Summary of Group Smarts

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Aristotle could have been talking about teams when he said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Science writer Jane C. Hu showcases some of the unique ways companies use groups of trained amateurs to answer questions. These teams often outperform experts in their fields. When she moves on to how to make project teams more productive, some of the answers seem obvious – too many big egos are bad, while social skills are good – but how many companies get it wrong? getAbstract recommends this article to managers and team members alike.

About the Author

Seattle science writer Jane C. Hu has written for Slate, The Atlantic, Nautilus and Science, among others. She works at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.



Teamwork is part of most people’s working life. As Sir Francis Galton noted at the 1906 West of England Fat Stock and Poultry Exhibition, a group is wiser than the individuals that constitute it. When 787 contest entrants guessed an ox’s weight, none got it right, but the average of their guesses was within a pound of its actual weight.

In the United States, the Good Judgment Project trains volunteers to spot national security risks and world events – such as wars and terrorist attacks. Despite having little or no expertise, they are around 30% better than security...

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