THE FUTURE  A Short Guide to Getting There in One Piece

THE FUTURE A Short Guide to Getting There in One Piece

TWELVE: Connective Thinking at The Core of Intelligence 

A decade ago, intelligence was far less connected than it is today. Even though the obsession for smartness was comparable then to how we feel about it today. And in another few short years, it will have changed again – exponentially.

The collective response in the first days of COVID-19 tells the story of how much has changed — thousands of scientific papers, the result of global scientific collaboration and largely impervious to political bickering.

The new operation is deeply interdependent – both internally and externally. This interdependence is increasingly smart and as a result, the operation becomes increasingly smart. Smart means greater fluidity, increased adaptability, and accelerated responsiveness. Many people still call this Agile.

More and more investment focus is applied to improving the flow of intelligence. We are calling these things ‘platforms’ but really this is just intelligent operation. This deeply intimate attention to the fine-tuning is a considerable effort. Each act of fine-tuning is at a granular level of detail. Small in some senses but added up – massively impactful at scale.

Take Google.  Google’s strength comes directly from the knowledge people create, and the choices they make when they browse. Google’s business model wouldn’t exist without leveraging the intelligence of knowledge producers, curators, and users. This is about the use of the cognitive power of billions of individuals becoming collective intelligence. It emerges from the interoperation of large networks composed according to the query.

Every business can think the same – it must engage with the ecosystems of intelligence that exist within and surrounds it. It means identifying the right people, the generators of knowledge – the systems and processes needed and the gaps that may exist.

THIRTEEN: The Tyranny of Key Words

We must work hard with people to appreciate their terminology. I personally ask as many questions as I can to be certain I’ve understood them – hopefully without irritating them. I do it from bitter experience.

People leave critical meetings with keywords whistling around their brains. They’re as dissimilar in meaning as possible from their colleagues. Imagine the risk of that when they go away to do the work. It’s feasible that everyone leaving a meeting has a wildly differing definition of each goal or action. In many cases, this is the norm.

The pandemic of zero bandwidth means we’ve little time to check in what others mean when such words are used. This is extremely dangerous because we use these words to define important constructs in plans being built to make progress. A single word can take on massive importance. It then becomes shorthand for important concepts — Culture, Agile, Innovation, Mindset, Pervasive, Digital, Transformation.

Critical words with flexible meaning. This is a major challenge to newcomers or occasional visitors to complex programs. Individuals with a cursory glance of a document or presentation use the prior experience of those words and that’s that.

And that’s not all. The meaning of these words continues to change as circumstances dictate and without anyone involved realising it – chaos ensues. The meaning of words is reinvented by use and the creeping scope of their continued application.


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About the Author

John CaswellIn 2001 he formed Group Partners in response to the strategic void — a scary hole in how business worked. Strategy is the word he uses to describe plans for change and transformation. He created a global consultancy based in Structured Visual Thinking™ — a collaborative and visual technique for creating strategy and plans. Designed as the antidote to the countess uninspiring and traditional methods for building the right plans for the future.

View all posts by John Caswell

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