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Friday, May 4, 2012

Questions on OrgIntelligence

A student from the Middle East emailed me as part of his research into organizational intelligence in universities, and I sent him some brief answers.


1)   Is organizational intelligent a mental ability in the organization?

I would avoid the word "mental" because it raises too many philosophical distractions. I prefer the word "cognitive". Yes, it is a cognitive ability, or perhaps a set of cognitive abilities.

In my book I describe organizational intelligence in terms of six cognitive capabilities: Perception (Information Gathering), Sense-Making, Decision-Making, Memory, Learning and Communication. (We could argue whether Communication counts as a cognitive capability, but it is clearly related.)

See Does Organizational Cognition Make Sense?


2)   Whether organizational intelligent is a mechanism?

Organizational intelligence relies on a number of cognitive and cultural mechanisms and instruments (tools), but I don't think it makes sense to to regard organizational intelligence itself as a mechanism or instrument.

However, like human intelligence, organizational intelligence is one of those qualities that only exists if it is exercised, and disappears (atrophies) if it is not exercised. (Power is another one of those qualities.) But I don't regard the exercise of organizational intelligence as quite the same as using it purely as a means to an end.


3)   Is organizational intelligent connected to organization functions?

In my framework, organizational intelligence depends on six critical organizational capabilities - see above. All other organizational activity is dependent on organizational intelligence, in the sense that they should perform better if there is greater org intelligence, and perform worse if there is a lack of org intelligence. (This is what I call a soft dependency - obviously an organization can perform all sorts of functions unintelligently, but it may achieve better results if it can perform these functions intelligently.)


4)   Is organizational intelligent a planning method?

No. All planning activity may benefit from org intelligence. Conversely, improvements to org intelligence can be planned methodically.

A planning method typically involves a perceived gap between an existing state or problem state (AS-IS) and a desired future state or solution state (TO-BE), and a series of interdependent actions to get from AS-IS to TO-BE.

For organizational intelligence, we might wish to assess the current level of organizational intelligence, as well as identify various inhibitors to organizational intelligence in a specific organization, and then plan a series of improvements that would remove these inhibitors and improve the overall level of intelligence. (I have a self-assessment checklist, designed for assessing current level and identifying problems.)


5)   Is it logical to examine organizational intelligent according to the context of every organization?

Yes. Different organizations need different levels of org intelligence, depending on their strategy and environment.


6)   According to these topics and dimensions what would be a definition for organizational intelligent in universities?

The formal definition of organizational intelligence would be the same for universities as for other organizations. The specific forms and mechanisms would be different, because universities have a specific environment, specific time dimensions, and specific outcomes.

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