Peer Sharing Process

Peer sharing process – using a “wagon wheel”

by Dale Hunter July 2018


Here is a description of one of the facilitation processes used at a Saturday morning (4 hour) session for a community gathering as part of a longer Friday night to Sunday afternoon winter / Matariki gathering.

The purpose of the morning: to grow and deepen our community/neighbourhood.

Participants: 50 people, all ages. A supervised painting/ craft table was set up for children and those who chose not to take part in large group activity.

The morning was in four parts.

  1. Whakawhanaunga / Welcome and introductions (in Te Reo Maori and English) (45 mins)
    Break                                   (15 mins)
  2. Peer Sharing Process.    (60 mins)
    Break                                   (20 mins)
  3. Whole circle sharing.       (1 – ½ hours)
  4. Completion                         (5-10 mins).

Here is the process used for the Peer Sharing Process. 

A double circle of chairs was set up, with the chairs in inner circle facing outwards and the chairs in outer circle facing inwards. (Sometimes this layout is described as a wagon wheel). Participants were invited to take a seat in the double circle and form a pair.

Instructions were given:

Questions / topics will be suggested. (Can be changed by participants if they want).

Participants to choose an A and a B. Person A speaks for 3 mins while B listens. Swap roles when indicated by bell. (Time was kept using a pair of small tingsha cymbal bells). This process involves listening and sharing and is ‘not a conversation’. Powerful listening is encouraged. The outer circle participant in each pair moves one seat to the left after each paired sharing.

There were 8 questions for pairs to address. There were short (3 mins) movement/ stretch breaks as needed including music. After the breaks people were encouraged to change / swap chairs.


Topics or questions need to be designed for the occasion. The one’s I used for this occasion (mid-winter /Matariki in New Zealand / Aotearoa)  were:

  1. How am I today? What I need to say to be present is…
  2. Matariki is about remembering and acknowledging those who have passed on (died). Are there people you would like to acknowledge?
  3. Matariki is also about leaving one year behind and moving into the new year. What would you like to acknowledge and let go of?
  4. To understand me more I would like to share ……
  5. In my life, I am inspired by ….
  6. What this community means or provides for me ….
  7. This next year I will contribute / share with the community …….
  8. This year I will contribute /share with the wider community / place ………

Reasons influencing the design of this process.

  1. The purpose of the morning was to deepen and grow the community / neighbourhood.
  2. Session 1 provided depth and growth through bi-cultural sharing.
  3. Session 3 provided depth through sharing in large circle.
  4. Session 2 needed to provide a high level of participation through actively involving each person in the community.
  5. Note: A painting and craft table was provided for anyone who preferred a less verbal activity.

The first session (Welcome) included singing, welcoming and some people (6) new to the community sharing their pepeha (ancestry). The 3rd session was a full group circle with spontaneous sharing by those who felt moved and confident to do so.

Given the number of people involved (50), and the time envisaged (about 1 – 1 ½) it was anticipated that about 10 -15 people would share in the whole group. This meant that about 30 people would not share in this session.

In contrast, the double circle sharing provided each person the opportunity to share 8 times.

Feedback from Participants

Feedback included many comments about feeling more involved, getting to know people better, and deepening.

My notes as Facilitator:

My attention was on the questions that I developed for the group. I felt into the group consciousness over several preceding weeks, especially in the last week. Based on my reading of the group consciousness (my felt experience), I honed the questions so that they took each person through the process associated with  matariki – death, acknowledgment and letting going – and moving forward into and claiming the new.

The questions were worked on during this time and I changed one of the questions during the process itself on the basis of the feeling I had for the group. The questions were the “brew” – the ingredients of the recipe.

The sharing/ listening process helped to move the group consciousness into a heartful and more open (less defensive) place. This was the sense I had of the possibility of the purpose “to grow and deepen our community/neighbourhood”.

The purpose “to grow” and “deepen” was an opening to be a group “gardener”.

I also observed a more relaxed and open atmosphere over the next weeks.

