March 22, 2022

10 min


What is collective intelligence ?

My first experience of collective intelligence started like a game: the whole Doriane team encircling a deck of Dixit cards, and Marie-Paule ¹ asking each of us to pick one and explain why it represents our “morning mood”.

Waste of time you think? Forget it: Everyone at the same level giving its opinion was the first step of the settlement of a “confidence environment”. Putting people on the same page to help them think together is one of the cornerstones of collective intelligence.

Already used in crowd-sourcing, citizen science and prediction markets, it makes its way to research departments, enhancing creativity and motivation 💪 💡

Collective intelligence trainer with 10 years experience in a biotech lab, Marie-Paule knows what she’s talking about.

Today she reveals 7 tips to set up a climate of confidence that boosts innovation within a research team 😊


Doriane experts advise R&D departments on IT system optimization.
We install and maintain RnDExperience® software for data and process management, especially designed for seed, crop and food research and development.

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Sketchnote: What is collective intelligence in R&D innovation ?
Sketchnote: The three steps to collective intelligence

Tip N°1 For Collective Intelligence: Secure the Environment

Innovation comes from the confrontation between humans’ opinions.

Setting up a climate of confidence, respect and active listening is a keystone of collective intelligence. Marie-Paule calls it a “secure environment”, which lies on 3 pillars:

- Establish conditions for freedom of speech, with a time and place dedicated to exchanges and sharing, and ensure the use of a common language, in order to better understand each other.

- Share an internal policy of the right to make mistakes: Experimentation is the basis of innovation, and promoting risk-taking in a company provides a springboard for new ideas.

- Create a climate of trust, listening, non-judgment and respect for different points of view. The various members of the group do not need to agree, especially not, because innovation is born from the confrontation between opinions and the reflection that can be created by having gone to see through the reality of the other.

👩💻🧬 Researchers also appreciate to secure and valorize agronomy information in Bloomeo, sharing data with each other according to their users' rights.

Tip N°2 For Collective Intelligence: Improve communication and speak the same language

One of the bases of communication is to speak the same language. We can understand each other, without necessarily thinking alike, only if we talk about the samething.

Collective intelligence helps focus on facts and reliable information, thus it lays strong foundations for useful information-sharing and the group gets more intelligent.

“Non-violent communication allows you to learn communication from what is alive in oneself and to become aware ofyour own judgments and your own needs so as not to fall into criticism, resentment or aggressiveness.” Marshall Rosenberg ²

👨💻🧬 Speak the same language across your R&D department with unified methods described in the database.

 Tip N°3 For Collective Intelligence: Free the minds

🧘 Empty your lungs, then inhale and raise the arms…

Letting go empowers teams to open up their curiosity, and listen to their intuitions.

Respecting points of view and listening allows the development of emotional intelligence, and thus a greater connection to intuition, which is of paramount importance in creativity and innovation.

👩🌱🧬 Plant breeders save time and mental load by getting rid of datasheets processing to focus on decision-making.

Tip N°4 For Collective Intelligence: Cross-fertilize ideas

When experts rub shoulders with neophytes, plant breeders with technicians, realities and beliefs get challenged, and everyone has much to gain from this exchange that includes diversity.

Cross-fertilization enables the emergence of creativity, in a limited time.

“Work on the paradoxes of innovation, determine where to place the cursor between spontaneous order and organization, chance and necessity, divergence andconvergence, individual and collective, disorder and method.” C. Blandin ³

👨🌱🧬 Sharing advancement and results with standard reports helps cross-fertilize syntesis in team meetings and take efficient decisions.

Tip N°5 For Collective Intelligence: Prefer co-building and be open to what emerges

“Co-construction and co-decision allow ownership and adherence to the ideas and decisions that are made in this framework, creating commitment and motivation.” G. Chapelle ⁴

With collective intelligence, you don’t know what the result will be, the manager has to be open to what happens and accept the idea that another solution is possible, maybe different from what he imagined.

