Not everyone has a natural aptitude or appetite for collaborative problem solving. Though effective collaboration requires a skill that can be learned and improved, some people are naturally better at collaboration than others.
Alliance success is threatened when the wrong people ––those lacking collaborative intelligence (CI) –– participate. CI, the ability to work productively together for a common
goal, is a critical ingredient for successful value alliances. If an alliance possesses a sufficiently high level of CI, it can overcome participants’ natural resistance to ceding control to an independent entity, and it can facilitate productive interactions among diverse individuals and organizations.
It’s not just the capacity of one individual that matters, but the collective CI of the group. Invariably, a diverse group will possess representatives with varying degrees of CI. Therefore, your assessment of CI needs to focus on the whole rather than the parts. You need to look at the collective CI of the group and determine if it’s sufficient to solve the complex problem the group has been convened to address.
This factor is key to determining if you should become involved in building or joining an alliance. Increasingly, the world is organizing itself into collaborative networks as a means of achieving competitiveness. In the future, success will be defined by the collaborative alliances you form or join. Participation in an alliance is an investment decision because it allocates your resources, including time, money and people. Not every alliance is worth your time and effort, so you need to be astute in your assessment.
In environments where high CI exists, people react differently to common work situations. For instance, when low-CI work groups face a crisis, failure or serious problem, people tend to react with cynicism, negativity and blaming. In a high-CI group, the typical reaction is increased productivity. This group understands that the solution to the problem resides in applying their collective knowledge and skills to help each other work toward a solution, and that means that problems or setbacks catalyze a greater output of energy and effort. Another characteristic of collectively high CI is that people share ideas and information all along the way, not just at the end. Doing so helps the group work more productively and with less friction.
Low-CI people hoard information for a number of reasons. If they’re in a group with competitors, they fear what their competitors will do with the information they share. Information hoarding often prevents the group from functioning effectively.
An effective collaborative group works smoothly in the face of tension between self-interest and the interest of the group. Don’t assume that when you see a gathering of high-CI individuals you’re viewing an altruistic, self-sacrificing group. What’s distinctive is that they are sufficiently solution-oriented that they overcome their reluctance to share information, ideas and resources with outsiders. They reach across the aisle and initiate discussions, volunteer assistance and listen receptively