internet, networks of
associates, and so on. Some information technology visionaries speak of
this as "the global brain." (Click
here for more on this)
Noetic -- or consciousness-based -- collective intelligence.
Prophets, mystics, shamans, clairvoyants and everyday meditators often
connect with levels of reality or sources of wisdom beyond normal awareness,
usually realms of deep kinship, wholeness or Oneness. As more people develop
these special modes of consciousness -- individually and together -- tapping
into (or attuning to) such transpersonal realms is becoming more common.
(Click here for
more on this)
Flow -- or mutual-attunement-based collective intelligence.
Here we may find a top improvisational jazz group or basketball team acting
as one coherent smoothly-functioning entity. Here we also find intelligent
flocking behaviors and hive dynamics in nature. In each case, the group
just hums productively along. And in flowing human groups, individual
capacities and uniqueness are often enhanced by the process. (Click
here for more on this)
Statistical collective intelligence. This odd phenomenon
arises from the fact that, under the right conditions, dozens or thousands
of people, ants, and even virtual "agents" (entities that exist
only in computers) can arrive at brilliant solutions to their problems
without even communicating with each other, simply by "covering the
territory" or averaging out their behaviors or guesses. (Click
here for more on this)
Revelational collective intelligence. Here we find answers
that seem to appear in our midst almost from nowhere, simply because they
are relevant -- often by one person MISunderstanding what another person
says, or by "accidentally" stumbling on the exact vital information
in a newspaper. Search engines attempt to engineer this, but it often
happens mysteriously in life. (Click
here for more on this)
In the Co-Intelligence Institute, we do a lot of work with the first four
types of collective intelligence, because we believe they are basic to
creating a wise democracy. However, others are focusing on other forms
of collective intelligence, with good reasons of their own.
And now that I've
painted the big picture of this rapidly emerging field, I want to alert
you to several remarkable people and documents I've seen recently. I can't
recommend them highly enough. I've provided some summaries and commentary
so you don't have to read them. But if you are at all interested in this
topic, I think every one of them will excite you. Additional links are
peppered throughout to further spice up your explorations. Enjoy
them all. They are true treasures!
About the Author: Tom
Atlee is founder and co-director of the non-profit Co-Intelligence Institute.
Visit his site at www.co-intelligence.org
for more on this subject.
How have you noticed and/or facilitated co-intelligence arising in your
groups? Please send
us your questions and comments.
Featuring Tom Atlee,
author, democracy innovator, and founder of the
Attend this one-hour tele-seminar on
September 30th at 1:00 PM EDT (NY Time).
"Just in Time" Learning
Join Tom Atlee
on Thursday, September 30th at 1:00 PM EDT (NY Time)
for a one-hour interview where we'll explore the concept of "Collective
Intelligence-- a form of intelligence grounded in the recognition of the
value of diversity, unity, relationship, context, uniqueness and the spirit
inside each of us and the world--and look at facilitator interventions
that can influence
collective intelligence in groups and meetings.
Our discussion will draw from the following points...
We've been hearing
about collective intelligence, group mind, collective wisdom, collective
consciousness, and so on. What is your sense of these phenomena and how
do you distinguish between them?
What factors or interventions do you find influence collective intelligence
in groups and meetings?
What are some of your
favorite methods and processes for meetings and conferences -- and why
do you prefer them?
You talk about "systemic societal intelligence" and "wise
democracy." What's all that about?
You seem to focus a lot on what you call citizen deliberative councils.
What are they and why are they so central to your work?
How do you see facilitators fitting into all this?
Whose work do you find particularly exciting in this field?
I know from your website that your consider collective intelligence part
of a larger field you call co-intelligence. What's the difference?
What are the edges of your own thinking in this area? What inquiries are
alive for you right now?
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.
Where Is Your Group Intelligence? Essay
by Rick Dove, Paradigm Shift International, exploring where intelligence
and culture reside in your organization.
2. Collective Intelligence Mankind's Emerging
World in Cyberspace. An important contribution exploring
the impact of computers on society and culture.
