How often have you sat in a meeting, or with a group of people and had that thought? If we could all just come together, bring in all of the intelligence, the heart, the experience of everyone involved, surely we could find a solution.
I know I have felt that often in my life. In my family, in my work, in my community. What I also know is that throughout my life, the best solutions, the best actions, the things I have been most proud of have always come from moments when I was lucky enough to be in a group where we were able to do just that. We found a way to bring in conflicting views and experiences, great differences of values even, and synthesize them to come to a new understanding that leads to deeper knowing and then to powerful action. In those moments it felt like magic. The magic of working with collective intelligence.
Much of my work, both as a trainer and organizational consultant has been dedicated to finding ways for this to happen consciously. To become the backstage hand to the "magician" as it were and create that space where potential can unfold, where it is possible to bring all of our minds and hearts together.
Accessing Collective Intelligence
Over the years what I have found the most important ingredient for this is to shift my focus form the content of any given meeting to the setting. If I can create a good setting, then the magic will show up.
The setting needs to be open enough in terms of content so that people can contribute what is important to them, even if it is not "popular." It needs to be robust enough to handle conflict and connection, it needs to be structured enough so that people can find one another, and at the same time, it needs to be free enough that the unexpected can happen, and that all that needs and wants to be expressed has a place.
One of the most powerful ways that I have found to help me create this setting is the large group methodology called Open Space Technology. It offers a simple and elegant, yet powerful framework to allow for people to be able to bring their hearts and minds together. To come to solutions that are better than anything one person could ever have created, no matter how brilliant, and to build relationships and understanding along the way between people who share very different opinions and values and even ideologies.
Learn more about Working with Open Space Technology to access collective intelligence in your organization or group.
Want to learn to facilitate meetings this way? Find an upcoming workshop here.