Skills and a Collective Intelligence

Thursday, 02 May 2019   1789 Views

Recently spoke to education innovators about the learning labels technology. They immediately recognized the value in tracking and measuring the development of soft skills (team building skills). I also suggested to them the value in doing the same with thinking skills. All skills and their underlying methods and applications (with education or training standards) appear on the learning labels.

This got me thinking of the importance of soft and thinking skills in the future. Years ago, I wrote an article about improving a ‘collective intelligence’. This is a definition I used:


The biggest gains in ‘collective intelligence’ comes from groups working together and using technologies to solve problems. In the article Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups there are two conclusions. First, it is possible to measure and sometimes predict a group’s collective intelligence. Second, it is strongly correlated with “the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and proportions of females in the group” – not strongly correlated with the individual intelligence of its members. To the ballyhoo of those trying to improve team dynamics, motivation and cohesion are also not good predictors. Learning labels, a system to manage and track the development of skills are useful for each of these conclusions.

First, looking at completed tasks (represented as learning labels) for each person in a team is helpful in predicting a person’s emotional and rational intelligence. As said earlier, learning labels capture soft and thinking skills.

Second, ‘social sensitivity’ and ‘conversation conduct’ are methods within the context of soft skills. It is possible to get them on learning labels. Therefore, it is also possible to track how team members have applied them in experiences.

Finally, I think thinking skills are the principal skills for controlling and using intelligent systems. Critical and analytical thinking skills are necessary to keep control of the systems (maintain the human element). Novel and computational thinking skills allow for new contributions to increasingly complex systems. The other thinking skills, convergent, divergent, rational are useful too.

Last year, the World Economic Forum released their 2018 Future of Jobs report, which supports speaking in skills as we prepare our future workforce. There is significant commentary about how fundamental changes in technology is impacting the skills of the current and future workforce. Companies will have to decide whether to ‘prioritize automation’ or ‘augmentation’ and whether to ‘invest in workforce reskilling’. A conclusion of the report:

The success of any workforce augmentation strategy is the buy-in of a motivated and agile workforce, equipped with futureproof skills to take advantage of new opportunities through continuous retraining and upskilling.