In today’s organizations, the need for practical wisdom capabilities is acute, because change and complexity make many routines or ‘best practice’ approaches ineffective in bringing about well-being, purposeful action and strong performance in organizations, let alone a healthy planet. At many levels, practices and business models need be re-invented to achieve those outcomes.
As frustrating as such complex challenges can be, they also point to available solutions: Leaders and groups can become more wise, ready to craft answers. With systematic development of practical wisdom capabilities such as strong deliberative thinking and decision-making skills, methods for tapping into group intelligence, relational responsiveness, and adaptive action praxis for effective action in complex and uncertain situations, you and your organization can function as a wise force in the world.
Rooted in Aristotle’s philosophy, practical wisdom (phronesis) describes wisdom relevant to practical action, implying both good judgement and excellence of character and habits. This capability is most needed in leaders, groups, and organizations when facing challenges without easy answers. The presence of practical wisdom becomes tangible in the conduct of people, context-sensitive desicion-making and in the results of actions: They bring about “human flourishing”, both individually and collectively. In the 21st century, it becomes important to add: “And a healthy planet to sustain this human flourishing.”
Phronesis (practical wisdom) is differentiated from the two other human ‘excellences’ Aristotle addresses:
· Techne, a term encompassing discipline-specific skills, technical knowledge and know-how
· Episteme, abstract thinking and scientific insight.
Phronesis often draws on both of the above excellence domains, integrating them into decision-making processes and when moving into action.