4 Let’s start our journey

Brad C. Anderson

This textbook aspires to be a stepping stone in your path to developing your wisdom. In the following chapter, this textbook presents a more detailed overview of organizational wisdom.

Brace yourself. We rely on wisdom to help us navigate situations of complexity and ambiguity. Consequently, it defies a simple definition. Wisdom is not a single attribute but rather a collection of skills, perceptions, and attitudes. The three structures of wisdom (values, rationality, and power), however, will give us a guiding framework to understand this complex phenomenon.


In this chapter, you learned:

What wisdom is

  • The actions we define as wise depend on our perception of the social context in which the action occurs and personal and cultural attitudes.
  • The three structures of wisdom: (1) Values guide wise action, (2) Knowledge is required, but insufficient for wise action, (3) Wisdom is action-oriented

Whether we can teach wisdom

  • Wisdom itself cannot be taught because
    • It is impossible to emulate real-world complexity in the classroom.
    • We rely on wisdom when knowledge is insufficient, so who is to say what is “wise.”
    • Wisdom is subjective
    • People acquire wisdom over a lifetime of experience.
    • Wisdom is doing the right thing in the real world, not the classroom.

How to develop the attributes that lead to wisdom

  • You can develop the skills upon which wise people rely.
    • Learn the role values play in organizations and how they interact
    • Develop critical thinking skills and awareness that different people understand the world differently. Be willing to learn from others.
    • Understand how power operates in your organization so that you can act effectively


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Let's start our journey by Brad C. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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