The Power of Collaborative and Collective Genius

I recently worked with a client who struggled with several difficult and challenging problems. The CEO of this organization confided that not being able to solve this particular situation was stressful and frustrating.

As a coach, my core belief is that each of us is extremely capable, though most people don’t come close to accessing or using their potential. This is due partly to the fact that we don’t know how capable we are, and we are not regularly asked to bring our best ideas to the challenges we face, particularly in the workplace.

So, I brought this question to my client for consideration. A group of the organization’s employees were working through a mindful problem-solving skill training program, a perfect time to activate their thinking and have them use what they were learning to fully understand the challenge the CEO and organization were facing and then brainstorm possible solutions. They were not to solve; instead they were to help the CEO out by using their diverse perspectives and share their best ideas.

The goal of this was for the organization to learn how to better engage the collaborative and collective genius of others to see, consider and brainstorm – to expand what they consider before they choose and act. It was to give them permission to consider moving past the conventional and recurrent ideas to ones that were wiser and more sustainable.

It worked. A solution came from the greater number of ideas generated.

To activate your teams’ collaborative and collective genius, consider the following.

  • During the job candidate interview process, test and assess your potential future employees’ ability to think creatively and critically. Though these are skills, many people have not learned or developed them. Ensure all who join your organization are able to play big with ideas to contribute and encourage the contributions of others.
  • Create a workplace culture that requires all employees to contribute ideas to improve the organization. Don’t exclude any role in the organization from collaborating and contributing. Each employee has a great number of life’s experiences that inspire ideas. The “best ideas” are not exclusive to managerial or leader roles. Your front-line employees have ideas and perspectives that may be just the solution needed.
  • Applaud ideas, not just solutions. Most workplace cultures value solutions more than ideas and critical thinking. The result is that most organizations don’t give themselves enough ideas from which to choose the best. Remember the adage, “To have a great idea, you first have to have a lot of ideas.” Encourage ideas to be able to create solutions.

There is great truth in the expression, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” The role of manager, leader or CEO does not make you smarter than the rest. Rather, the smart managers, leaders and CEOs constantly source ideas, information and perspectives from everyone in the organization. Use the genius of your workforce to be adaptable and resilient in today’s workplace.

Take Action
What project, issue or challenge would benefit from your organization’s collaborative and collective genius? How will you assemble a team and guide them in how to collaborate to share ideas to help you solve both small and large challenges?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Pay or Performance – What Really Activates Employee Performance?

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NOTE: The full article appeared on Vistage Florida Speaker Spotlight on August 5, 2019: https://research.vistageflorida.com/the-power-of-collaborative-and-collective-genius

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