Thanks to Tree Breesen for flagging this important story:
As facilitators, our job is often to assist teams of people to work together to address complex issues and to solve problems. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that collaborative groups with equal participation among all of the group members (rather than having a few subject matter experts dominating), resulted in a higher collective level of group intelligence. To produce better results, they concluded, a group needed to consider multiple perspectives; the individual intelligence of group members was unrelated to the outcome.
Implications for Facilitation: When designing meetings/work sessions, ensure that targeted session norms stress equal participation. Adopt facilitation methods and processes that enable every participant to contribute their unique perspective.
Another surprising finding was that the more females, the higher the group intelligence! They attributed this not so much to gender, as to a quality of social sensitivity that women on average have more of than men.
Implication for Facilitation: As possible, help clients to bring together diverse teams representative of multiple perspectives, including gender. If that is not possible, design processes that will ensure the issue / problem is considered from a diversity of perspectives (e.g., assign different ‘hats’ to different people or tables; then look for a balanced and integrated solution).