The Organization as a body-2,How to gain the most from collective intelligence

When we think about intelligence, we often think about the the organ with which we do all the thinking- the brain. Or maybe we would think of that most ephemeral of all aspects in us, one which is at the same time something with which we are most in touch within ourselves. Indeed, it’s not unheard of for people to sometimes identify so completely with this particular aspect they consider it as synonymous with the ‘self.’ 

We are here talking about the mind, of course.

While the scientifically verified brain and the empirically felt mind are both essential to our lives, intelligence is not purely a cognitive function.(Regardless of how much some pseudo-intellectuals may want you to believe otherwise.) For the fact is that intelligence- or rather intelligence as we define it in humans- wouldn’t be possible without the body. Sure, we experience intelligence as a cognitive function but the simple fact is that your body(excluding the brain) is very much a contributor to your overall intelligence.



An organization is like a bee hive, the collective intelligence of which can be beneficial for all

Substantiating this are studies which show how physical exercises improve one’s intelligence quotient. A simple Google search would throw up plenty of related stories from reputed publications.

Intelligence as an asset to be managed

We can draw a direct parallel between this and the idea that an organization is a body.

In typical organizational hierarchy, the ‘intelligence’ aspect is mostly centralized. It’s a top-down model that is followed in most cases. This involves the major decisions- the ones that have the most wide-ranging effects within the organization- being taken by a handful of people. Most times, these decisions are made without consulting with the rest of the ‘body.’

Now, such a hierarchy may be desirable in many situations. Indeed, it’s easy to assume how sluggish the company’s pace of functioning would be if each and every decision would have to be made only after multiple persons or teams are consulted. Also, in the course of running an organization, there may come times that call for quick response to a development- whether external or internal.

And in such times, it’s always better to have the least number of people involved in the decision-making. Otherwise, the aspect of quick response would become a moot point.

Now that we have looked at the usefulness of the decision-making hierarchy, let’s look at the downsides. There are two major negative aspects to it which a leader should be aware of.

1. The centralization of decision-making, though often necessary can also result in a demoralized workforce. The typical strategy that leaders adopt in these situations is to inform the change agents about the logic behind a particular decision. This usually happens usually after the decision has been made. Even if the change agents are in full agreement with the logic that led to the decision, the fact remains that they aren’t part of the decision-making. In other words, the element of empowerment is minimal, if at all.

2.By following a centralized hierarchy, you are essentially blocking a lot of potentially meaningful contributions to decisions. Decisions that may even lead to a new service or product being designed that would elevate the organization for good. Just as intelligence in the human body is (wrongly) associated only with the brain, the decision-making intelligence is often related only to a centralized group of people.

Helping your team members discover their Compelling Shared Vision is the way to negate both these problems.

Democratizing intelligence in organizations

Compelling Shared Vision is the vision that’s born from among the team members. Based on their skill sets and aspirations, this is a unique vision that would act as the shared goal towards which they could move. As opposed to targets provided for a team, compelling shared vision, as mentioned before, is born from among the team members. This means that they are more driven to realize it than any goal imposed from the outside. 



Moreover, the Compelling Shared Vision would be in tune with the overall vision that the organization is pursuing. This way, the team members have the autonomy to pursue something born from their own intelligence, even as it fits inside the company’s vision. This makes them more empowered even as the leader gets to make use of their full intelligence.

Temenos Vision Lab or TVL is a unique session developed by Temenos+Agility that helps teams realize their Compelling Shared Vision. Based on 25 years of business consultancy experience, TVL also incorporates the use of proprietary tools.

Some of the best leadership coaches in business help guide teams to their Compelling Shared Vision in TVL.

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