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Structural Incompetence

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We all now hear regularly the common terms of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and EI (Emotional Intelligence), but what about OI (Organisational Intelligence)? What is this, I hear you say? I had an engaging discussion with a CEO a few months ago on just this. I referred to what I initially coined as ‘Structural Incompetence,’ which developed into an exciting conversation about how businesses could be supported to understand this more, what methodologies and approaches could help them reach their full maturity and potential. Structural Incompetence?

The past 12–18 months have been an exciting period, as more than ever, I have observed first-hand businesses struggling to find the stability, time, and space to both, make sense of and get to the bottom of the issues and problems that they face daily. In many cases, it’s not so much the problem they face ‘front and centre.’ The bigger problem is the one they don’t see or is initially identified. This prevents businesses from getting to the core of the issue and solving the actual problem; therefore, the symptoms continue. From my perspective, the real root of an organisation’s problems is not the systematic (what shows itself); it’s the ‘reoccurring unknown.’

Taking a systems point of view, not IT, human systems, the actual root cause of these recurrent problems is based on the structural foundations that the organisation is built upon. Whether it be: Work Design, People & Skills, Formal Management, Culture & Climate, Infrastructure & Technology, or Performance Measurement, in countless cases, many organisations are generally not ‘fit for a sustainable future’ due to their make-up and design – this being the ‘Structural Incompetence.’

Is OI the answer to our problems?

A lack of knowledge, know-how, and ability to effectively recognize the warning signs, performance indicators, and recurrent patterns and diagnose what’s happening across all organization dimensions should be the No1 focus… Through ‘collective intelligence’ organisations, their leaders, HR, OD&D, learning, etc.… can better understand the organisation as a ‘living thing’ and not a static object. Through the lenses of OI, we can start to build a complete picture of maturity levels through innovative intelligence at multiple levels (horizontals and verticals) of the organisation. OI provides the business-critical intelligence (data) needed to design/redesign a robust ‘corrective solution’ that builds stronger organisational/structural foundations. Only then will organisations stand on their own two feet and meet head-on the global challenges that they and others encounter at every corner.

As in Behavioural Science, organisations need to operate more at the ‘Unconscious Competence’ level and less so at the ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ level…

What’s next?

Keep an eye out for more about ‘Organisational Intelligence’ in a series of follow-up articles. The next will delve deeper into the practical detail of ‘Organisational Intelligence’ (OI).


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