Book by: Dawn Markova and Angie McArthur
Review by: Aramis Martinez
Program Assistant-Center for the Humanities in an Urban Environment
Florida International University
A core skill that all advisors must have is the ability to work in partnership with others. This includes administration, peers, and, of course, students. Yet, while this skill comes naturally to some, it is quite difficult for some to partner together. At the same time, teaching students how to work together with their peers is an essential skill that advisors can teach. For an advisor to properly utilize the skill of collaboration and to then teach it to others, they must also know how collaboration works at its core. Understanding how to have individuals work together has been the goal of Dr. Dawna Markova for years. This exploration continues, along with the aid of co-author Angie MacArthur, with Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently.
Dr. Markova begins by introducing the vast complexity of successful collaboration. Beyond simply working as a unit, it involves adapting how one thinks, how to best utilize one’s talents, what one asks, and how to share these ideas with another individual. Most importantly, it begins with a stronger understanding of one’s own thinking patterns. In each section, Markova and MacArthur first have the reader analyze their own patterns before moving on to working with another. This is a helpful breakdown if used by advisors because it allows the advisor to learn about themselves before they take the skills to another individual.
The book is structured around anecdotal stories with workshop activities breaking things up. These stories revolve around Markova’s work with individuals in corporations, in law firms, and even with singers. These stories make the concepts tangible in a real world environment and allows the book be incredibly easy to read. The book breaks up its concepts into four distinct areas: how the mind works, thinking talents, inquiry style, and shifting mindsets. Within these sections, Markova and MacArthur task the reader with discovering how their listening works (visual, kinesthetic, auditory), what thinking talents they have (humor, leadership), what kinds of questions must they ask to understand something, and how to place themselves and understand the mindset of another individual. While each section is meant to build upon the last, they can also easily be read individually. This can be helpful if one needs to refresh their understanding of a specific concept.
The concepts contained in this book seem to be essential for an advisor who wishes to teach collaboration to their students or even their peers. The workshop activities are invaluable as they can be used during advising sessions to aid the student in understanding their own thinking pattern. Helping students learn their thinking talents could aid them towards choosing a major or career. The distinct separation in material is useful if an advisor would like to lead a workshop based only on a certain section of the material.
Markova and MacArthur have crafted a book that allows the best in an individual to come out and then lets that individual bring out the best in those around them. Everyone should take some time with this book, even if simply for personal growth.
Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently (2015). Book by Dawn Markova and Angie McArthur. Review by Aramis Martinez. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau (Random House). 384 pp., $28.00, (Hardback). ISBN 9780812994902