Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Wealth of Wisdom

Leadership is about future and direction, leadership without wisdom is just like the lamp without light.

We are moving to the deep, deep digital dynamic, hopefully, we are also moving from a knowledge economy to the digital age with the abundance of wisdom slowly and steadily. If knowledge is concrete, intelligence is contextual, and then wisdom is abstract, like the light to guide us through. What is the enriched content about wisdom?

Abstract Wisdom: Wisdom is not knowledge; one cannot have wisdom without knowledge, but one cannot substitute wisdom for knowledge as well. Wisdom is broader and abstract, and knowledge is narrow and detailed; wisdom comes through the result of life experience or knowledge transcendence. Knowledge helps you figure out “HOW,” - the practices; and wisdom guides you through “WHY” - the principles. Wisdom has something to do with making a sound judgment. Wisdom is the ultimate human intelligence -timeless and wordless, to unify and harmonize. Leadership is about future and direction, leadership without wisdom is just like the lamp without light. The wise leaders with abstract thinking have the capability to foresee the future of an organization, to zoom in the furthest things closer, it’s also the thinking process to shape the holistic view from silo functions, to abstract wisdom from information, to manage the detailed business issues from an architectural, social, philosophical perspective. Wisdom is willing to accept that, there is unknown in the life journey. Putting aside all the trained thoughts, systems and boxes, let the open possibility come to connect, naturally, the way to attain wisdom is to have an open mind, be aware you could be wrong, learn from your experiences and those of others, be aware yours is not the only valid worldview, learn to see the world from different angles. Be brief, be succinct, be essential!

System Wisdom: In Systems Thinking (ST), true wisdom often comes from a willingness to let go of past learning. In the context of Systems Thinking, there is a huge difference in what ST wisdom stands for - and that is possibly what makes it 'uncommon' in the sense of being difficult to 'acquire.' The underlying principles of system wisdom seem not to make so much sense with the rational wisdom. That perhaps makes the systems thinkers “struggle,” because it means that one has to make a huge effort to get beyond rational linear thinking - what all traditional education systems groom trainees to do - and the 'rational wisdom' that comes as part of that package. So, non-intuitively ST wisdom is not derived from 'accumulating' - but in observing the changing context of relationships - and in many cases, that means 'letting go of accumulated traditional wisdom.' Does it mean system wisdom is complementary to rational wisdom, or rational wisdom is more scientific, but system wisdom is more philosophical? Rational wisdom is the usual meaning of the term 'wisdom' - it means accumulative wisdom that grows with age - or 'learning from past experience.’ But unlearning is more difficult, and the difficulty grows exponentially with age. So ST wisdom is more difficult to acquire with age. Still, getting older doesn't mean getting mind closed, being learning agile is the digital fitness for all ages.

Collective Wisdom: Collective wisdom is abundant and invaluable at the digital age because the world becomes hyperconnected, talented people can share insight, co-create new knowledge and co-solve the challenges more seamlessly. It becomes the new normal for businesses to crowdsourcing for fresh ideas, and digital business is about leveraging social technologies and collaboration platforms to amplify collective human capabilities, achieve collective performance and share economic prosperity. Yet successful business achievement is a complex fabric with numerous variables, contextual nuances, and human sensitivities. The collective wisdom not only has enriched context but also is an attitude to understand and be understood; to share and grow; to ask questions, also become part of solutions to things bigger than each one of us. It improves the organizational agility to adapt to rapid changes and stimulates the next level of innovation, and therefore, many think that digital is also the age of innovation.

We become wise when we are humble enough to be aware of and admit what we don't know and share what we know, and understanding that, compared to what we don't know, what we know is just the tip of an iceberg. Wisdom and humility go hand in hand; we become wise when we admit the limit of human ability, but also restlessly unleash the unlimited human potential; we become wise when we see the trees without missing the forest; and we become wise when we can learn from nature balance: the sunshine and moonlight, the full spectrum of colors, the change of seasons, and many more.


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