Multiplying the Effective Intelligence of Your Organization: Step One

Christine StaubLeadership

“To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wildflower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” - William Blake

The First Step Towards Effective Intelligence

By Robert (Dusty) Staub, Best Selling Author of The 7 Acts of Courage and The Heart of leadership

Effective Intelligence, as shared in the first article in this series, is a phrase I have coined to capture what you are getting from the team of people around you in terms of ideas, innovation, problem solving and effective use of resources.  Yet, my experience in creating high performance teams and organizations is that there is far more intelligence available to you if you simply address the eight (8) steps outlined in my earlier article about “multiplying the effective intelligence” of your team and organization.

Let me ask once more, “Are you getting the best use, the fullest use of the effective intelligence of those around you? Are you getting the best results from the people–the embedded collective intelligence–in your organization? Do you feel that there is another level just our of reach for increased performance and innovation?”

After all, neuroscientists have revealed that it is not the absolute number of neurons that determines intelligence; it is the number of dendritic connections between neurons that yields overall processing power and effective intelligence.  The greater the number of connections means the higher the level of collaborative networking, which equals greater intellectual capacity to problem-solve, innovate and create solutions.

I will be expanding on the eight (8) steps to increasing the effective intelligence (E.I.) of your self, team and organization in the coming blog posts.  This article’s focus is on the first step to “Increasing the Effective Intelligence (E.I.) of Your Team and Organization”Expanding Perspectives.


Step One: Expanding Perspectives

If you want to multiply E.I. then you have to be able to break the old “mind-set” and past pattern of thinking, the cognitions, of yourself, team and organizational work culture. This means seeing beyond the obvious and challenging conventional thinking. After all, it is the status quo and old ways of thinking that is the enemy of higher order processing, innovation and increased performance.

So, how do you help to expand perspective?  This is a short primer on some key actions you can take to break free to a higher order of thinking due to being able to perceive and think about new and larger frames of reference.  In psychology it is called re-contextualizing or reframing reality to bring in a way of thinking and perceiving that is liberating and opens you to new possibilities and solutions.

There are many methods and tools for expanding perspective.  Here are four that have proven their power and utility over time with many clients:

1. Using Active Imagination.

William Blake labeled this vast creative force “divine imagination.” It was Albert Einstein who famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  What you know is a circle of competency, but at the same time, also a circular set of limitations.  It is only when you have the courage to step beyond what is known, to tolerate ambiguity and cross over into new mental terrain, that you can begin to see what you have been missing and envision new possibilities.  Take the time to play with ideas and do some active exploring, seeking out pathways of thinking that are new.

Some powerful prompts to help you and your people with this would be: “I wonder if we could…” “What if…”  “What would be a radically different way to think about our business?” “What if we took a blank sheet of paper and were able to create our business new, what would we do differently, how would it look?”

Using these and similar prompts begins to get the flashes of insight from active imagination flaring up.  Are you willing to play with ideas and to step beyond the bounds of what you know, your current expertise, to see a larger framework of possibilities?

2. Rich Internal Dialogue.

The Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli founded a movement known as Psychosynthesis. His key insights parallel the work of the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, namely, you have many different aspects or personas within your conscious and unconscious mind.  In other words, there is an incredible richness, a diversity of ways of thinking and perceiving and being within that you seldom tap.

The practice here would be to pause at least several times during your week and to ask, “What would a different part of me, a different aspect of consciousness have to say about this?  What way of looking at it might I be missing?”  Another way to approach this is to ask what someone you respect greatly yet who has a very different way of thinking would have to say.

For example, “What would my (Grandmother / Mentor / Buddha / Einstein) have to say if she/he were here?” It is very liberating and increases your perspective to know that within your own mind there are a multitude of different ways of thinking and understanding available.  Will you be open to this rich internal dialogue and let it expand your understanding and ways of thinking?

The inside of a clock

3. Rich External Dialogue.

“None of us is as smart as all of us”, is a great saying. Inviting dialogue, discussion and rich intellectual debate is a powerful way of expanding perspective not only for your self but for the team and organization also.  Lawrence Bossidy, when CEO of Allied Signal, invited people from all over the organization to engage in examining how the organization was functioning and to challenge senior leadership with ideas, insights, perspectives and suggestions.

Another way to make use of this external dialogue is to seek out people outside your industry and business to see how they view the work environment and your organization.  Yet another is inviting the naïve perspective by having someone who is not steeped in your way of working to ask questions about what you are doing and why.  To do this well means accessing the courage to be confronted as well as the courage to learn and grow as essential parts of making the best use of Rich External Dialogue. How open are you to honest, vigorous intellectual debate in your team and organization?

4. Adopting an Innovative Methodology for Thinking.

There are many frameworks to choose from: The 6 Thinking Hats, Mind-mapping, Verbal Aikido, Improvisational Comedy Processes, etc. You may, ultimately, want to make use of all of them as you develop your capacity to engage in more innovative ways of thinking.

Staub Leadership International makes use of all of these and more in our Bottom Line Innovation Process.  A quick and easy format you can adopt as you begin the process of developing this capacity is based on the work of Roger von Oech, a creativity guru to Silicon Valley.  He outlines a four (4 stage) process: Explorer-Artist-Judge-Warrior.

In other words, you convene a team of people and for a set period of time focus on one stage and stay there for a specific period of time before moving into the next one.  You start with the Explorer Stage and this is where any and all ideas are “good” ideas. You invite as many different perspectives, suggestions, ideas and possibilities as possible within a set time period to be shared and quickly captured. Then you move to the Artist Stage where you and the people present, for a specific period of time, “play” with the ideas and concepts and see if you can create new linkages, insights and even more possibilities.

This could lead you to then go back to the explorer stage and do more work before then looping back to the artist stage or moving into the Judge (evaluative) Stage and finally the Warrior Stage where you lay out action plans and commitments. Are you willing to discipline your mind and your teams around an organized structure or framework for generating new perspectives, ideas and innovative insights?

The only barrier to your increasing the effective intelligence for yourself, a team and / or organization is limiting your perspective.

Do you have the courage to step up and out, to expand your way of understanding, perceiving and approaching your work and life? 

Staub Leadership has been helping organizations to multiply their effective intelligence by liberating the purpose, passion and power of individuals and teams for the last three decades.