Collaboration for Group Genius: All of us are smarter than any of us.

Posted on by Brandon Klein


Only a portion of the answer, idea, or solution resides in any one person. Drawing out portions of the solution from any and all who possess those portions to make up the whole can be difficult due to organizational, cultural, environmental or personal constraints. In many cases, people outside the immediate area of the issue could substantially contribute to a successful solution and are not invited to participate, furthering the detrimental “not invented here” mind set. Contrarily, people closest to the issue often have the responsibility to solve it removed from them due to rank, history, or other organizational “noise” in the system.



All of us are smarter than any of us. A combination of personal experience, knowledge, education or other learnings produces a unique set of understandings which may apply to a specific circumstance, issue or problem. The axiom “to add your experience to some else’s experience – to create a new experience – is possibly valuable” speaks to the idea that releasing the genius of the group yields substantive improvements. However, group genius should not be confused with “group think” or the colloquial “group grope”, where opinions may be expressed for the sake of expression, without purpose or direction and without result.

A large group seldom does dumb things in an ASE setting. How does group genius emerge without a leader, in the manner of an organism? It just happens. Depend on the process to create what is needed. The Scan and Focus days create a common language and shared experience that are critical for the group to know what to do on the Act day.

“The edge of chaos may even provide a deep new understanding of the logic of democracy. We have enshrined democracy as our secular religion; we argue its moral and rational foundations, and base our lives on it. We hope that our heritage of democracy will spill out its abundance of freedom over the globe. And . . . we find surprising new grounds for the secular wisdom of democracy in its capacity to solve extremely hard problems characterized by intertwining webs of conflicting interests. People organize into communities, each of which acts for its own benefit, jockeying to seek compromises among conflicting interests. This seemingly haphazard process also shows an ordered regime where poor compromises are found quickly, a chaotic regime where no compromise is ever settled on, and a phase transition where compromises are achieved, but not quickly. The best compromises appear to occur at the phase transition between order and chaos. This we will see hints of an apologia for a pluralistic society as the natural design for adaptive compromise. Democracy may be far and away the best process to solve the complex problems of a complex evolving society, to find the peaks on the coevolutionary landscape where, on average, all have a chance to prosper.” –Stuart Kaufman, At Home in the Universe

Facilitating a group for the express purpose of releasing the genius resident there is a gift to both the group and the owner of the solution.

“Joint participation produces in an audience the condition that Emile Durkheim called “collective effervescence,” or the sense that one belongs to a group with a concrete, real existence. This feeling, Durkheim believed, was at the roots of religious experience.” -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow