Tuesday, March 1, 2016

To Celebrate #2600th Blog Posting: Five Wisdoms to Deepen Leadership Influence

Wisdom it the ultimate level of intelligence.

It is the beginning the month, also the time to celebrate the #2600th blog posting of the “Future of CIO” blog. Many think Digital is the age of people, the age of choices, the age of innovation, the age of empathy, the age of continuous delivery, and the age of wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge at the right time, and it is the intelligence to make use of that input in the right manner, and wisdom it the ultimate level of intelligence. From leadership and management perspective, what are the broader understanding of wisdom, how to bring wisdom to the workplace, and how to deepen your leadership influence via wisdom?

Creativity wisdom: Creativity is about thinking beyond conventional wisdom. Creative thinking is unique and original than many other types of thinking: some are the habit, repetition of memory, the way of least resistance, emotional reaction, social conformity, approval seeking, dogmatism, pedanticism, following, mendacity. The range of scholarly interest in creativity includes a multitude of definitions and approaches involving several disciplines such as psychology, cognitive science, education, philosophy, technology, theology, sociology, linguistics, etc. Creativity is a higher level of thinking which could leads to wisdom because it often imposes a higher cognitive load as you think 'harder' and consciously use different kinds of thought processes and thinking tools like association, perspective shifting, opposites etc., when you are wanting to come up with a creative solution to a challenge. A certain mental, psychological and conditional chemistry is needed to break-away from thoughts that others have thought about. So creativity appears to be beyond the conventional thinking - where you have left the confines of other people's thoughts. Creativity is context - dependent, so it could mean a type of contextual intelligence. When you are on a higher plane of thinking you are not confined by walls. You may see others confined by it. Creativity appears to require two styles of thinking, "associative" and analytic. The first seems to be more perceptually based, related to the "aha" phenomenon, and can be below conscious awareness. The second is more cognitively based and entails labored working through the products of the associative process. That creativity in the human sense is not due to connecting of two shallow pools of knowledge, but the ability to dig deep and to make deep connections and build on those connections. Hence, creativity wisdom is critical for finding the new way to solve the old problems or creating the new knowledge and capturing fresh insight based on accumulated human wisdom.

Strategic wisdom: Strategic thinking is the ability to think on a temporal plane. Strategic thinking is about where you are, where you want to be, identify the gap and create the alternate approaches to anticipate and provide a solution. Strategic thinking is more about making decisions directly towards achieving defined outcomes as a purposive activity, so it is the “keep the end in mind” thought process. It is the wisdom because the strategy is often the guide and roadmap to navigate us in the right direction. The road to somewhere can arrive via many different routes. Therefore, people want to follow the footsteps with a leader presenting highly strategic wisdom. Managing complexity is a misnomer. Life has always been complex, but a few things serve to make modern complexity a different situation: the prediction of what will happen, the speed at which things happen and the connectedness in the business environment. These factors make managing in complexity or managing in complex situations, a difficult skill to master, leaders with strategic wisdom will have clear vision to pursue, the courage to step into the uncharted water, the well thought-out plan to adapt to changes and have the perseverance to keep laser focus, it is the application of knowledge and intelligence to solve problems with long term perspectives.
System Wisdom: Systems thinking is a way of understanding complexity. Systems Thinking by definition is a cognitive process (thinking), a profound thinking process to embrace holism and nonlinearity. Systems thinking is a type of synthetic thinking with complex mix of several components; typically it includes: Dynamic thinking (positioning your issue as part of a pattern of behavior that has developed over time); Scientific thinking (using models to test hypotheses and discard falsehoods, not just to ascertain ‘the truth’); Cause-effective thinking (constructing a model to explain how the problem behavior arises), ‘Forest’ thinking (seeing the ‘big picture’ and taking a more holistic view of that system); Analytical thinking (analyzing how things actually work, the cause and effect relationships, and Quantitative’ thinking: (quantifying not just the hard data but also the soft variables that are operating in the system). To put simply, Systems thinking is nothing more than the good combination of analytic and synthetic thinking, see the trees without missing the forest; quantify not just the hard data, but also the soft variables; go beyond the surface to dig through the root cause of problem arising, and take a scientific approach to explore the nature and universe. So it leads to wisdom by which the complex situations can be managed in a systematic way, as only systems thinking allows you to act with the network in mind. Although each random event is not predictable, the general pattern or distribution of events is. Without the right set of System principles, the white can be taken as black, the round can be perceived as square, and the good can be translated into evil. Systems Thinking is a holistic, balanced and often an abstract thinking to understand things profoundly.

Decision wisdom: Majority of leaders and professional spend significant amount of time on making large or small decisions in the work and life. It takes wisdom (and often collective wisdom) to make effective decisions. There is fuzziness in the decision because there is fuzziness in conflicting criteria. Making good decisions start with framing the right questions. Inappropriate framing is being the root cause of most bad decisions. It’s also due to the lack of inquisitive minds. People need to ask questions. The thinking approach being used is informed at some level on subjective, intuitive sources of information, but it was calibrated and employed in the structured guiding process that got everyone to slow down and think through the implications of their intuitive, subjective assumptions. Regarding not having time to stop and think in a crisis, this is one place where different styles of thinking make a difference. At digital age, making data-based decisions means to leverage analytical thinking, advanced analytic tools, the human’s intuition, and add the “wisdom” in the decision process to improve the overall effectiveness of decision making.

Culture wisdom: From business perspective, culture is the way how we think and do things around here, it is the collective mindset; with digitalization and globalization, culture wisdom is the type of intelligence for tolerance of ambiguity, a set of capabilities for cultural flexibility, learning agility, handling complexity, communicating virtually, and working across cultures. The definition of culture is 'the mindsets, attitudes, feelings, values and behaviors that characterize and inform a group and its members. Culture stems from the mindset and behavior of the leadership. The spirit of organizations comes from the top, and culture is the collective mindset and behavior stem from the 'mainstream' mindset and behavior of the leadership. Hence, high-level culture wisdom should make leadership influence more profound. For example, if leaders demonstrate thoughtful risk taking and reward thoughtful risk taking - even when the outcome is not all that was hoped for - then that culture will permeate the organization - to the extent that it can give the innate nature of the organization's population. The leaders with a high level of culture of wisdom in the global stage will present high empathy- the ability to connect the minds via multi-disciplinary touch point and multi-angle understanding. The empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings; or the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Therefore, culture intelligence becomes more critical for digital leaders and professionals to work in today’s multigenerational, multicultural and multi-devicing work environment, it is the wisdom to bring understanding and workforce harmony.

The ultimate aim of knowledge is wisdom. There are lots of smarts, lots of ability, and lots of attitudes - very, very little wisdom. "But how do we get wisdom”? it’s the century-old question. There is no shortcut, you just have to climb the information-knowledge-insight-wisdom pyramid, you have to not just see, but perceive; not just listen, but understand, experience and learn; and make every step of your life journey as an opportunity to discover, not a destination. When you feel truly humbled, wisdom might just come upon you, and lift you up….


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