Contextual Intelligence – why we need to use it and work on it

intelligenceIn Business, the era of ‘do it this one way and you will be right’ has long since past. For many years now, people involved in business have known that there is no standard one best way. (Sorry, Taylor – Father of Scientific Management and Ford – who ran with SM principles and in-turn, created Fordism, we have moved on). Instead, modern business practice needs to focus on customising and adapting existent solutions for their people and processes to fit their purpose in order to make a profit.

With the advent of globalisation and increased trade between countries came interactions with people of different cultures having different ways of completing tasks at work.  Resultant misunderstandings and even offence and conflict gave rise to much research on intercultural communication, and international business.

The article below from the Harvard Busines Review is on contextual intelligence. While it focuses primarily on moving business practice between cultures and making adaptations so we can successfully move business across borders and  through the barriers that brings, I think we should enlarge our thinking on how contextual intelligence can benefit our businesses and lives as a whole.

A more holistic view of contextual intelligence is taking the sum of your experiences, knowledge, and education and then before making any decisions, deliberately factoring in the situation you currently face.

The best solution in the world simply will not work unless it is appropriate for your circumstances. For example: There might be a brilliant customer management system that has every bell and whistle you could think of and that can cater for an unending amount of clients. “Wow, you think, That’s great!”  However, if the software costs thousands to implement and maintain annually then it most probably is out of the average small business owner’s reach. Therefore, it is not a good solution for your business at the present time.

Instead, if we use the basis of our contextual intelligence to seek and evaluate information before making decisions, the emergent solutions will have a much better fit for our needs.  When our solutions are well thought out before implementation they cost us less in the long term.  Below is another couple of links of how we can apply contextual intelligence to our marketing environment and to our leadership.

Contextual Intelligence – Harvard Business Review.

Contextual Intelligence  for leadership – Leadership Review 

Contextual Intelligence and Flexibility -understanding today’s marketing environment -Journal of Marketing Practice

I would love to hear your thoughts about transferring experience into new situations 🙂