The group comments and feedback for this session were all very positive.

by Dale Hunter

The Future Beckons

Over New Year, I read a new book by Muhammad Yumus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, inventor of microcredit, and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.  This book, “A World of Three Zeros: The new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero carbon emissions”, started me on a learning journey, that led to “Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future”, by Paul Mason, and to several of Mason’s Youtube videos. I also watched several videos featuring the wonderfully articulate Jeremy Rifkin, academic and adviser to the European Union and Angela Merkel.  Rifkin’s latest book is the “The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.” Other discoveries included “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth and “Talking to My Daughter about the Economy: A brief history of capitalism” by Yanis Varoufakis.

Pile of Books
Pile of Books

The key messages from these sources include:


Renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, can be harnessed everywhere and cost very little or nothing once they are set up (zero marginal cost). Conversion to renewables is happening fast.

Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of its Atmosphere and Energy program, says that producing all new energy with wind powersolar power, and hydropower by 2030 is feasible, and that existing energy supply arrangements could be replaced by 2050. Barriers to implementing the renewable energy plan are seen to be “primarily social and political, not technological or economic”.

Climate change

Access to food and water are crucial issues for ensuring a sustainable future. They are part of the climate change conversation. And the environment has limits which we must observe.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.  The growing connectivity of everything includes interconnected buildings, machines, appliances, roads, transport and individuals (Wikipedia).

Beyond capitalism

Bruce Mason writes: “It is absurd that we are capable of witnessing a 40,000-year-old system of gender oppression begin to dissolve before our eyes and yet still seeing the abolition of a 200-year-old economic system as an unrealistic utopia. We lie at a moment of possibility: of a controlled transition beyond the free market, beyond carbon, beyond compulsory work.” (Postcapitalism p.290)

Sharing society

Young people (millennials, 00’s) want access rather than ownership. See airbnbs, uber, Utunes. The access economy is a business model where goods and services are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership: it refers to renting things temporarily rather than selling them permanently” (Wikipedia).


Our third book, “Co-operacy a new way of being at work” (Hunter et al.) was published in 1997. At that time, we saw the need for enhanced relationship skills: a “whole person” self, peer partnerships, co-operative organisations, networks, and societies. We also saw the possibility “of a co-operative world in which technology serves the greater good of all and supports the transformation of human consciousness. Out of this could come a major shift in human consciousness towards living co-operatively, as one diverse global community in a compassionate and environmentally sustainable society.”

“A name we like for this is the “Relationship Age” … which transcends the capitalism and communism of the “Material Age”. The Material Age assumes the universe is an immense number of separate, self-interested parts competing against each other for limited resources. “The Relationship Age assumes the universe is an immense number of connected parts, each of which co-operates with all the others” (Co-operacy p.11).

For context, regarding this quote from Co-operacy, consider that Wikipedia was founded 4 years after this book was published. Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, was founded January 15, 2001 and is edited by thousands of volunteers from around the world. It is an extraordinary example of global co-operation and the 5th most used website according to Alexa Lists. The first four most used websites (as at February 8th 2018)  are Facebook (2004), Google (1998), Youtube (2005), Twitter (2006). And as for the World Wide Web itself, this came about in 1990, invented by computer scientist Tim Berners Lee.

So, all that we know and use every day in the co-operative world of the internet has emerged during the last 27 years. Could any one of us have imagined this?

The Future is Beckoning.

The time has come for a major rethink within Zenergy. We need to fully integrate new and emerging technology into our facilitation work and also further study future trends, so that we (all of us) can fulfil our vision of “whole people co-operating in a sustainable world”.

We have a Zenergy Leaders meeting coming up in May 2018. If you have comments to contribute to this conversation please scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” field below and make a comment.

Thank you for reading this far and a special thank you to those who leave comments,

Dale Hunter

Listening for Collective Intelligence


Recently I attended the Australasian Facilitators Network Conference held at Stanwell Tops, New South Wales, Australia (October 15-18). The conference focus was on improving our facilitation skills through strengthening intercultural processes.

The title of the Conference was “Marelin, Yarning all ways”

I gave a short (1 ½ hour) workshop called: Listening for collective intelligence.

