A while back the New York Times (NYT) published an article about why some teams are smarter than others. The found the smartest teams, whether interacting face to face or virtually, were distinguished by members who:

  • Communicated a lot,
  • Participated equally, and
  • Possessed good emotion-reading skills.


These findings were found by putting almost 700 people into teams to complete a series of short tasks. What interests me is that the processes that the team’s used wasn’t mentioned. The Science of Dialogic Design and the Structured Democratic Dialogue that we use at Demosophia aligns with their findings in that we require participation and ensure equal protection of each participating stakeholder and the ideas they author. My hypothesis is that while emotion-reading skills may be important in small unstructured group problem solving sessions, they are less important when effective and proven dialogue structure is applied in larger groups working on more complex problems. Perhaps that’s why, in the research on our process over the decades, emotion reading skills hasn’t been named as vital. In your experience working with groups to solve problems, do you agree with these three distinguishing characteristics?

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