• Adam Thackeray

What is Wisdom?

Knowledge-workers...many of us have this "label". We spend our days using our brains to solve problems, build systems and deliver products/services to our customers. There are lots of other descriptions that come along with being a "knowledge worker"...knowledge management, knowledge transfer, mind the skills gap, upskilling workers or a favourite of mine "goto your learning management system (LMS)" to learn and grow. With talent being one of the top challenges for organizations, knowledge is front and centre.

Knowledge by it's dictionary definition are facts, information and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge is everywhere.

But what do you do with all of this knowledge? How can you apply that knowledge at work? How can you make a judgement based on all of the knowledge you've learned?

It's great that there is a tremendous amount of knowledge, information and data for us out there to soak up BUT if we don't know what to do with or how to apply it…then it's useless!

This is where wisdom comes into play. The term wisdom is not common place in business (unless of course you're a fan of Charlie Mungur and mental models), however it is intertwined in the very fabric of our work lives. Everything is really interconnected.

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using, knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is formed by three dimensions - cognitive, reflective and affective.

  • Cognitive - understanding situations

  • Reflective - examine things from multiple perspectives

  • Affective - positive emotion and behaviours

When you think of wise individuals, some of the greats of history come to mind - Socrates, Coco Chanel, Marcus Aurelius, Cleopatra, Sun Tzu and Confucius may come to mind (I welcome you to list your favourites in the comments!)...while these are AMAZING people, you can easily look around your place of work and take note…because there are wise people all around you. Their wisdom is not simply in a book, an LMS or project repository (…not yet anyways!). These people are what drive your business or can cause it to crash and burn.

You don't have to look far in the past to see blunders of "unwise" decisions. in May 2014, France's national railway service ordered 2000 cars too wide for the platforms! It ended up costing the French government over $21 Billion.

Umair Haque wrote in his Wisdom Manifesto that the scarcest, rarest and most valuable resource in the world today is wisdom. That was February 2010….and yet we continue to take it for granted in 2021. Our fast-paced business lives do not stop and take notice that generations of wisdom are walking out the door. We can't afford to lose it.

So what is wisdom? Wisdom is the epicentre of our experiences, applied knowledge and perspectives.

Is your organization using wisdom as a competitive advantage?

Thank you for reading and send your feedback!

-Adam Thackeray

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