How well, post-Facebook and post-COVID, is our business applying the connected intelligence of minds across the organisation to ask, how well are we framing our problem statements?
Just as in your own company, every mind in every rival business with which you compete is now better connected than ever before.
And the degree of precision with which those minds can be steered to drill down into, amplify and articulate our problems and challenges is unprecedented.
This makes it only a matter of time before someone sets a new standard for the ways in which they learn to organise the intelligence, tools and knowledge currently hidden within their business.
And when they do, as its human component is the only ingredient that can imagine, ask and answer every critical question any business has about itself, that management team will quickly learn how to apply this method of working to every question of survival and advance it has in its company.
At the time the internet came into our lives and our shared language began to change, a “killer app” was considered to be a computer application of such great value or popularity that it assured the success of the technology with which it was associated.
Now, at the emerging knowledge frontier, when every business uses the cloud, the next killer app is unlikely to be a technology.
Much more disruptively, it will likely be the ease with which that rival can reach into its connected intellect in search of its solutions.
This makes everything about competing with that business a question urgently to be considered and asked, and a problem to be investigated, interrogated and solved.
And, to make sure the right problem is addressed, conjuring the ability to articulate the most accurate problem statement possible is essential both for those who face it, and for those who will need to make decisions about what it throws up.
So, do you know for a fact that your strategy is based on fact, or is it possible your competitor has a resource and a way of thinking as a team that gives it a better strategy?
And, if it has a better way of working, have you thought through how that will affect your ROI? How well will you know how to counter that strategy?
Because its human leaders remain its only important judges, no matter what other machines it uses, the intelligence bound up in any organisation also remains the only reliable tool it has for its own rigorous self-examination and continuous improvement, because that is where its experience lies.
Truly understanding the problem may be more important than its answer
Albert Einstein is quoted: “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”
That same curiosity driving the rival able to capture most effectively as a platform technology the power of the connected intellect in its business will become the most formidable of competitors.
Against this challenge, as smart as your managers may be, the greatest of modern challenges is to be able, at speed, to reveal, switch on and grow your own business’s intelligence, wherever it can be found.
By combining our collective intellect with the tools we now have available to us, we have never been more able to investigate, share and articulate in detail both our problems, or to envisage and model what we can predict will be our obstacles to success.
Nor have we ever been as capable of investigating and expressing, and testing, as solutions, the knowledge and workplace intelligence we have available to us.
Using the earlier tools it had available to it, these are precisely the capacities by which human society has gamed its advances over millennia.
And yet, while so near to the surface and accessible in ways never before exploited, the potency of our most precious and precise human resource – imagination, insight, experience and the capacity to articulate, learn, iterate, improvise and develop – remains under-used in most businesses.
This virus knows no respect, and will only harm those already suffering from hubris
The quality of thinking available can also not necessarily accurately be associated with rank or qualification. Tacit knowledge – what we don’t know we know – is everywhere, and like a virus, it recognises no borders and no authority.
No company can be managed to make itself more productive or optimally to boost its ROI when its true intellectual capacity remains unexamined and invisible.
For many, for them to know they have it, it will have to be reported.
If a business can’t, or chooses not to see it, it can’t get better usage from knowledge it already has, and in which, through its team’s experience, it has already, and almost certainly unknowingly, invested.
Unused knowledge is a drag on any business, when it knows neither what it knows, nor whether it is drawing on its best minds in framing and answering its internal questions.
The situation becomes worse when it is relying simply on those few best positioned, or those most adept at playing on either their authority or its politics.
For its leaders, what is not yet known about the potential of the intellect within their businesses is hard to imagine but until its diverse views can be brought to their attention, made visible, articulate and read, it is harder still to manage.
Until it is actively investigated, the path to their company’s most potent and rigorous collective thinking and problem-solving capabilities will not be revealed.
And, unprobed, the competitive knowledge any business most needs to identify, build, attract, refresh, develop and grow will remain elusive.
And, as long as they remain unknown and out of sight, your company’s individual and collective insights can tell you nothing about how you will make your business smarter, who you should hire next, or how you can configure your workplace around the intelligence it must attract, retain, nurture, grow and protect and reward, and what for.
The needed management innovation won’t happen without expanding imagination about what is possible.
Because as long as we don’t know what we possess, and rely only on what we know of the few with which we surround ourselves, we will both be living in a different management era and remain unable to spell out what expertise we really need.
To what degree does this look like your business?
And how well is your business framing its own current problem statements?