NOW AVAILABLE The draft of my book on Organizational Intelligence is now available on LeanPub http://leanpub.com/orgintelligence. Please support this development by subscribing and commenting. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Does Intelligence Entail Objectivity?

#orgintelligence @snowded


While working up some new material around the pattern basis of human intelligence, Dave Snowden finds that we are not good at being objective. He lists some of the common effects that are know to prevent objectivity in humans.

  • The contrast effect (sometimes known as the availability heuristic) ...
  • The sunk cost effect ...
  • Out group homogeneity ...
  • Actor/observer contrasts ...
  • Self confirmation and rationalization ...
  • Confirmity (going with the flow) ...
  • Overconfidence ...
All of these effects can be found in human groups and organizations as well as in individuals, so the list is clearly relevant to organizational intelligence as well as individual human intelligence. However, the remedies may be different.

Some of these effects are well-known as logical fallacies - for example confirmation bias - and we could perhaps train people and groups to be more aware of (and therefore more resistant to) these effects.

But there is a problem with intelligence that is too rarified and ungrounded, that fails to engage with the realities of a given position and perspective. Intelligence doesn't just have to be reasonably objective; active and engaged intelligence has to be subjective as well. Both/and.

Furthermore, some of these effects are inevitable consequences of operating in a social context. We have to be willing to agree with other people at least some of the time, and we have to have at least some confidence in our judgement. The intelligence here is judging just how much to agree/disagree, and how long to hesitate. It is critical points like these that differentiate effective groups and organizations from less effective ones. Not just intelligence but character.

No comments:

Post a Comment