Perhaps the greatest challenge we face in the modern world is the challenge of effective collaboration. In social, political, business and educational settings, working groups often fail to solve complex problems because their method of collaborative problem solving is ineffective. Decades of research in social psychology and cognitive science highlight the many limitations of group problem solving, including the tendency to focus on a limited set of ideas, select ideas based on biased ‘rules of thumb’, and failure to build trust, consensus and collective vision. We have developed a new software tool that helps groups to structure the many and varied ideas that are often generated when a group comes together to consider solutions to problems.
Our software tool allows groups to first identify important ideas and develop a model describing how ideas are related in a system. This systems thinking method is very useful in situations where a group wants to understand a complex situation and design a roadmap for action built upon consensus and a collective vision. At the same time, from a research perspective, we’re interested in how to maximize group performance in these collaborative design sessions.