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Last updated on 12/9/20

Adopt the rules: cooperation and collective intelligence

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Cooperation, necessary for teamwork, is a state of mind – and also a set of expected behaviours:

1) Share information

When properly used, collaborative tools have simplified and increased the transparency of information. When team members are responsible for the flow of communication, it can become a competition to be the first to have certain knowledge and thus prevent someone from the information as a way to feel important.

When you start a team project, do you immediately give all the relevant information or do you wait for people to ask for it – and does that cost you?

Here are some good practices:

  • I inform my manager and/or my fellow team members regularly and spontaneously.

  • I pass on anything that may be useful to someone else, to save them time, avoid possible mistakes.

  • I pass along information at the appropriate time.

  • I make sure that the information is reliable and not out of date.

  • I ensure that it is understandable (KIS: Keep it simple!).

  • I ask myself if I ought to copy someone else.

  • I ask permission before broadcasting something that was sent to me personally.

  • When I distribute to a long list, I check it so as not to miss anyone.

  • I pass on good news, to counterbalance bad news.

  • I avoid the habit of giving good news orally and bad news in writing;.

  • I don’t waste time, and pass along information when it has just come out.

  • I select the information, without truncating it or changing the context.

  • When I am away for more than 24hr, I save an automated out-of-office message telling people of my absence, my return, and where applicable, the person who is replacing me during this period.

2) Exchange advice

Consult your colleagues; ask for other people’s advice and take their answers into account. Thanks to the techniques of empathy, active listening and positive communication, you are more objective, you understand other people’s logic better and you contribute to a better quality of communication.

Take advantage of this to:

  • ask open questions: (“what do you think of it?” rather than “It’s good, isn’t it?”)

  • give and ask for mutually beneficial feedback

  • make listening a ritual by visiting sites, organizing regular consultations, taking part in quality circles

3) Make mutual commitments

The teamwork relationship involves abiding by mutual commitments, and in particular, being reliable in respect to:

  • times and deadlines

  • the quality of deliverables

You should anticipate difficulties and inform all the fellow team-members affected if you think you are not going to be able to keep to your commitments.

4) Stick together

Solidarity between fellow team workers means:

  • gradually eliminating one’s “personal gameplay”

  • showing loyalty

  • recognizing other people’s value, qualities and differences

  • investing oneself, feeling involved (while keeping the necessary little distance) ☺️

  • assuming the consequences of one’s actions

  • recognizing one’s errors

Benefits of collective intelligence

Cooperation and the attitudes arising out of it are only one first step. Nowadays, a great deal is expected of teamwork. This is what the concept of “collaborative working” suggests.

It is the idea that the work of a team is more than the sum of the work accomplished by each team member. There is an additional “gain” that is called “collective intelligence”.

This collective intelligence is then reflected in each team member, to the extent that they join the state of mind and collaborative practices.

Here are a few practices in collective intelligence:

1) Deep learning

Deep learning is distinguished from the superficial learning that comes from repetition. The learner models and implements in a collective setting. Deep learning means:

  • journaling: keeping a log book to note ideas, worries, objectives, successes, difficulties and feelings

  • working in pairs: creating a mutually supportive relationship in order to move each person’s respective project forward and receive regular feedback.

  • success groups: taking part in a success group that will support each person’s motivation by sharing energy, information, feedback, networking, etc.

2) From team building to the learning expedition

It’s a work process aimed at:

  • strengthening the cohesion of the team

  • building and sharing values and objectives

  • creating cordial links between the team members

  • getting over a period of conflict

  • creating a common culture in a context of restructuring/merger

  • integrating newcomers

The objective is to:

  • get the group to have an intense experience outside its usual frame of reference

  • discover other cultures, ways of doing things, of thinking, of life

  • shake up the usual mental patterns

  • open the team to change

  • upon return: draw up new strategies, new modes of being

3) Shadow meetings, World Café, Open Space Technology

Shadow meetings, World Café, and Open Space Technology are collective intelligence meetings.

To hold a shadow meeting, it is necessary to:

  • designate the members of the group

  • formalized a debriefing to go over the lessons learnt

To hold a World Café:

  • the participants meet in a café setting

  • have tables of 4–5 participants referred to as “Travellers”

  • discuss for a session of 20–30 minutes

  • participants move to another table twice (a total of 3 sessions)

  • each session creates a display with the key points shared by each table in search of solutions

  • the hosts set out the final synthesis and a concluding round-table

  • everyone creates a report on the experience they’ve had

In Open Space Technology:

  • the participants circulate between the workshops

  • reports are written as the exchanges take place

  • the “law of mobility”, which is both physical and mental states that: “If you’re not  contributing or learning, move on to another workshop.”


  • Cooperation is a state of mind and a set of the following expected behaviours:

    • sharing information,

    • exchanging advice,

    • making mutual commitments and

    • sticking together.

  • Collective intelligence is the idea that the work of a team is more than the sum of the work accomplished by each team member.

Collective intelligence practices are particularly fruitful when they are supported by collaborative tools… to be continued in the next chapter!

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement