Wednesday, September 15, 2021


Innovative/Intelligent categorization becomes the bridge for us to move up from an industrial/knowledge society to knowledge/creativity society with accelerated speed.

Categorization is about recognizing or labeling things by shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world. Historically, knowledge is categorized based on subject matter; people are categorized based on physical identity, organizations are categorized based on industry functionality; societies are categorized based on political systems, etc.

 Nowadays, we shift from the silo based industrial age to the hyper connected digital era, many traditional categorization methodologies and practices need to be updated to improve knowledge flow and catalyze innovation. Recategorization provides a new angle to enable business leaders and professionals to connect the dots across the box, relearn some domain knowledge to capture insight, and develop interdisciplinary expertise for reaching the next level of professionalism.

Scientific categorization of information/knowledge, etc, is not always rigid, but needs to set the criteria and clarify the goal to fit the ever changing environment: Traditional categorization based on shared features on the surface sometimes generates silo mentality, conventional wisdom, and creates cognitive gaps on how people sort information or understand people or things. Now, the geographical, functional and industrial boundaries are blurred, and the knowledge cycle is shortened significantly; that means knowledge gets stale sooner than what you thought about due to rapid change and exponential growth of information. To keep recycling knowledge and recirculating our imagination, there is a variety of categorization, generalization, specialization, inference & deference logic in science and there are a handful themes and tones in art for us to break down the old box, set new standards, and recreate something fresh.

There is a mix bag of quality data and fake information; there’s fresh viewpoint and outdated knowledge; someone’s knowledge is your information only. Multidisciplinary work is almost the order of the day in which contrasting ideas, views will surface. The critical thinking domain and the subject domain are not mutually exclusive. The subject domain gives you something to think about and knowledge to understand, and the critical thinking domain provides a useful methodology to filter information and build your own knowledge base. Thus, reset criteria to categorize information perhaps help us understand varying subjects contextually and nurture creativity.

Effective categorization or classification of a work/business initiative portfolio management helps to prioritize strategic goals and bring up long term standpoint:
Either individually or at the organizational setting, there are so many things going on these days, the overwhelming growth of information and overloaded assignment or business initiatives are the new normal. Without effective categorization to clarify the goals for fitting your circumstances, perhaps, resources/assets/time would be misused and talent could be misplaced. Effective categorization helps to highlight the real value of portfolio management that supports strategic planning and execution. Some elements that may help to identify what factors could result in short-term revenue-generating business initiatives being set aside in favor of another considered more strategic, or vice versa.

Many companies categorized their portfolio as “run, grow, transform,” with an intention to balance between reaping some quick wins and investing in building long term competency. Nowadays, strategy management is not a linear step, but an iterative continuum, thus, classification is not some inflexible constraint, categorizing-recategorizing as a continuous healthy activity for adapting to emerging trends to fit for the prioritized needs. Clarified categorization is also important to have enough visibility about the execution layer and how the projects/programs are performing in order to monitor progress in a structural way and make the right decisions to ensure that the strategy potential is achieved solidly.

Categorizing/recategorizing people/talent/skills/capabilities not based on physical identity or other conventional standard, but on your unique vision for teaming up to achieve common goals: People learn as children about the world by labeling/identifying things; and somewhere along the way, people learn that labeling/judging other people by conventional standard. The traditional labeling/categorizing sometimes inflates/deflates egos, enhances misjudgment and causes some societal problems. The challenge is to try avoiding extreme thinking, not judging something or someone as absolute good or bad, wrong or right, or black or white, but always giving more comprehensive reasoning and deep analysis of subjective vs. objective perceptions, etc. Today’s working environment is multigenerational, multicultural, and multi-devicing or to put simply, hyperdiverse. The first most successful societies were diverse mixtures of peoples. The art and science of management is about how to recognize their most invaluable asset- people, categorize/recategorize them by seeing through them and understanding them, and putting/rotating them in the positions for solving problems large or small.

As the old saying well put: Don’t judge the book by its cover. Right now, even the traditional genre standard is not accurate enough for us to sort the books fitting our mindset and taste. In this regard, recategorization is about personalization or customization based on your set of customers, both help businesses to discover their niche customers and bring insight and convenience for customers to get their needs in a more intimate way. So categorization is not only a mechanism to help us sort things; but more importantly nowadays, it’s an intelligence embedded technique to spark imagination from abundant knowledge; to enrich knowledge from expanded vision; to sharpen skills from innate talents; to build competency from skills, etc.

It’s important to deepen our understanding of many issues by recategorizing or reclassification for generating new knowledge, capturing insight and nurturing creativity. Knowledge/Initiative/ Capability optimization may evolve and move between categories based on the evolution lens, from base or competitive level to differentiated level. Innovative/intelligent categorization becomes the bridge for us to move up from an industrial/knowledge society to knowledge/creativity society with accelerated speed.


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