Worth A Look: Harold Wilensky

Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Ethics, Methods & Process
Full Story Online
Full Story Online

This interview is part of the Institute's “Conversations with History” series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

In this landmark work, the culmination of thirty years of systematic, comprehensive comparison of nineteen rich democracies, Wilensky answers two basic questions: What is distinctly modern about modern societies? In what ways are they becoming alike, and how do variations in types of political economy shape system performance? The book is being hailed as “a monumental work,” “an instant classic,” “a truly amazing accomplishment.”

  1. Background … influence of parents … impact of the Depression … importance of education … impact of World War II … interest in understanding society … education
  2. Working with Labor Unions … the labor movement … first research jobs
  3. Being a Social Scientist … graduate school at Chicago … skills … temperament … defining the problem so that it can be disconfirmed
  4. Research Methods … importance of interdisciplinary study … follow the problem … importance of comparative studies … qualitative versus quantitative research
  5. Comparing Rich Democracies: Theory … defining modernity and social change … convergence theory … mass society theory
  6. Comparing Rich Democracies: Examples … political economy structures … tax revolts … mayhem index
  7. Conclusion … advice for students

Review: Organizational Intelligence (Knowledge and Policy in Government and Industry)

5 Star, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Information Operations, Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Foundation Work, April 2, 2008

Harold L. Wilensky

UPDATED 28 March 2014 to add a few key points.

This gem is so valuable to me that when I could not find a copy for sale (this was way back before Amazon made it easy), I made a personal copy.

This is a foundation work for organizational intelligence, which now includes four converging streams: Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), Collective Intelligence, Peace Intelligence, and Commercial Intelligence.

I would like very much to see this re-published, and would be glad to contribute a preface from a commercial point of view while Mark Tovey, editor of the forthcoming book on Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace, does the academic preface.

This is a “must have” reference for anyone thinking about group IQ, smart mobs, smart nations, smart corporations, etcetera.

A few key points, with many others not itemized:

01 Explores how knowledge shapes (or does not shape) policy in both governent and industry

02 Information converted into intelligence integrates clear, timely, reliable, valid, adequate, and wide-ranging.

03 Intelligence failures stem in part from hierarchy (which conceals and misinterprets), specialization, rivalry, and other institutional dysfuntionalities.

04 There remains a great shortage of generalists able to select, discriminate, and integrate.

05 Information technology elevates the hard variables, represses the soft variables

06 Those at the top are out of touch; good judgment is rare, decisions are not fully informed nor deliberative.

The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
Business Blindspots: Replacing Your Company's Entrenched and Outdated Myths, Beliefs and Assumptions With the Realities of Today's Markets
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Graphic: The Four Quadrants of Knowledge

Citizen-Centered, Collection, ICT-IT, Innovation, Processing, Strategy-Holistic Coherence
The Original
The Original

This was inspired by Harold Wilenski's book, Organizational Intelligence (Knowledge and Policy in Government and Industry), and Robert Steele's growing awareness that what passes for “Knowledge Management” is nothing more than internal data mining.  Augmented by an understanding of collaboration networks and by the growing but still immature field of commercial intelligence, the chart took shape rather quickly.

Not anticipated, but now consistent with both the strategic direction of the Earth Intelligence Network, and the reality of how cell phones rather than laptops are the device of choice for the poor, was the seminal role of the cell phone as the device of choice for achieving organizational intelligence.

It can be useful placed side by side with Nova Spivak's Meta-Web illustration to see a convergence of the technical-centered (Spivak) and the human-centered (Steele).