For the first part of the workshop I shared about how I came to an understanding of collective intelligence in groups.

This personal journey included noticing collective intelligence at work in groups through the lens of music making, and also through being involved in groups in which the languages used were unfamiliar.

Photo by Jacinta Cubis

Music making

I grew up in a musical family, and at the age of nine I was given a clarinet and a clarinet lessons. This led on to a musical journey which became a career as a clarinetist in the Auckland orchestra (then called the Symphonia of Auckland). This orchestral career continued until I was 34.

The musical training that prepared me for this career included university study (clarinet, musical history, harmony and aural training) and lots of orchestral experience in orchestras (Avondale College Orchestra, the Auckland Junior Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand National Youth Orchestra. I also had excellent clarinet teachers (Ken Wilson, George Hopkins and Murray Musson) and many opportunities to take part in chamber music groups.

Looking back from the perspective of further life experience in fields outside of music, I realized that one of the things I learnt as an orchestral musician, was how to be a holistic listener. Listening is the key skill set to being able to contribute to and blend with others as an ensemble player.

One listens for many different things including: being in tune with other instruments, synchronizing volume, intensity, phrasing, noticing the movement of key themes and harmonies to bring them forward as needed or indicated by the conductor, listening to support musically fellow musicians that may need this in the moment, listening for the unexpected and the expected.

An effective musician is also actively listening to the structure and form of the whole musical work as it unfolds including the shape, flow and sense of the music,

(A jazz musician listens in many similar ways to the orchestral musician with some extra freedoms to improvise within the overall patterns and agreed structure).

These listening skills became part of my normal day to day activity, like a fish swimming in water. I did not know I had these highly-honed skills: I was unconsciously competent.

Community development:

At the age of 35 I switched to a new career, that of community development worker, focusing on the arts. This career began with attending many community meetings, often held in Pacific languages I did not know, such as Maori, Samoan, Cook Island, Tongan and sometimes a mixture of these together with English. My orchestral listening skills automatically came into play as I listened to make sense of these meetings. I listened for structure, patterns, flow, pitch, intensity, and strove to understand what was happening and how I could be of assistance in forwarding the projects and issues that were being discussed.

I kept listening for the next 12 years and gradually was also able to contribute by adding my voice to the deliberations. I also gravitated towards the role of the group facilitator, and seemed to have some affinity for this role of process guide.

Reflecting back now after a further career as a professional group facilitator and trainer of group facilitators, I can appreciate that applying my listening skills to group meetings was a natural outreach of my music listening skills. The meetings of people had become the orchestra and chamber music groups of my first career.

Collective intelligence:

The way I listened in group meetings was at first quite unconscious. I discovered, on reflection, that I was listening for the “natural” flow of a meeting, the beginning (introduction and themes outlined), the development of the themes (discussions, different ideas, disagreement, ebb and flow of intensity, strong feelings, dissonance and key changes), the emerging of resolution, (tentative suggestions, start and stop of agreement, desire to get to resolution, frustration, more agreement (or not) and ending, often including prayer or other ritual.

This listening for the process and content of a meeting, I now think of as noticing the unfolding of collective intelligence: the natural desire of humans to think, verbalize, express themselves, problem solve and work things out together. This is totally normal and natural.

Then there are the times that things are not worked out, that frustration occurs, tempers flare, upset occurs and people go away disappointed or angry. (At an extreme, collective intelligence also contains its opposite – that of collective stupidity in the same way that music can collapse into chaos and confusion. This is why an orchestral conductor is usually necessary).

A group facilitators job is a little like that of an orchestral conductor. A facilitator guides a group towards a constructive outcome so that the people involved feel that the issue or project is moving forward in a productive way, even if not every meeting is entirely harmonious. Collective intelligence is a natural part of an organized group of doing things together.

Focusing on the whole:

Listening for collective intelligence is easier if we are able to distinguish the individual personas of the people in a group from the collective workings of a group. It is helpful for the facilitator to focus more on the collective (whole group).


