Building Better Teams Through Multiple Intellects

Many in the education field have little difficulty accepting and implementing ideas from Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intellects as explained in his books, Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Intelligence Reframes: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century. The business community, however, may not be so familiar with the concept or how to apply it to the work environment.

Joel Kurtzman interviewed Gardner for Strategy+Business, an online business publication, and talked about his theory’s business application. Gardner said that understanding that we have many ways to be intelligent and using that information can help organizations build better teams, organize more efficiently, institute better training for leaders, aid in problem solving and ensure that people are paired with the right task. [i] He goes on to say that he changed how he organized his teams by incorporating people who weren’t like him – creating a more diverse unit which allows the team to take advantage of the way people with different intellects see things. This strategy can work well in any organization, including school and business.

Examine the way you organize things and take note if most of your team seems to think and perform like you do. You may overlook solutions and approaches by focusing too much of your team’s abilities in the same venue. If you approach things very logically and systematically, someone who can imagine new strategies may open doors you didn’t even know existed. Another team member who explores the environment around the problem or who can empathize with those you are trying to serve may snag different concepts and concerns that appeal to a different audience.

Each of the intellects can provide a part of the puzzle that leads your team to the best possible solution for the challenge facing you. Consider how this type of strategy can increase your business by opening new markets and making your team more efficient and balanced. It could make the difference between your business shooting for the stars or bouncing along just above the ground.

[i] Joel Kurtzman, “An Interview with Howard Gardner,” Strategy+Business, Jan. 1, 1999, 14(1). Available online from http://www.strategy-business.com/article/10279?gko=abf36