Too often there is a focus within organisations on the bottom line, which will hopefully be a healthy black instead of an alarming crimson. What can be lost in the race for a perfect P&L, however, is how a company gets there.

In a world business environment that is growing increasingly unstable, fast-paced and demanding, the bottom line needs to be about more than just a monetary focus. The consumer can have what they want, when they want it, with a constant stream of new products, apps, concepts and information that are downloadable, deliverable and easily digestible, 24/7. Just because you were the best 5 minutes ago, doesn’t guarantee that you will be in 5 minutes’ time.

Value your intelligence bank

Consider appreciating the value of an ‘Intelligence Bank’ and what it brings to your business—this is not just forward-thinking on a theoretical level, it’s a bottom line positive as well. The value exchange, the cross fertilisation of intelligence and sharing of skills on a commercial level is the new currency.

As leaders and as colleagues, the opportunity to engage on a team level brings strategic power to an organisation that isn’t possible with people working on an individual basis—in the ‘me’ space where there is no sharing of thoughts, or discussion that leads to development. Move into the ‘we’ space however—that space of collaborative team engagement, or building the intellectual currency—and the thought space opens up.

From ‘me’ to ‘we’

Companies across the world are competing to recruit brilliant individuals—and so they should. Collaborative thinking of these brilliant individuals gives the opportunity for organisations to start their own commercial currency in the form of an intelligence bank. They are able to see how the skills of one person in the team may complement those of another team member, and how, through a ‘skill swap’, both team members gain new skills, and the organisation gains in its flexibility and leadership potential.

The company ‘banks’ new leaders with better skills; the individuals bank new skills, and a greater understanding of their peers. The communication between staff is improved, and the commercial bottom line reaps the benefits. A value exchange has been created, and one that will have immense traction in the Age of Information.

For many organisations it isn’t easy to implement the concept of collective intelligence as a productive way of working and thinking. The reality is that every single person has something unique to bring to the discussion table. Collective intelligence is the ability of X number of clever people to be—and more importantly, work—smarter than the smartest individual in that group.

Collaborative thinking brings together:

  • Diversity of thought, beliefs and opinions;
  • Cross-industry/sector experience and knowledge;
  • Enough independent heads to ensure processes are not swayed by the need to toe a particular ‘company line’.

Take the example of Apple. Tim Cook and Steve Jobs both openly said in the past that it is the people and not the individual that makes Apple the company it is. But this quote from Jony Ives, Apple’s senior VP of design, who has been behind such products as the original iMac and the iPhone, sums it up best:

‘The memory of how we work will endure beyond the products of our work.'

In other words?

If Apple did not have a collaborative and collective work environment, which encouraged team thinking, then the products themselves would never exist.

We all talk about working smarter, not harder, and collective intelligence is the embodiment of this concept. More brilliant minds working together equals more bang for your organisational buck. And that can only mean a very healthy, and dark, dark, black, bottom line.