Wisdom Management and Wisdom Leadership

actKM has had a recent discussion on the topic of wisdom management.  Patrick and Matt have blogged on the topic and I thought I would put in my 2 cents worth.  I mentioned in my note on actKM that a futures report by the UK Chartered Management Institute envisaged a probable future where technologies for capturing wisdom and wisdom management will emerge.  They stated that knowledge and wisdom management will be key to organisational success. And even more – wisdom will become a valuable resource so organisations will want to access the societal, cultural and organisational memory via practices such as organisational rituals, gatherings and accounts of long-term employees. This tacit knowledge can be accessed via storytelling, anecdotes and case studies. Organisations must increasingly use products and solutions that facilitate wisdom.

The above sounds a bit like some of the later developments in knowledge management to me.  But let’s explore what wisdom management could be.  If the purpose of KM is about improved decision making and innovation, what would wisdom management be about?  Is there a different purpose?  Joe and Serena in their actKM posts seem to think that WM would be more about reducing errors in decision models or making great decisions.  I tend to disagree but more on that later.

There seemed to be general agreement  on actKM not to link the two words wisdom and management together (although I would not mind working in a Wisdom Management Department to be able to say I work in WMD – but then perhaps wisdom management might be a weapon of mass destruction in its own right).  On this track, I have had discussions with others that KM is not about the management of knowledge but the nurturing of an environment where knowledge can be created, shared and where K can flourish (ecosystem model).  So similarly, wisdom management could be the development of an environment where wisdom can be shared and nurtured?

Now all this leads on to the juicy topic of what is this wisdom thing anyway.  And what makes a person wise rather than just knowledgeable?  Wisdom involves ethics, sincerity and cutting through the crap.  Wisdom has more to do with advice, mentoring and life-long learning.  What passes as wisdom for one person is knowledge for another, and is just plain common-sense for another person.  Wisdom is different to consilience (the coming together of knowledge from different domains).

I agreed with Patrick that wisdom tends to be experiential and individual and is difficult to scale.  It has a lot to do with learning and with leadership.  It takes time and is entirely dependent on the journey of the recipient of the wisdom. 

This journey aspect is particularly important.  The Getting of Wisdom is not so much about the destination (as making better decisions) but the journey of getting there – it is more about one’s own lived story and how that unfolds over time and the role of wisdom through mentors and an innate curiosity.

Wisdom and wisdom management may not clarify things in the first instance.  It may be that you need to develop and change your values / beliefs in order to be at a level to receive that wisdom.  Wisdom could be what you look back in hindsight as major transformative learning points in your life.  It could be the spark that confused you and that you had to undertake learning to bridge that paradox and ambiguity.  In this sense case then, true wisdom would be relatively rare whereas knowledge is relatively common (and I don’t mean common sense!).  Wisdom may also involve being reminded of what we have forgotten. 

For many, wisdom has a sense of the spiritual about it as it is personal, to do with lifelong journeys and transformation.  It’s not just head stuff.  It requires courage and curiosity to listen to wisdom.  And sometimes, there may not be anything there anyway (the concept of zen). 

Well, that’s my take on wisdom and wisdom management/leadership  anyway!  I can’t see it taking off anytime soon but you never know with the baby boomers and cultural creatives and downshifters with time and money on their hands, that there might be something in it.  But once it is commoditised, the magic may be lost!


13 Responses to Wisdom Management and Wisdom Leadership

  1. bhattathiri says:

    Management is a systematic way of carrying out activities in any field of human effort. Management need to focus more on leadership skills, e.g., establishing vision and goals, communicating the vision and goals, and guiding others to accomplish them. It also assert that leadership must be more facilitative, participative and empowering in how visions and goals are established and carried out. Some people assert that this really isn’t a change in the management functions, rather it’s re-emphasizing certain aspects of management.
    Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, says the Management Guru Peter Drucker. It creates harmony in working together – equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcity, be they in the physical, technical or human fields, through maximum utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important and essential factor for a successful management.

  2. This is a very interesting discussion point. Thank you for raising it.
    From a technology perspective, it is my view that we are able to evolve our tools, processes & approaches in order to facilitate our ability to more effectively utilise the information & knowledge at our disposal. I think it is this focus on ‘utilisation’ that is the prime point defining the distinction between knowledge/information-centric architectures and those focussed towards the development of ‘wisdom’, collective or individual. The current trend toward social learning & open collaboration are expressions of this.

  3. Joan Baiget says:

    I’m happy to see how people believes in a new culture to move to a collective Wisdom instead to an individual selfishness management. In case my thougths can help in this, let me attach a link to an article (Knowledge Management: The Last Frontier?) I made some time ago about it.
    Best Regards

  4. Prajuto says:

    It is well known now that WISDOM is the higest level of Data–Information-knowledge level. I agree that wisdom has a sense of the spiritual about it as it is personal it requires courage and curiosity to listen to be at the wisdom level. It looks like a “baghawan” or “wali” in Javanese culture, a person or organization who/ which is at this level will create something that be better (or even the best) then innovative services/ products.

  5. Darrey george says:

    Ok with it

  6. Gracia says:

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you ought
    to publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks
    don’t speak about these topics. To the next! Many

  7. Sabine says:

    Great article. I’m dealing with a few of these issues as well..

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