For example,

  • Rather than – person A disagreeing with person B (individual personas), the facilitator will be noticing that there were differing opinions expressed, A and B as part of the whole group.
  • Rather than – person A was not listening to person B and they were arguing, the facilitator will be noticing that the group expressed differing views (A and B).
  • Rather than – person B was “being unpleasant and argumentative” and person A was also “being disagreeable” the facilitator will be noticing that factions were forming around differing perspectives.

Listening for the collective does require some considerable skill. This can be learnt, for example, in facilitator training.

I can get into a lot more detail around listening for and unpicking the language of collective intelligence and have just discovered a new word, holopticism, which relates to this. However, I would firstly like to get some feedback from readers, particularly other facilitators, as to how you picked up the skills of listening for the whole group process (or what I call collective intelligence).

A couple of references:

Here is a definition of the word holopticism.

Towards an indigenous-informed facilitation practice .pdf
A newly developed resource generated by indigenous facilitators  who are part of the Australasian Facilitators Network.

Here is a short interview with Anita Wooley who is a leader in Collective Intelligence research and her work is worth exploring in depth.


Here is a link to the website of renowned Otto Scharmer (Theory U) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The photo set as the featured image on this page is by Jacinta Cubis

Are you the RIGHT facilitator for this group?


An interesting new completion and celebration process emerges during a ‘wrap’ session for a hard working team. There were ten people in the group with one additional member who ‘skyped in’ for one hour during the day.

I had chosen ‘self and peer assessment’ as the heart of our schedule with warm-ups and energisers as required. To foster a sense of retrospection for the completion of a massive project we started with the processes of paintings and a walking meditation to choose an item from nature to describe our present feelings/space.

Every one was tired. Most people chose rocks, flowers, stones and pinecones.

One person produced a concrete brick, let it thud onto the floor and then collapsed in a heap and said she had no energy.

Obviously the group was ‘not up for’ a rigorous ‘self and peer assessment’ process.

My preparation had included reflecting on a list of the reasons why someone might NOT be the right facilitator for a group. This list included: ‘Do I have the RIGHT process for this group?’ and ‘ Do I know what is BEST for this group’. Answering yes to either of these questions would suggest that I was NOT the right person to be in the facilitator role!!!

The plan had to change. I shared my thoughts and asked the group for suggestions.

We decided to proceed with the self and peer process but only with the affirmative part of it, omitting the ‘what could be done differently’ stage. We created a ‘nest’ in the middle of the room, a large 2metre circular cushion, surrounded by candles. The group members took turns to lie on it and receive massages, songs and affirmations.. Each member had about 15 mins on the cushion.

The group luxuriated in each others affirmations, acknowledgements and healing attention. What manifested was a tailor-made completion, individual and group celebration in one process. Everyone had more energy at the end of the session than they did at the beginning of the day and felt grounded and complete.

Our training at Zenergy is to trust the resources of the group. This brilliant group found a way to complete and celebrate their work together while honouring the energy that was present. It may be necessary at a future time to talk about ‘what could be different’ in the groups next venture, however at this point in time what was required was an acknowledgement of Whole Personhood at it’s Zenergy finest.

by Kāren

Resources: The Art of Facilitation revised edition.
Self and Peer assessment process is on page 27
The list I refer to in the blog is on page 67 in the section called ‘Being with a group’.

Some Forms of Collective Intelligence

Collective Intelligence is now referred to in fields as diverse as revelation and altered states; effective group, team and organisational work; and also intelligence gathering for security purposes. How to make sense of all of this? In my efforts to understand the diversity of the collective intelligence field (s) – I have been googling away – and within the confusion came across a really great blog

The following is an abridged reblog from an entry on this blog.

This particular blog piece references the work of Tom Atlee
See also for books including
“The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all”.

Tom Atlee has been working in this field of collective intelligence for a long time. I read Tao of Democracy (2002) quite a few years ago and have it in my library. When I first read this book I found Tom’s thinking very helpful in beginning to clarify and articulate what happens when groups of people with a common purpose start to think, be and flow together in a way often referred to as group synergy (when 1+1+1+ = more than 3).

