Group-thinking is not smarter

Researchers debunk the idea that diversity makes groups more intelligent or more effective:

What allows groups to behave intelligently? One suggestion is that groups exhibit a collective intelligence accounted for by number of women in the group, turn-taking and emotional empathizing, with group-IQ being only weakly-linked to individual IQ (Woolley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi, & Malone, 2010). Here we report tests of this model across three studies with 312 people. Contrary to prediction, individual IQ accounted for around 80% of group-IQ differences. Hypotheses that group-IQ increases with number of women in the group and with turn-taking were not supported. Reading the mind in the eyes (RME) performance was associated with individual IQ, and, in one study, with group-IQ factor scores. However, a well-fitting structural model combining data from studies 2 and 3 indicated that RME exerted no influence on the group-IQ latent factor (instead having a modest impact on a single group test). The experiments instead showed that higher individual IQ enhances group performance such that individual IQ determined 100% of latent group-IQ. Implications for future work on group-based achievement are examined.

This falls into the category of science confirming common sense. Women and gamma males, both of whom tend to be obsessed with rules and process, almost invariably get in the way of the smart individuals who drive accomplishment. Sounding boards are useful, but they are vastly overrated, particularly by the kind of people who are incapable of fulfilling a proactive role themselves.

Anyone can critique an idea or offer a nonsensical spin on it. In most cases, it is not “helping” to do so, but distracting, if not demoralizing. That is one reason why I crack down hard on those whose immediate reaction to any announcement is to try to come up with an alternative or an improvement.

My rule of thumb is this: if someone doesn’t explicitly ask me what I think about something, I try to avoid telling them what I think about it. “Congratulations” or “I hope it goes well” is by far the most useful thing you can tell anyone who tells you about a new idea or a new product.