The most intelligent groups aren’t just a bunch of smart people — Thomas Malone

From Quartz

It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to think about themselves not just in terms of their productivity and efficiency, but also their intelligence. But how do you measure an organization’s intelligence? And with so many groups working remotely, can you measure an online group’s intelligence? It turns out that you can measure and predict group intelligence, and that the same factors affect both face-to-face and online groups.

In a prior study, my colleagues and I took the same statistics techniques used to measure individual intelligence and applied them to measure the intelligence of groups. As far as we know, nobody had ever before asked if groups had an “intelligence factor,” just as individuals do.

We found that there is indeed a single statistical factor for group intelligence that predicts how well the group will perform on a wide variety of tasks. We called this factor “collective intelligence,” and it is only moderately correlated with the average individual intelligence of people in the group. In other words, having a bunch of smart people in the group doesn’t necessarily lead to a smart group. Instead, we found three other factors that predict collective intelligence.

The first was average social perceptiveness or social intelligence of group members. We measured this with a test called “Reading the Mind in the Eyes.” In this test, you look at pictures of other people’s faces and try to guess their emotions. When people in the group are good at that, the group on average is more collectively intelligent.

The second factor was the degree to which people participated equally in a group conversation. When one or two people dominated the conversation, the group was on average less intelligent than when the participation was more evenly spread among the group members.

Read the full post at Quartz. 

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology, and the Founding Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 


GM can recover if it changes the culture — Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From Detroit Free Press

It’s been a rough year for General Motors. The company has recalled more than 28 million vehicles worldwide and is liable for billions of dollars in automotive repairs and victim compensation. It suffered an 85% drop in its second-quarter earnings and faces multiple state investigations, not to mention class-action lawsuits related to safety issues. Can GM recover from this massive crisis?

It can make a comeback, but the recovery hinges on changing the organization’s culture. For years, GM focused on cost-effectiveness and the bottom line, creating what the new CEO Mary Barra calls “a pattern of incompetence and neglect.” To address the current crisis, she of course needs to fix the safety problems, but she also needs to create a new company culture. Safety must become the priority over cost savings in order to regain consumer and market trust, and GM’s focus needs to be on the customer.

So far, Barra, who inherited the crisis when she was promoted to CEO this past January, is moving in the right direction. By firing 15 employees who were involved in the lack of communication about safety issues, she sent a powerful message both within and outside of the company about the company’s changing priorities.

Read the full post at the Detroit Free Press.

Neal Hartman is a Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Seven steps to running the most effective meeting possible — Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From Forbes

The meeting that drones on and on; the meeting where everyone sits fiddling with his or her smartphone; the meeting that Doug from Accounting hijacks; or the meeting where almost everyone in the room is wondering the same thing: Why am I even here?

Meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the workday, and yet most employees consider them as a waste of time. According to a survey of U.S. professionals by, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer. (Dealing with office politics was a close second, according to the 2012 survey.)

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Negotiating your next deal: It’s okay to, literally, sweat it — Ashley D. Brown

MIT Sloan Alumna Ashley D. Brown

MIT Sloan Alumna Ashley D. Brown

From Fortune

We negotiate nearly every day. While the term “negotiation” often brings to mind larger-stake deals, such as the purchase of a new home or car, more often these negotiations are smaller and involve project deadlines at work or divvying up of household responsibilities.

Many of us, myself included, can’t stand negotiations whether big or small — so much so that it comes as a surprise that others actually relish each chance they get to negotiate.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, most of us can relate to the feeling of pounding hearts and sweaty palms when we negotiate. Do these visceral responses — also known as physiological arousal — hurt or help us?

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Big chairs create big cheats — Andy Yap

MIT Sloan Lecturer Andy Yap

MIT Sloan Lecturer Andy Yap

From Harvard Business Review

The research: In a series of experiments, Andy Yap and his colleagues examined the impact that people’s ergonomic environments had on their ethics. The studies tested whether being put into an expansive or a contracted posture would affect people’s honesty. The results showed that subjects in larger workspaces and seats, which encouraged expansive postures, were more likely than other subjects to pocket, rather than return, an overpayment for participating in the study, to cheat on a test, and to break the rules in a driving simulation game.

The challenge: Is the boss a jerk because of the size of his chair? Is that guy running a red light because he’s in a giant SUV? Professor Yap, defend your research.

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