In the blog above Tom Atlee says

I have lately been receiving a lot of information on forms of and approaches to collective intelligence that do not fit within models I’ve been working with for the last fifteen years (that are largely deliberative). I am no expert on these other approaches, but encountering them has led me to brainstorm an annotated list of different forms to cover what I’ve seen so far.

I feel certain my list is not complete and that there are other ways of differentiating forms of collective intelligence, which I’d love to hear about. I intend this initial listing to be temporarily clarifying and stimulating and, hopefully, to trigger people to come up with new ways to map this terrain that better lay the groundwork for an evolving general theory of collective intelligence that embraces all variations.

Note that not all collective capacities are “intelligence.” Occasionally CI overlaps with other capacities like collective consciousness or “power-with” — capacities that can be characterized by collective stupidity OR collective intelligence. Furthermore, some dimensions of collective intelligence, like “flow,” have collectively stupid manifestations (mobs) as well as collectively intelligent ones (high functioning teams). I will try to navigate these distinctions creatively here, but the reader should keep them in mind.

Note also that some phenomena that I have not included here could conceivably be included in this list. For example, are “networks” an intrinsic form of CI, or are they a pattern useful in developing CI? I have chosen the later categorization, but people more familiar with networks may be able to make a case for them as a distinct form of CI.

Some Forms of Collective Intelligence

REFLECTIVE (dialogic) CI – People think together, using dialogue and deliberation. They find and share information, critique logic and assumptions, explore implications, create solutions and mental models together. Their diversity, used well, helps them overcome blind spots, ignorance, and stuckness. They see a bigger, more complete picture with more complexity and nuance, and develop better outcomes than they could alone. Most of this can be readily explained in terms of cognitive synergies among the participants.

STRUCTURAL (systemic) CI – Social systems are built that support intelligent behaviors on the part of the system as a whole and/or all its members. For example, the Bill of Rights supports creativity, free flow of information, and maintenance of diversity — all of which support collective intelligence. Quality of Life indicators guide national economic activity more intelligently than the wholly monetized Gross Domestic Product statistic. Chairs placed in circles support equity and sharing in ways impeded by chairs placed in rows.

EVOLUTIONARY (learning-based) CI – Organisms, species, ecosystems, and cultures are made of patterns of relationship that have “worked” over long periods. These co-evolved, built-in success-patterns contain embedded wisdom often used automatically, but which are also available for analysis and deeper learning. We can look at them as manifestations of learning — or perhaps of “evolving coherence.” Evolving coherence is perhaps most consciously pursued in the careful, grounded, ongoing collective inquiries of science, but we can also find it in any shared learning effort, an endeavor institutionalized in academia. Evolving coherence is also characteristic of morphogenic fields — the living habit-fields of life which arise from our collective experience and shape our consciousness and behaviors. Any patterns evolved (understandings learned) become part of the informational CI, below.

INFORMATIONAL (communication-based) CI – The flow of information through communication channels and the widespread gathering and persistent availability of information in databases (including libraries, newspapers, etc., as well as the Web — and morphogenic fields) means that knowledge that is created or recorded in one place and time is available to others in other places and times. Universal access to information informs the activities of diverse, dispersed people beyond their individual data-gathering capacities. In society, this form of collective intelligence has been aided in the last century by telecommunications and computer technologies, as it was centuries ago by the invention of printing. To a large degree, the informational sea we live in empowers the routine collective intelligence of our society or subculture. In fact, the complexity of modern society makes most information-gathering intrinsically collective (through scientists, statistical enterprises, journalism, etc.); any given individual simply cannot find it all out. Furthermore, our culture’s informational, narrative and morphogenic fields shape our awareness and behavior without our even knowing it. The dark side of the informational mode is the sea of unproven assertions and unexamined assumptions we experience as fact that, being unexamined, may be false or go out of date and — resisting change (evolutionary CI) — become the source of collective stupidity.

