Inquiry & Learning for Change

Characteristics of the Wise Organization

Some thoughts about what makes an organization wise…

  • Be clear about your values, purposes, principles, & vision
  • Know what’s in your heart
  • Know what you do
  • Be authentic
  • Live in abundance and possibility, not scarcity
  • Continually seek new purposes
  • Set clear intentions & goals; engage 100% (not 90%, not 110%
  • Learn from the past, be aware of the present, create the future
  • Understand open systems; understand systems; understand deep system architecture
  • Slow down, create space, slack: be purposefully inefficient
  • Deliberately emerge new structures to enact new purposes contingently
  • Be responsive, not reactive; better yet, lead from deep systemic analysis
  • Understand and enact creative destruction (be willing to let go of what you do well, so you can find the next thing to do better)
  • Be highly networked (internally and externally)
  • Focus on network collaboration and enhancement, not on competitiveness
  • Increase bandwidth & airtime (increase # and diversity of sources of concurrent idea generation, amount of time for each source to contribute; use few linear & sequential processes; network)
  • Transcend boundaries (apparent paradox of strong personal boundaries and weak organizational boundaries; blur the distinction of who is “in” the organization)
  • Connect to (interconnect with) community
  • Seek to build community; strengthen social networks among organizations and among community members
  • Focus on ecological and economic sustainability
  • Create social justice and equity
  • Be public, transparent
  • Be healthy; support healthy staff
  • Manage knowledge & meaning making, not information (create space at the center of your work for substantive “meta-logues” (Bateson) & capture the results)
  • Build knowledge management system architecture to mirror and then expand the knowledge creation and meaning making of your networks
  • Target resources strategically
  • Build simple routine self-monitoring systems for basic functions so most of your organizational energy can be spent on non-routine work

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