The team administered IQ tests to nearly 700 participants and then randomized them into groups of various sizes (between two and five members). Each of the 192 groups worked together on various tasks, ranging from negotiations to visual puzzles to complex problem-solving assignments. Almost all of the assignments required some element of creative thinking. When running the numbers, the researchers found that there was little correlation between the average intelligence of a team and its performance on these tasks. In addition, group cohesion, motivation, and satisfaction weren’t correlated with collective intelligence. Most of the expected predictors of team performance failed to correlate with actual collective intelligence. When they dug deeper into what explained performance, however, they discovered a few surprising predictors.
There’s an old adage that behind every great man is a great(er) woman. It turns out that the same could be said for great teams. Evidence suggests that the number of women on a given team influences that team's ability to solve complex problems. The researchers, led by Anita Williams Wooley of Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, were initially examining the concept of collective intelligence—the idea that effective groups tap into a separate intelligence that is different from merely the average of the individual intelligence of team members.