NOETIC (spiritual or consciousness-based) CI – Certain realms of human experience and cosmic reality are accessible primarily through altered/higher states of consciousness or esoteric practices. Psychic phenomena, the Akashic Record, the collective unconscious, group consciousness, the Maharishi effect, the Universal Mind, the Authentic Self, etc., all involve noetic realities with collective dimensions which offer insight, guidance, energy or power to those who can tap them. All these phenomena are grounded in “consciousness,” so we need to remember that “intelligence” is the capacity to learn new things and solve challenging problems. So the term “collective intelligence” may be most appropriately applied to the noetic mode when these higher/deeper realms are accessed by a group together such that the group’s subsequent understanding and activity are demonstrably intelligent. The noetic realm tends to be anchored in subjective experience, although there is growing objective evidence for various noetic phenomena. The noetic experience of CI is one of “accessing” or “attuning to” a pre-existing higher intelligence or awareness, rather than of co-creating a new emergent capacity through group synergy (as is the case in the reflective mode).

FLOW (mutual attunement-based) CI – When the boundaries between individuals vanish, become permeable, or fade into relationship or shared enterprise, a collective can think, feel, respond and act as one entity. This “group magic” is exemplified by — and experienced in — intense dialogue groups, high-functioning human teams and non-human collectives like flocks of birds. Basic forms of flow or flocking behavior are achieved by individuals following simple rules about their relationship to those around them, setting aside independence in the realms covered by the rules. This (flow, flocking behavior) happens even when the individuals are computer-generated agents like “boids” or “cellular automata.” More complex, creative forms of flow occur when conscious, distinct individuals are so attuned to each other that they can innovate and express their uniqueness in thoroughly appropriate/embedded ways, as with jazz improvisation. Flow may also be associated with mobs, groupthink and other dysfunctional collectives in which individuality, itself, is stifled or dissolved. But for our purposes the term collective intelligence is reserved for collective cognitive capacity and behavior that is highly functional. Flow is often a dimension of that. Extreme forms of flow manifest as mind-meld and collective consciousness (the global version of which de Chardin called The Omega Point) that may or may not be collectively intelligent. But core individuality is a resource for collective intelligence, providing diversity and creative energy. So flow can be understood as dissolving the boundaries, barriers and embattledness of individualism (ego) in order to better tap the powerful essence of individuality (true uniqueness and individual capacity) in the context of collective activity.

STATISTICAL (crowd-oriented) CI – In the presence of a goal, intention, inquiry or direction — and no skewing factors (e.g., deceit) — a high enough number of individuals will generate a remarkable level of collective problem-solving or predictive power, even in the absence of communication among them. This has been demonstrated in many cases of mass guessing, where the average guessed solution has proven superior to over 90% of the individual guesses. This can also be seen in ants whose almost random foraging is capable of rapidly finding food that can then be collectively accessed in very focused ways. Computer-generated entities also demonstrate this statistical intelligence: When the first-run-through maze-paths of about two dozen intelligent agents are superimposed over each other, the plot of the majority decision at each turn of the maze will often be a direct path through the maze — one that was not followed by any single agent. This form of collective intelligence — combined (often implicitly) with structural and other forms — is what some term “market intelligence,” Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

RELEVATIONAL (emergence-based) CI – “Relevation” is a term coined by quantum physicist and dialogue innovator David Bohm. It names the dynamic through which phenomena emerge (elevate) from potentiality (Bohm’s “implicate order”) into actuality (Bohm’s “explicate order”) by reason of their relevance to existing reality. Our inquiries and intentions can attract insights and solutions, often seemingly “out of nowhere.” As a form of collective intelligence this may be most vividly displayed by one person saying something and another person mis-hearing it in a way that provides them with some answer or insight. The answer, which was never spoken, relevated out of the space between them, drawn into existence by the second person’s desire to know that answer.


I find these categories helpful and would really like to hear from you reading this what your thoughts are and how I/we can better understand this developing field.


Timothy Mansfield’s contribution

This post below came as a reply to my Collective Intelligence thread and as it’s such a great informative piece of writing I want to share it as a blog post to open up the conversation some more.


