As we explore ways to generate more effective groups, organizations,
institutions, and other human systems, it may help to begin by taking
a closer look at collective intelligence.
When I investigate the problems that we face in the world today,
I seldom find that individual evil is a central cause. More often
I find basically good, intelligent people collectively generating
discord and disaster -- in families, groups, organizations, nations
and the world. Meanwhile, in their own lives, from their own perspective
(and usually that of their loved ones), most of them are doing perfectly
good, decent things. How can this be?
Clearly individual intelligence is not enough. If we wish
to successfully deal with the various social and environmental challenges
we face today, we need to develop far more collective intelligence
as a society and as a global civilization -- and then apply that
collective intelligence with wisdom.
There are many different kinds of collective intelligence, including
- the collective intelligence generated by high quality conversations
among diverse people working together
- the collective intelligence generated by independent consumers
in a market
- the collective intelligence of global information systems we
reach through computers
- the psycho-spiritual fields of collective intelligence we can
reach through meditation and deep dialogue
- the collective intelligence of whole societies who weave all
of these into their cultures and into their political, governmental
and economic institutions.
To date, much has been learned about how to develop collective
intelligence within organizations-usually to help corporations become
more competitive in the global market. Good work has also been done
to increase collective intelligence in civil society at the community
level, especially to deal with local environmental conflicts.
Yet comparatively little effort has been applied toward building
collective intelligence in the public sector, for governance and
social system design. In order to ensure our success as a species,
we will need to apply what we have learned about collective intelligence
to improve our capacity to create sustainable social, political,
and economic systems that work well for everyone involved.
This much is clear: Given the right conditions -- conditions
which have been created in numerous environments around the world
on many occasions -- communities and societies can collectively
reflect on their problems and possibilities, and collectively choose
and implement effective, even brilliant solutions and initiatives.
Understanding collective intelligence can help us fulfill the original
dream of democracy:
the participatory determination of our collective fate.
You can explore collective intelligence further in the articles
Levels/realms of human collective
Is Collective Intelligence
Like Individual Intelligence?
Collective intelligence is only
one-fifth of co-intelligence
as a field, takes off
Defining Collective Intelligence
Emerging and converging fields
of study and practice involving collective intelligence
on Factors in Collective Intelligence-- (a longer brainstorm
on Forms of Collective Intelligence
on Wisdom and Collective Intelligence
THE COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
CONVERGENCE to Define and Advance the Field of Collective Intelligence
(includes a vision of the emerging field, a founding document, "Convening
the Field of Collective Intelligence", and a list of practitioners
and researchers and their websites). The event did not come off
as planned,but it evolved into an
interesting website, which will include discussion of the Tovey
The Tao of Democracy
by Tom Atlee
Intelligence - An Introduction edited by Nasreen Taher (2007)
Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace edited by
Mark Tovey (2008) (Free
See also Democracy and
To explore blogs about collective intelligence, click
here and here.
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