We are approaching an era where we are transitioning from a time of knowledge to a time of intelligence. Knowledge is everywhere and becoming increasingly accessible. Just as I.T. once provided a competitive advantage to large companies but was eventually caught up by Moore’s Law, the same will happen with knowledge. While large companies may currently hold a knowledge advantage, technology (think A.I.) will swiftly erode that advantage. In transitions that call for breakthroughs, expertise can become a barrier to the future. The focus for governments and companies will need to shift from providing the right answers to asking the right questions.
As a consequence, building an intelligent system within organizations becomes crucial. Only intelligent systems can quickly adapt to changes in their environment. Intelligent systems are constructed based on questions, not possible answers. Those with answers possess knowledge, while those posing the right questions possess intelligence. What uncertainties does your organization or government have about the future? Or do you have none? If the latter is the case, then you should be genuinely concerned.
However, many organizations are not open to questions; they seek answers. Questions bring uncertainty, slow down execution, and hinder speed. The question ‘Why?’ exposes uncertainties and ambiguities, leading to discussions in places where certainty reigns, and people are paid to be certain. Consequently, it creates confusion. Many executives and managers dislike the question ‘Why?’. Try conducting a social experiment by continuously asking ‘Why?’ for a month. There’s a reasonable chance that the end of your career will be in sight or that you’ll lose friends.
High learning curves are essential for the future. Now more than ever, the ability to interpret the future and respond rapidly is a prerequisite for confidently facing the future. The question must take center stage. Questions open the pathways to the future, while answers merely suggest that the right path is found.
Being conscious and admitting to yourself and others that you do not know what the future holds for your organization is a strength. Doing so may open doors that were previously closed. Failure to do this will result in the continued focus on short-term solutions and Return on Investment, leaving no room for Return on Learning and long-term thinking and action. You will continue believing that your current answer and knowledge will protect you.
Only those who can intelligently adapt to a constantly changing environment will survive. This theory applies to biology as well as organizations. Intelligence is an absolute necessity.
Welcome to the Age of Intelligence.
Author: Rob Adams