When 1 + 1 is less than 2…

This insight comes from researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, who have proved that we are less intelligent in groups than on our own. When we are with others who we think are cleverer than us, we respond by becoming even more stupid than we are normally.

The researchers got 70 students together and tested their IQs (all of which were quite high, as it happens) in normal fashion. Then they put them in small groups and gave them another test, telling them between each question how they were faring relative to others in the group. They found that all the students’ scores were lower in the group test than in the individual one, but the IQs of the poorer performers were sharply lower. Those whose IQs fell the most were mainly – surprise, surprise – female.”  Financial Times

It appears that Group Think is just one of the traps that meetings can fall into, being together can actually make you less intelligent!  Unless you make the meeting more than just a talking shop.  It is important to structure them in such a way that you are able to engage everyone and draw on their abilities and experiences.  That is why properly planning and preparing for an important meeting is crucial to its success.  You need to be clear why you are meeting and what you want out of it.  Who needs to be there and how best to structure it in order to get the results you require.  This is just one reason for engaging an independent and expert facilitator. 

In certain cultures it is deemed vital that consensus be reached and meetings tend to be the way this is arrived at but people can easily agree to the wrong thing if the right questions aren’t asked, everyone isn’t listened to.  We have all been in meetings where someone’s point is lost because the chairman is either not focused on them or does not respect them.  It is often this small dissenting voice that is the key to the solution.  Effective meetings are so much more than just turning up and sitting through the agenda…


  1. Business Meetings

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2 Responses to “When 1 + 1 is less than 2…”

  1. Tim Hawkins says:

    Hi Richard, been a while since I read your blog, shame on me for that as I’m the one missing out. Your observations are very insightful as always & I will come back much more regularly now.

  2. Tim, lovely to hear from you and I’d love to catch up. I’m glad you found the blog interesting.

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