Sunday, October 10, 2010

Developing Skills to Enhance Group Intelligence and Productivity

I read Terri's blog on the importance of collaboration and social sensitivity in increasing the collective intelligence of a group and wanted to share my experience with two programs that I found useful in developing the social skills necessary to work effectively in group settings.

The first is Dee McCrorey's Collaborative Risktaking™ workshop which was held at the recent concluded Grace Hopper 2010 conference (check out this amazing video on women risktakers through the ages!). This session is designed to provide guidance on how to build an effective group, how to harness the collective intelligence of that group and thereby innovate and create value in today's changing business world .

The move towards knowledge-based jobs and globalization make innovation a key differentiator for firms. Firms which are able to develop and manage their innovation processes are more likely to succeed and sustain their success. However, innovation requires change and can be risky and so it becomes very important to understand how to mitigate the risk.

Dee's workshop focuses on teaching participants on how to build their "innovation tribe", a diverse group of people that can collectively make the best decisions in the face of uncertainty. In order to do this, Dee works to help people identify their personal risk taking style, to learn to recognize the styles of others, and shows them how to move towards Responsible Risktaking™ as a group. By being cognizant of the different roles needed in a group, leaders can effectively build an innovation tribe that is varied in its talent and expertise.

Not only does this apply in business settings, but these skills are also great to develop in your personal life - to recognize when you are falling into a rut and need to take that next risk/challenge. It also gives you tools to be able to build a support system and network around you that can offer their mentorship, experience and knowledge to you (and vice versa) when the need arises.

The second piece of the puzzle is the ability to foster better communication among the group you have assembled. In this, the skills taught by the Crucial Conversations program can be invaluable. Crucial Conversations provides techniques for making it "safe" for everyone to contribute, improve your listening skills and increasing the productivity and quality of interactions.

I feel that in the technology industry, we can take a step to differentiate ourselves by developing our social sensitivity and collaboration skills. The above two programs have helped me in this regard and I hope you benefit from them too.

Please do share your thoughts and any resources you have used for developing these oft ignored "soft" skills.

Information about Dee McCrorey and links to her blogs can be found on her website. Notes on her session at GHC 2010 can be found here (this was the largest workshop on collaborative risktaking ever!).

Advice on conversational strategies can be found on the Crucial Conversations blog and via their newsletter.