1. Change the Space. Work together to map out a better design for the workspace, then start moving the furniture. If you can't effect such an
ambitious change, reconfigure the physical look of your meetings. Skip the big table and linear lines. Put chairs in a circle and see what happens, or head outside and let nature be your meeting place.
2. Create a Picture. Skips words in favor of visuals. As you and your colleagues are trying to define a problem, draw it out on a flipchart instead of writing it down. As you're scoping out an opportunity, again, opt for pictures over words. You'll end up engaging another part of your brain, leading to greater insight once you add in the words.
3. Share More Information. Reject that old approach of hoarding information, and replace it with an inclination to make everyone aware. Are you privy to the latest round of customer-survey data? Share it with your colleagues. Are you holding the results of the recent employee satisfaction survey? Share them, please. Are you aware of a brand-new product from a big competitor? Step forward and share the news. People always make smarter decisions when they're working with fuller information.
4. Move them Out. Have employees spend a day or two working in other areas and departments, trying other jobs (or at least observing), mingling with other people, and picking up good ideas. As soon as they return, have them brief co-workers on their top five findings.
5. Mix them Up. Bring people from different work areas into the same room. Start a dialogue by posing a simple question. (Examples: Which customers do we have in common, and how can we improve our service? How can we strength communication between our areas? What are our best practices?) The conversation will be slow to start, but as momentum grows, it will be difficult to stop.
6. Get with Customers. Spend time with the people who benefit from your work, whether they're internal customers or people on the outside. By observing, asking questions, and getting input, you'll gain new ideas while getting a renewed sense of mission.
7. Pay a Visit. Arrange to tour a nearby organization that's known as a great place to work. As long as you're not a competitor, they'll be happy to open the door and share their story. When you and your colleagues return, convert the visit into a set of high-priority actions that can be implemented right away.
8. Issue a Challenge. Give a group a difficult but doable mission that can becarried out in a week. Perhaps they work in a process that's calling for an overhaul -- so their challenge is to analyze the flow and craft a set of ready-to-implement improvements. Or maybe they're attached to a decade-old service or product -- so their task is to break free and develop an update that's years ahead of its time. A well-framed challenge can produce miracles.
9. Make It Easy. Serve as a group facilitator when people get together, or arrange for an outsider to fill this role. The word facilitate means to make easy. Good facilitators do just that, using tools and techniques to help people analyze situations, unload their ideas, think through all possibilities, weigh options, and reach decisions.
10. Take Your Time. Acknowledge the fact that all of the above requires an extra investment of time. Collective intelligence is about effectiveness rather than efficiency.