How Smart Are You?
Alfred Binet, theFrench psychologist who, in the early 1900's, invented the first usable cognitive intelligence test, initially characterized an intelligent person as having good sense, practical sense or initiative; resulting in the ability to adapt one's self to their circumstances.
In the early nineties, Daniel Goleman articulated concepts around Emotional Intelligence, challenging the widely held notion that IQ was the central human capacity contributing to success in life and at work. He proposed that our ability to know our emotional states, and read the emotional states of others and adjust appropriately, is the prime factor for success at work and in life.

Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist and professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard says, 'Human intellectual competence must entail a set of problem solving skills - enabling the individual to resolve genuine problems or difficulties that he or she encounters and, when appropriate, to create an effective product - and must also entail the potential for finding or creating problems - and thereby laying the groundwork for the acquisition of new knowledge".

And, now there is Innovation Intelligence: the ability to think in new and creative ways. Championed by Claude Legrand and David Weiss, in their book Innovative Intelligence, we are introduced to how dismal the innovative intelligence is in most organizations and how companies can get better at mining the creativity of teams and whole organizations.

I'm intrigued by the forces that Le Grand and Weiss report block Innovation Intelligence at work, because they appear to be the same set of barriers that prevent teams and organizations from being able to embrace meaningful change. Here are a few barriers that I see plaguing the need for innovation and the drive to implement change initiatives.
  • The love/hate relationship people have with new ideas. People say they want something new, but when push comes to shove, they love, and fiercely protect, the status quo. Often there is an almost, 'not on my watch' mentality when it comes to actually stepping out of the box - the box is just too darn comfortable.
  • The confusion between doing things well - being effective and efficient - and doing new things. Humans gravitate towards what they know; they want to 'fix-up' what they already know how to do, rather than learn something new...especially if the new required thinking and/or behaviours scare them.
  • People don't really know how to innovate, to think differently, to get out of their old patterns and perspectives and approach a problem or challenge with 'new eyes'. We can learn to innovate and change...really we can. What is required to change and innovate can be taught, replicated and can become a company's best practices.
  • 'Different' is messy. Often the leadership of the organization just doesn't want the mess that new ideas and their potential failures might bring. Many leaders hold themselves and their teams to short term goals, not long term efforts - the kind of pursuits that real innovation and change require.
  • To innovate or change is WORK.... hard work. It takes time and requires accountability; the kind of accountability that most leaders don't know how (or are unwilling) to exercise.

So, how intelligent are you? Or better put, in what way are you intelligent? And, what kind of intelligence does your career or life need right now? If you need to further develop your IQ skills, educate yourself - as most IQ tests are more a test of memory than anything. If you want to investigate your Innovative Intelligence, take a look at Legrand and Weiss's new book.

And remember, if you want to work on your change intelligence can change it, we can help!

June 2012