In the last 10 years, research has emerged to focus on organization intelligence (OrgIQ). One of the first to focus on the emerging field was management consultant Karl Albrecht in 2003. His study proposed that “organizational intelligence is the capacity of an organization to mobilize all of its brain power, and focus that brain power on achieving the mission.”
In my research, I became intrigued with this idea, and came to see that we might want to help learning leaders shift from an exclusive focus on the growth and intelligence of individuals to more emphasis on the organization’s intelligence. Said another way, learning leaders need to focus on understanding how to achieve organizational success.
When we focus on organizations and culture, we must look at both individuals and collective culture. The organization consists of individuals who bring their own intelligence, values and norms to the collective. We know that people can learn and develop in ways that support organizational success. But can an organization get collectively smarter? Can organization cultures change and grow? Based on early research and my doctoral work, I believe they can become smarter, and that developing OrgIQ can impact business outcomes while providing employees an opportunity to grow and develop.
We are in the early days of understanding what OrgIQ is and how it impacts people and organizations. In my post-doctoral work I have determined there is a valid framework that allows us to see a continuum of OrgIQ, which facilitates its study.
To this end, I have begun to look for a way to make the concept of OrgIQ accessible in the form of such a framework. To start, I collected case studies of organizations that have remained industry leaders over time by delivering shareholder value and continuing to top lists reflecting robust employee engagement. My research is exploratory, but I believe it offers a basis for further research on OrgIQ — an aspect of culture that may help organizations succeed over time, even as individuals come and go.
The Hollis OrgIQ Continuum goes like this: At the top, think Mensa or genius; this is a level of OrgIQ that allows for high levels of effectiveness. The OrgIQ is greater than the sum of the parts, meaning it transcends the individual. Intelligence has been institutionalized and codified. The capacity for organizational learning is seen as infinite, the organization can reinvent itself as needed and the role of the employee is central to its values and mission.
Brilliant is the next point on the continuum. In brilliant organizations processes for visioning are institutionalized; they’re envisioning markets that don’t already exist.
Sharp organizations are quick and on the money when they want to be. These companies anticipate market force and prepare themselves.
Average organizations get the job done but are not necessarily able to predict the future or adapt quickly. They will continue to work and produce steady results in spite of themselves.
At the fifth point on the continuum is slow, meaning mediocre. It is where complacency lives. These organizations may be on life support. They exist, but are not thriving.
At the final point are primitive organizations. They do not use individual or collective intelligence well and tend to falter and miss their goals. Organizations at this level are fragmented, lack clarity and focus, and simply do what they can to survive.
Moving toward genius is the goal, but most organizations will not be able to jump far from where they are. In my early research, it seems that one particular jump on the continuum is quite possible, however, and can make a big difference: moving from average to sharp. This is what I call the zone of opportunity.
The overarching culture will, of course, impact an organization’s ability to change itself, with respect to OrgIQ or anything. Therefore, culture and how it incorporates organizational intelligence is necessary for CLOs to understand. Where will you find your organization on the continuum?
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