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Collaborative Intelligence: Humans & AI Joining Forces

Organizations are encountering tighter deadlines and increased turbulence in their markets, driving them to form more teams with complex challenges for improving teamwork such as distributed membership, shorter spans of working together, and including members from multiple organisations with no prior history of collaboration.

   Artificial Intelligence (AI) As a consequence, Artificial Intelligence is emerging as a potential growth area for facilitating the improvement and development of teams in a changing workplace. As opposed to the traditional team model, today’s teams are known as 4-D teams; diverse, digital, dispersed, and dynamic.  Rather than team as a noun, organisations are using the verb teaming to describe teams with fluid membership that changes as the project specs change and the resource needs of the team change. AI provides a foundation for gathering important team information, identifying areas of strength and weakness within the team, correctly matching personality, skill with task and providing diagnostic tools to help leverage the right action. Intégro Learning SA, a team specialist company, has pioneered a team AI software operating system called, ‘Teaming Excellence’ for such purposes.

   AI & Team Intelligence – AI facilitates ‘thinking together’ effortlessly, with speed and across boundaries. Thinking together, also known as collective thinking breeds team intelligence. It is a purposeful and pragmatic activity that leads to or enables coordinated action rather than just being ‘warm and fuzzy’ or purposeless. It is the meeting of minds where each person retains his/her individuality and at the same time contributes to a robust and diverse group-level conversation. It activates latent team potential. We value intelligent individuals but seem to lack ways of understanding and working with thinking in the “team-as-a-whole”. In fact, effective collaborative thinking is the “engine room” of the modern “knowledge and learning organization”.  

   AI & Collective Thinking

Four dynamic principles underpin and drive collective thinking, and AI helps provide practical guidance to leaders for building the quality of collective thinking in teams. They are;

  1. Purpose; The team develops a shared understanding of its purpose and support for the longer term vision of the team amongst those involved at all times. It is this shared understanding that provides much of the authority to act and that is an essential part of the mental “container” for the team’s effective functioning.
  2. Managing Self – Focus & Distraction; Good “self-management” enables team members to be present emotionally and psychologically in the “here & now”. Consequently conversations will emerge that support the purpose of the team in the process of relating to others and the team as a whole. Distraction can easily divert this focus away from thinking together like a comment from a member that pushes an emotional “button” for some. Keeping the focus is the priority.
  3. Relationships; Relationships are the catalyst for creating thinking spaces. ‘Thinking togetheroccurs only in the context of some form of relationship and that the quality of that relationship has a huge impact on the quality of the thinking. Expectations are at the heart of relationships. The most powerful predictor of whether a particular relationship will provide a good thinking space at any given time is the kind of expectation that each party has about how safe, secure and responsive that relationship will be. AI ensures the correct matching of people for that purpose.
  4. Mutual Responsibility; The responsibility for building and maintaining thinking spaces in the team needs to be shared by members of the team and not left to the formal leader or facilitator. Consequently, the leader has two main functions: (a) Overtly model behaviours that support building and maintaining good utilization of high quality thinking spaces, (b) Deliberately create conditions (AI’s 360° team effectiveness assessments) that will motivate and influence team members to take active part in creating, maintaining and using high quality thinking spaces.

Sources: Johan Cronjé, Specialist Coach Intégro Learning SA; Martin Ringer, Leadership for Collective Thinking in the Work Place; Business Horizons Publication