Enhancing Innovation and Collective Intelligence

Studies continue to report that diverse and inclusive leadership teams produce more creative and innovative results. Scientific American article “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” based on decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers, states: “The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.”

The Catalyst Information Center reports that “better problem-solving and increased creativity are positively as- sociated with a variety of diversity attributes.” For example, German researchers found in one study that teams with women and minorities performed better on highly complex tasks primarily because of the wider range of thinking processes and increased creativity. Another study found that mixed-gender U.S. teams in the IT industry produced more patents for new products than all-male teams. Other researchers agree that having more women in groups has been linked to effectiveness in solving difficult problems.

Researchers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College studied collective intelligence levels in high-functioning groups. They found that the number of women was a major factor in creating groups with the best internal dynamics for ultimate collective intelligence. Social sensitivity was identified as a critical component for success, and these researchers found that women had higher levels. Their research findings revealed that the “number of women in the group significantly predicted the effective problem-solving abilities of the group overall.” As with other studies, the researchers also found that the collective intelligence of the group exceeded the cognitive abilities and aptitudes of the individual members of the group. This collective intelligence is critical to effective decision making and problem solving, as well as high levels of innovation and creativity.

Source: Utah Women and Leadership Project, Research Brief No. 5, January 2015.

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One thought to “Enhancing Innovation and Collective Intelligence”

  1. I loved the insight and information this article gave me as well as the perspective of what women can bring to the innovative table. I am confident in time men will see the wisdom in listening to a women’s perceptions on issues.

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