Contributed by Timothy Mansfield,
Sydney, AustraliaVideo: Thomas Malone on the Success Factors for Collective Intelligence
“If it’s not just putting a bunch of smart people in a group that makes the group smart, what is it? We looked at bunch of factors you might have thought would affect it: things like the psychological safety of the group, the personality of the group members, et cetera. Most of the things we thought might have affected it turned out not to have any significant effect. But we did find three factors that were significantly correlated with the collective intelligence of the group.The first was the average social perceptiveness of the group members. We measured social perceptiveness in this case using a test developed essentially to measure autism. It’s called the “Reading the Mind and the Eyes Test”. It works by letting people look at pictures of other people’s eyes and try to guess what emotions those people are feeling. People who are good at that work well in groups. When you have a group with a bunch of people like that, the group as a whole is more intelligent.

The second factor we found was the evenness of conversational turn taking. In other words, groups where one person dominated the conversation were, on average, less intelligent than groups where the speaking was more evenly distributed among the different group members.

Finally, and most surprisingly to us, we found that the collective intelligence of the group was significantly correlated with the percentage of women in the group. More women were correlated with a more intelligent group. Interestingly, this last result is not just a diversity result. It’s not just saying that you need groups with some men and some women. It looks like that it’s a more or less linear trend. That is, more women are better all the way up to all women. It is also important to realize that this gender effect is largely statistically mediated by the social perceptiveness effect. In other words, it was known before we did our work that women on average scored higher on this measure of social perceptiveness than men.

This is the interpretation I personally prefer: it may be that what’s needed to have an intelligent group is just to have a bunch of people in the group who are high on this social perceptiveness measure, whether those people are men or women. In any case, we think it’s an interesting finding, one that we hope to understand better and one that already has some very intriguing implications for how we create groups in many cases in the real world.”

Watch the video

Watch the video

What does Collective intelligence mean to me / you / us?


Notes from Workshop at Macquarie University, Sydney at the Australasian Facilitators Network (AFN) Conference, 5/6 December.

Purpose – To explore / inquire into accelerating collective intelligence through the use of energy and subtle capacities.

Culture  agreement – Personal stories stay in the room. Suspend judgement and disbelief. Speak from “I”.

Question / inquiry

What does Collective intelligence mean to me / you / us?

In small groups. Individual reflections written on circles:

Multiple intelligences –spiritual, emotional, music, social, visual, spatial, logical, and multiple perspectives.
My ability to be in the story in a non – judgmental and positive way to allow the collective nature of the US to exist and grow and transform.
Sharing, exploring, supporting, gathering.
What we don’t know that we know we are. Unconscious communication that which we cannot measure or see which is energy beyond our practical awareness. Unconscious decision making, universal.
Rupert Sheldrake – morphic field. A flock of birds. Carl Jung’s collective inconscious. Positive: indigenous wisdom, harmony. Negative: entangled. Connecting through vibration.
Distilling z collective intelligence requires a safe space where people can speak and be heard truthfully.
What is possible with this group? Not just positive – collective culture – for good, for ill.
“Safety”. Safe to be me. Safe to be you. Safe to be us.
Co-creation of strengths for a common good or more effective/ workable future.
Exploring the field of the group. Uncover the hidden. Use the “Feel” to access the “field”.
Practical level. Facilitate “Team”. Together, Everyone, Achieves, More. Listening, questioning.
Unconscious attraction. Aware/ unaware. Distinguish groupthink. Ancient wisdom. Collective Wisdom, Collective Folly. Bubbles – financial lemmings.
Tapping into Universal Intelligence  / Energy. Grounding, universal energy. As a facilitator we can be a lightning rod. How do I source the universal energy to keep up my energy levels as a facilitator? How to use without scaring? What is it? Crossovers.
Collective intelligence; metaphysical/ state of dreams; Unconscious attraction; unconscious becomes conscious form of expression and understanding; creating meaning of shared expression; intelligence beyond the human frame; momentum of intention.
*    Synchronicity of unconscious attraction – sharing, growing, learning and empowering. Internet, ancient libraries, pyramids, Carl Jung, Dreams, Breakthroughs, inventions. Philosophy, healing, medicine. Teaching counseling, facilitating. What is your voice? What is your intention? This leads you. Channeling your time, focus and energy. Different voices join together based on shared joint intentions

Questions / inquiry in small groups

What subtle capacities e.g., working with energy, intuition, precognition, psychic abilities, do you have? That others you know have? That you or others use in your groups / organizations? Is it safe to explore this now, in your facilitation and other work?

