I.1 An Algorithm for Happiness
Knowing what makes you happy will make you happier!
Becoming aware of what and who makes people happy or stressed will increase individual happiness and create blockbuster business performance. Research has clearly shown what creates happy employees – giving them respect, empower them to take their own decisions, and be an empathic, humble leader – but it is awfully hard to actually lead by those principles. This book lays out a proven and tested method for reaching this goal, analyzing individuals’ communication patterns and making them self-aware by mirroring their behavior back to them in a privacy-respecting way. It describes three key steps to build happiness and better performance through entanglement, first starting with how we can communicate better to create sustainable happiness, second how to measure happiness, and third how to optimize communication to increase happiness and teamwork by mirroring back the measurements to the individual. This book integrates 20 years of research from our MIT Collaborative Innovation Networks (COIN) project on leadership, creativity, team building, and positive psychology published in over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers. We take insights from hundreds of industry and research projects our team conducted on individual and organizational creativity and performance, and distill it into an artificial intelligence algorithm for building exceptional teams and organizations, improving individual happiness and organizational performance by establishing and nurturing groupflow.
Groupflow extends the flow concept coined by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to teams. Flow is the highest state of individual productivity, where an individual is fully immersed into an activity just for the joy of doing it, and not by external motivation such as money, power, or glory. Groupflow enables teams to reach their highest productive and creative state, cooperating above and beyond of what each team member is capable of. Groupflow is the most fruitful mental condition a group of people can achieve, working together to solve a seemingly impossible task. In a state of elation and positive stress, they outperform themselves and the expectations of their peers and deliver a product that is far superior to what each of the team members individually could do.
Figure 1 shows “Rubik’s cube of happiness”, illustrating the building blocks of our approach for sustaining, measuring ,and increasing happiness through consciously tracking and steering your emotions, entanglement and tribes.
Figure 1. Rubik's Cube of Happiness
As illustrated in Rubik’s cube of happiness above, the book is divided in three main parts:
I – What sustains happiness?
Part I lays out the foundations of groupflow based on the theory of flow defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, extending it to groups of creative people who develop radically new ideas. Flow in the sense of Csikszentmihalyi consists of operating in positive stress while being fully immersed in a near impossible task. Groups of people get together in creative swarms, sharing similar ethical and moral values, and establish digital virtual tribes. People in the same virtual tribe show similar emotional responses and thus signal to each other membership in the same tribe. They become “synchronized” in entanglement through shared emotional responses to form the collaborative bond that carries them to groupflow.
II - How can we measure happiness?
Our work has combined three different approaches to track and mirror human interaction while groups of people collaborate in groupflow: measuring emotion in content, measuring network structure, and measuring interaction dynamics. These methods are enabled through the most recent advances in AI, machine learning, and deep learning. Emotions of individuals can be measured through body signals using smartwatches, through image recognition of body language, through image recognition of facial expressions, and through voice emotion recognition. Most prominently, emotions can also be recognized through word usage. These different emotion recognition systems use different AI algorithms, for instance deep learning for face emotion recognition and body language recognition, or other machine learning algorithms for NLP (natural language processing) to calculate emotions from words. Besides recognizing the emotion of individuals, the network structure of the interaction network can be tracked using graph algorithms and social network analysis, to compute the centrality of individuals in the network, and the distribution of centralities among all members of the network. Finally, network dynamics can be calculated, looking at changes in network structure and position over time. The content of what is being said by whom at what time can also be analyzed, the more the words of an individual in a network differ from the words of the other members of the network, and the faster they are picked up by others, the more influential that individual is. Entanglement measures the rhythm and synchronicity of mutual interaction in the network. The more synchronized changes in interaction and network position among members of a network are, the more entangled are these individuals.
III - How can we increase happiness?
To increase happiness and groupflow, we introduce the inovent process: insight, oversight, entanglement. The key to the creation of groupflow through entanglement is the creation of COINs, Collaborative Innovation Networks, teams of intrinsically motivated people collaborating on a shared creative task to create something radically new. They become part of a virtual organism operating in collective awareness. Their collective consciousness, their entanglement, and their groupflow are supported and reinforced through insight gained by virtual mirroring, by showing them how much they are already synchronized and what they can do to become even more entangled. As has been shown in our research, getting access to their virtual mirror greatly improves performance, creativity, and happiness of teams. This is based on the principle “the best against the rest”, showing people how they are doing compared to the anonymized aggregated communication patterns of their peers together with recommendations for more happiness and groupflow. The virtual mirror also exposes individuals to oversight by integrating feedback from others, leading to stress and pain, as they might discover that they are not as popular, fair, ethical, and collaborative as they think they are. Accepting their potential weaknesses, and demonstrating willingness to change will be temporarily painful, but will lead to groupflow, better performance and superior results.