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Inside King Solomon’s head: from information comes wisdom

01 Sep 08

King Solomon said wisdom is the principle thing; therefore, getting wisdom is the getting of all understanding. But how can we achieve wisdom in a world of ever-increasing information overload? As my career has developed and responsibilities have changed, I have often pondered how we as individuals turn information into productive knowledge and wisdom. Anyone who has been given a company induction manual or a product data sheet to read knows that the information itself is only the foundation; it is nothing without education, critical thinking and experience. If information is king and knowledge is power, then wisdom is its appropriate use.

While the concept of wisdom can seem esoteric, it is made pertinent by its absence from today’s business world. Supplying enough relevant information to individuals, partners, clients and prospects is merely the crucial beginning. The key is to bring this information to the fore with education and create a self-contained entity. Empowering our employees, partners and clients will directly benefit individuals and companies to meet their goals. 

In order to understand how we can transform information overflow into wisdom, we need to explore the journey. It starts with an idea, which creates perceptions and actions that are applied to every idea throughout its lifecycle. The challenge we face today is we are deluged with more information and ideas than ever before; in a single day we are required to process more information than our grandparents did in a lifetime. And these ideas trigger our actions, but we only have a finite number of things we can do in a day, a week, a month, a year. So how do we decide what information is important and what action it requires?

The second step is to educate oneself and put information to use. Education unlocks information by giving you the skills to think critically and formulate efficient ideas based on reason. Without consciously engaging in education, one just creates a black hole– an infinite repository where data remains untapped and further contributing to the problem of information overload.

These ideas, information and education lead to knowledge, where one can truly state the sum of what was learned, perceived and discovered. This is a pretty extraordinary accomplishment for most of us, if you think about it.

The third step sees knowledge as one of the key factors in our journey to wisdom. Christopher Columbus led multiple voyages throughout his life and, therefore, gained extraordinary knowledge on travel, cultures, new adventures and situations. Not to mention the skill and knowledge needed to guide and captain a ship on the open seas.

Where is all this information about King Solomon and Christopher Columbus heading? It leads us to the last and final step – wisdom! It’s the part that sees the transformation of knowledge and turns it into productive output. It was this wisdom that led King Solomon to be acknowledged as the wisest person on earth and is the reason why Christopher Columbus still lives on as one of the world’s greatest explorers.

All this even applies to vendors working with the channel, because wisdom is not bred by mere access to your company information. Continual education and genuine engagement is critical. In this age of mass-information it’s never been more important to directly help people, through engagement, to translate information into knowledge and then wisdom – which means you can’t impart knowledge by email! So get out there and talk to people about how you can help them utilise information to empower their productivity.

The notion of information needing to be transformed into wisdom is especially relevant for the security space. As sheer information volume has burgeoned, businesses that have tried to lock down their information have been left flailing because of the rate of production. The more intelligent (or wise, if you’re using my terminology) approach is to examine the information in question, determine its value to the company as knowledge and then apply the appropriate policies and procedures. In order to manage information at risk, it must be known and understood and in doing that, businesses can leverage their information for enhanced growth and competitiveness. 

I leave you with the following:

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something – Plato.