None of us is as smart as all of us—take this quiz and see for yourself

Here’s an exercise from a team building class I attended that I wanted to share with you.

It uses questions from a Mensa quiz to illustrate the point that a team’s collective wisdom is always greater than any individual team member’s.

To get started, see how many of these questions you can answer individually. According to Mensa, if you can figure out 23 of these, you qualify for “genius” status.

(I’ve filled in the first one for you—check the bottom of this post for the complete answer key when you are done.)


Now, gather your team together (or send them a link to this page).  How many of these phrases can your team correctly identify as a group?

When we conducted this exercise in class, results varied widely.  Some people scored high, some people scored low. Some people came up with the more obscure answers, while others missed the easy ones.  The point of course was that no matter what, the group as a whole always outscored the individual members—even the really smart ones who got many of the answers all by themselves.  In every case the team was smarter than the individual members and had a greater capacity to answer the questions that were put in front of it.

What gets in the way of sharing?

So why don’t teams share information more freely and use this to their advantage?  There are a lot of reasons ranging from, “I like to be the smart one,” and “I like to be unique,” to “As long as I have this specialized knowledge, I have some leverage, etc.”

Now ask yourself two more important questions.  1. What can we do as a team to break down individual silos and share information more freely?   2. What individual or organizational barriers are getting in our way?

Teams perform best when they operate as a collective unit instead of as a collection of individuals. But that takes work—it doesn’t happen by itself.  As a leader or senior team member, consider what you can do this week to help your team share more freely.  It’s good for you, your team, and your customers!


1. 24 hours in a day; 2. 26 letters of the alphabet; 3. 7 days of the week; 4. 12 signs of the Zodiac; 5. 66 books of Bible; 6. 52 cards in a pack (without jokers); 7. 13 stripes in the US flag; 8. 18 holes on a golf course; 9. 39 books of the Old Testament; 10. 5 tines on a fork/5 toes on a foot; 11. 90 degrees in a right angle; 12. 3 blind mice (see how they run); 13. 32 is the temperature in degrees F at which water freezes; 14. 15 players on a rugby team; 15. 3 wheels on a tricycle; 16. 100 Cents in a Rand; 17. 11 players in a football (soccer) team; 18. 12 months in a year; 19. 13 is unlucky for some; 20. 8 tentacles on an octopus; 21. 29 days in Feb. in a leap year; 22. 27 books in the New Testament; 23. 365 days in a year; 24. 13 loaves in a baker’s dozen; 25. 52 weeks in a year; 26. 9 lives of a cat; 27. 60 minutes in an hour; 28. 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human body; 29. 64 squares on a chess board; 30. 9 provinces in South Africa; 31. 6 balls to an over in cricket; 32. 1000 years in a millennium; 33. 15 men on a dead man’s chest

5 thoughts on “None of us is as smart as all of us—take this quiz and see for yourself

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