💻🤸✨ The research IT system needs to evolve along with the mutation of researchers' needs. Software configuration with agility enables to stay open to new demands. Learn more: What makes research software user-friendly ?

Tip N°6 For Collective Intelligence: Promote Inter-activity cooperation

Integrate cooperation items in the objectives of everyone in the various activities, by offering voluntary participation in cross-functional projects and by facilitating communication between departments.

“Laboratory processes have also been totally integrated to the research IT system, without disturbing the routine of breeders. This crucial activity has greatly benefited from RnDExp®, notably for molecular markers analysis that must be done as fast and accurately as possible. We’ve saved time with this optimization and the risk of errors has been reduced. The whole team is happy about it !” Gautier Semences seed company Biotech Manager

🌱🏓🧪 R&D departments with a central system enables plant breeders to share research work and data with other activities: biotech lab, testing, product dev...

Tip N°7 For Collective Intelligence: Use collaborative tools

Share resources (seed stocks, land use, plannings) enhances collaboration and makes researchers more efficient in innovation.

Collaborative tools allow the pooling of data, the formalization of scale, calculation methods, the implementation of validation processes and the monitoring of stages and exchanges. Collective innovation can be born from the exchange of different points of view based on the same data, the same level of information, and collaboration between departments based on a standardized exchange of information that everyone can understand, read and use.

Our client Sollio Agriculture has seen the benefits of RnDExp software to boost researchers’ collaboration:

« We have realized it especially when telework became necessary during the sanitary crisis. The process vision enables to automate and manage every step, every task of a program. And since all the data is in the same database, we always know the advancement of the tasks, and we can react very fast if necessary. For instance, if a technician is sick, or when some program requires more work for seedings. Standardized tools also facilitate training since all the teams use the same tools and the same database. »

🤝🌱🌳 Hands in hands, all researchers in the same department can work collectively thanks to their collaborative plant breeding software.

Benefits of collective intelligence to your R&D department:

- It makes your team smarter: When different minds come together, the group gets more intelligent

- Collective intelligence improves creativity and innovation: Ideas issued from close cooperation within a group of people tend to be more accurate and get better accepted.

- Collective intelligence boosts productivity: It helps taking accurate decisions, and better oriented toward business performance.

 - It improves coordination, providing new ways of teamwork.

- Collective intelligence helps reduce costs and time to market varieties

Apply collective Intelligence to R&D team management

Your R&D department consists in groups of people sharing science and technology knowledge, working together to develop innovations.

Your business depends on taking good decisions on time under several factors, and its performance is linked to the way individuals share their own ideas.

Several ways can boost social interactions and collaboration, for example technology tools such as central IT systems, namely plant breeding software. Collective intelligence also, by enhancing creativity, motivation and engagement.

To go further: Collective Intelligence combined with artificial intelligence

What if collective intelligence by humans worked in synergy with virtual intelligence from prediction models ? This new way to take important decisions has proved worthy: Professor Tom Malore from the MIT Sloan School of Management, is world-known for his applications of collective intelligence. His team has conducted surveys on football prediction markets.:

"The most accurate predictions were done by combining collective intelligence from people with artificial intelligence from computers.” ⁵

At Doriane we believe that plant R&D has much to gain in combining the power of decision-making assistance from plant breeding software with smooth digital collaboration across activities of the R&D department. Secure and valorize agronomy information in a central IT system like RnDExp® enhances collaboration and helps make the most of digital computing at the service of researchers.



1  Marie-Paule Seguin, Collective intelligence trainer

2 Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication, 2015.

3 C. Blandin et al. SURMONTER LES PARADOXES DE L’INNOVATIONCOLLECTIVE, Entreprendre & Innover, 2016/3 n° 30, pp 61-71.

4 Chapelle G. et al, L'intelligence collective : Co-créons enconscience le monde de demain, : Editions Yves Michel, 2014.

5 Professor Tom Malore, Building better organizations with collective intelligence, MITSloan Executive Education, 2015.

Romain Royer

Marketing Manager

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