the keystone of the intelligent organization

This is a summary of my closing keynote for the workplace learning & VET stream at EduTECH15 in Brisbane on 3 June 2015.

The intelligent enterprise [l’entreprise intelligente] has to be founded first and foremost on intelligent communication, which in the network era is much more than just passing information. It is actively engaging in conversations to continuously make sense of the changing environment. As it was necessary to be literate in order to work in the industrial era, it is now a basic work requirement to be able to communicate effectively. This means adding value to knowledge, in various mediated forms (video, audio, written, oral). Being able to read and write is not enough. Intelligent communication requires seeking out knowledge in social networks, making sense by creating new communications, and being cognizant of the appropriate times and ways to share that knowledge.

The intelligent organization is based on a simple structure that has the flexibility to deal with complex situations. This is enabled by individuals learning as they work, making decisions without explicit permission, solving problems together, and trying out new things. The human brain is the best interface for complexity. Organizations have to be designed to promote creative and non-routine work, and leave the machines to handle the boring stuff. Complexity requires simple, adaptive organizational structures. Human cognition can fill in the gaps.

Without intelligent communication (PKM), it would be impossible to have self-governance. Intelligent organizations are built on self-managed teams that require fewer external directives. Power sharing can energize the entire workforce to be more entrepreneurial.

Without intelligent communication, managers would not have the basic skills to be networked leaders. The transparency of intelligent communication eliminates the need for most traditional management control mechanisms. Intelligent management focuses on making the whole network smarter.

Without intelligent communication, it would be difficult to adapt to perpetual beta through continuous experimentation. Culture is built upon daily actions. Trust is an emergent property of an intelligent organization, stemming from a healthy workplace culture.

PKM is one way to expand our literacy beyond the passage of information and toward co-creating knowledge and actively engaging in sense-making at work and beyond. Reading and writing are not enough in an era when connections are many and information is abundant. Literacy today requires an aggressively engaged citizenry. It starts with intelligent communication.



3 Responses to “the keystone of the intelligent organization”

  1. Mathieu Laferriere

    I completely agree with you Harold. The good thing is that if people learn how to better communicate with others, they will get an impact now, even if they don’t want – yet – to be an intelligent enterprise. Communication is at the intersection of today’s work and future of work.

    The other good thing is that if you have a better communication, you save time. Bill Jensen made a correlation between those 2 concepts.

  2. Leo Meerman

    Harold, I am afraid that you underestimate the role of information in your last paragraph. Every kind of communication is impossible without information, more or less intelligent and/or digital or analog. Btw : a nice blog, always interesting to read about interesting ideas.


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