Courageous connectedness to “be”
Connecting to Alpha state: Emotions Feelings Situations
Stretched – New beginnings
OCEAN Organizational Constellation Effective Analysis of Networks. We all have an inner image of what is happening around us. It can be externalized. Through this we have access to see invisible dynamic.
Energetic healing. Sensing. Intuition. Knowing. Opening the heart. Accessing internal enquiry. Predictive aids, e.g. Runes, cards. Meditation. Hypnosis. Stillness / sanctuary. Higher Self / Guides.
What does it mean to me / us? Subtle energy of collective intelligence
Acceptance Awareness Al sorts Many many kinds of capacities
Finding allowing a space to develop for intelligence to arise
Openness / sensitivity How to cultivate? Kinesthetic vs. auditory vs. visual. Entertain the possibility.
Business networking!
Being “spoken” to by messengers / animals One being open to “answers” from out environment.
Fear This new illogical thing – of your own ability
“The Secret” – I will see it when I believe it!  How can you (train) yourself to develop your subtle capacities?
No judgment – “hocus pokes”

How to use the subtle skills in group context?

“Grounding” – non threatening
Metaphor, language or imagery, story

Books referred to:
Alan Briskin: Collective Wisdom: Collective Folly
Dean Radin: Entangled Minds
Dean Radin: Supernormal

Participants at the workshop were invited to contribute to this blog and keep the inquiry alive.

Collective Intelligence and Subtle Capacities

Dear friends and colleagues,

I have been thinking of starting this blog for a while. Now my daughter Karen Hunter  has been so kind to set it up I will start a conversation or two and trust that readers will add to it.

My commitment is to “whole people co-operating in a sustainable world” and I see this blog as one way of engaging others, particularly group facilitators, in conversations that can enhance the way we work with groups and organisations.

In this conversation I want to bring together two topic areas that can inform one another. These topics are collective intelligence and what I will call subtle capacities or supernormal capacities. (There is a background paper on this site introducing the topic of collective intelligence).

As a group facilitator and facilitator educator, I observe collective intelligence at work. A facilitator works with collective intelligence as a matter of course. We know that the wisdom is in the group and not only the individual. We work to tap into synergy to accelerate and grow a group’s performance. Research is now backing up the claim that collective intelligence is real and not related to the individual intelligence of group members (refer background paper and Anita Woolley

In addition, I have observed people in groups demonstrating subtle capacities of many different kinds. What I am referring to are people’s ability to sense and/or see energy and energy patterns in individuals, groups and in nature (trees, plants, birds and animals). There is also the capacity to envision, dream or imagine the future including “seeing with an inner eye”; knowing what is about to happen (precognition) or what others are thinking, even at a distance; intuitive hunches or “hits” about all kinds of things; and more. Sometimes these capacities are termed psychic or psi. Scientist Dean Radin works in this area at the Institute of Noetic Science (IONS) and his books “Entangled Minds” and “Supernormal” are very imformative

These capacities seem to be unevenly spread among individuals. Some people have none, one, a few, or many subtle capacities and as already said they come in many forms.

It seems to me that these two areas, subtle capacities and collective intelligence have a lot of promise for group facilitators especially those already working in an holistic way. I am thinking that it could be time to bring this conversation into the mainstream arena, at least among group facilitators.

If some people who have subtle capacities they are willing to share, they could potentially add to the collective intelligence of a group and enhance group outcomes. For this to happen however, facilitators will need to create safe spaces for people to share their subtle information and ensure that this new input is recognised as information (not the whole truth) to be considered alongside other conventional information and data.

At the Australasian Facilitators Network Conference (AFN) at Macquarie University 4-6 December, 2013, I am leading a workshop to discuss this topic.

I will post a summary of our discussion and also encourage those attending the workshop to contribute here on this blog as well.

Thanks for listening,