The Wisdom Value Chain


We are beginning to understand that the major challenges that businesses face are complex “ that is they comprise myriad interconnected parts.

Logic and deduction don’t work for these problems. We need to move up the essential value chain, from information to knowledge to wisdom - when productive conversations are the source of wealth-creation – to find sustainable solutions.

The Knowledge of Enterprise

Knowledge we can think of as contextualized information that moves to action. Peter Drucker said "Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody - either by becoming grounds for actions, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different of more effective action".

An older Chinese sage said "To know and not to do is not to know".

The Intelligence of Enterprise

If knowledge calls for a movement to action, how do we determine what action? Organizations are living social systems. What makes them able to evolve and adapt is that they have a nervous system and intelligence just like biological systems do.

The nervous system of an organization is embedded not in computers and hardware networks, but in the network of conversations which bring an organization into existence and, by learning from its experiences, sustains it over time.

Intelligence, the faculty that makes biological and cultural evolution possible, implies and guides the use of knowledge and the capacity to respond to specific opportunities and challenges as they emerge.

Intelligence is needed to guide the transformation of organizations into work systems that support all members in reaching their full potential. Only then will the organization manifest the strategic advantage of being capable of learning as fast as the changes in its environment demand.

The Wisdom of Enterprise

Intelligence refers to our effective use of knowledge, and wisdom refers to our effective use of intelligence.

We're living in an attention economy where there is an overabundance of information and knowledge. Time and attention are the scarcest resource. The competition for available attention is heating up; investing it wisely has become a competence of increasing value. A factor in how wisely we used are attention is how well we balance its distribution between our current and our long-view priorities.

Wisdom has to do with intuiting the long-view through understanding systems in the context of their larger whole. It is also to do with acting in resonance with what is known to be true and lasting. Only wisdom can guide effective decisions in how we invest our attention, both individual and organizational, in the conditions of what Doug Engelbart calls "complexity multiplied by urgency".

Wisdom Practices

Alan Kay, who was first at Xerox, and now is an "imagineer" at Disney, is reported to have said, "Perspective is worth 80 IQ points." The Wisdom Council, a powerful and pragmatic tool for evoking wisdom, uses eight perspectives to bring forward deep insight and profound thinking.

The Wisdom Council can reveal the patterns in chaos, reduce complexity to simplicity, surface clarity and decisiveness from a multitude of options and uncover deep insights.

"I am impressed with the Wisdom Council process. It is simple yet profound."

Bob Johansen, President, Institute for the Future

Leaders also need to access more of their and their organizations wisdom in these challenging times. “Leadership Intelligences in Action” is a new e-book, a modern fable about a leader discovering his inner wisdom.

Mike Bell  


Mike Bell delivers advanced programmes that help individuals release their inner leader. Mike and Patricia Bell founded the The Wisdom Meme - an organisation dedicated to bringing powerful and practical ancient wisdom tools to the benefit of leaders and organisations.

You may also like:

Filed under Personal Development and 1 other. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on