About Tom: Tom Atlee is founder
and co-director of the non-profit Co-Intelligence Institute. Recently
his work has focused on developing our capacity to function as a wise
democracy, so we can turn our social and environmental challenges into
positive developments for our society. His social change vision is based
on new understandings of wholeness which recognize the value of diversity,
unity, relationship, context, uniqueness and the spirit inside each of
us and the world. Co-intelligence theory also acknowledges many facets
of intelligence (like head and heart), wisdom, and the higher forms of
intelligence (natural and sacred) that move through and beyond us. Although
Tom and the Institute focus on very practical issues of group, social
and political dynamics, co-intelligence has many esoteric dimensions as
for details about this interview, the bonuses, and registration.
Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World
That Works for All, by Tom Atlee
What Tom Atlee is writing about is just about the most important thing
that's happening at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Paul
H. Ray, Ph.D, co-author of "The Cultural Creatives."
cannot say enough good things about this book. Tom Atlee gets credit for
defining a "bottom up" approach that is sensible and implementable.
This book focuses on what comes next, after everyone gets tired of just
"meeting up" or "just blogging." This book is about
collective intelligence for the common good, and it is a very fine book.
-- Robert D. Steele (Oakton, VA USA, Amazon.com Top 100 Reviewer)
Teleclass for facilitators and change agents.
skills and attitudes for the new and experienced
facilitator who wants to get their group into
want to thank you for designing a course that lived up to
its advertisement. I found the daily curriculum practical
and thought provoking. The ideas developed each day created
foundations for the lessons to follow. Many "acts of
facilitation" were immediately applicable to my facilitation
practice. The tone of each class was a supportive learning
environment. Each class ended on a note of high-energy with
encouraging words and an opportunity for feedback. --Steven
Pyser, J.D., Consultant--
Random Acts of Facilitation, 5-Day Teleclass
This class will meet over a telephone bridge line for five
consecutive weekdays October 11-15, 2004 at 10:00 AM PDT,
1:00 PM EDT (NY Time) to cover 25+ facilitative actions you
can take to empower and move groups forward. This course,
that you can take from the comfort of your own home or office,
is for beginning facilitators, group leaders, or group members
who simply want to know more about facilitation so that they
can make their groups more effective. These "discrete"
acts of facilitation also lend themselves to being taught
to your group members who desire to become more self-facilitative.
the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri)
for a 60-minute focused training segment using a conferencing
2. You work a 25-point checklist during the 5 days (about
an hour a day of study and field work) which you complete
by Friday afternoon, or sooner if you wish.
3. You will have the opportunity to discuss issues on the
subject matter with the instructor and your classmates via
an online discussion forum during the course.
4. During the week, you may access the instructor via email
for help or situational questions.
Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the 5-Day
Introduction to the Facilitation
and Self Facilitation Skills.
1. Set the Stage.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
5. Me First.
Relating with compassion and understanding.
6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.
11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation
Organizing and Presenting yourself
confidently, professionally, and authentically.
17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message
Intervening to shift group energy
22. Tame the Tormentors.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path
to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of
facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator,
team leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you come
in contact with.
4. Learn skills to help groups make quantum leaps in their
5. Be a catalyst for positive change in your community.
Also included with your
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also
1. Comprehensive 15-page Student Learning Guide.
access to the participant-only website (lots of resources,
3. Free access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training.
4. Free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).
The full cost of training/access is only $79 if you register
by September 30th. ($89 for the general public) including
a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything
you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed
October 11-15, 2004, 10:00 AM PDT, 1:00 PM EDT (NY Time),
60 minutes each day.
I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience excellent
modeling of what good facilitation is, to sign up for this
teleclass. --Elain Wylie, Life Coach--
upon completion of your registration, you will receive an
email with instructions to access the course and free article
bank. This course is limited
to 20 individuals, first come, first served.
here to register now
5-Day Real Audio Version
You'll be provided
with access to three separate recorded offerings of the five-hour
teleclass (15 hours total) that you can listen to online and
follow along in the learning guide is used in the live class.
here to purchase for $69. We will also include
a free copy of the Portable
Article Bank ($29 value) with your purchase. We
offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.
5-Day CD Version
The Compact Disk (CD)
version comes with all of the self-guided features listed
above, together with 5 CD's you'll receive by mail that you
can listen to anywhere you have access to a CD player.
here to purchase the
CD Version for $79
plus $4 Shipping and Handling
the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this training,
simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit
card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's
our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case.
here for a one-minute audio testimonial from several
participants on the final day of the teleclass.