Enhancing the different types of intelligence, and their potential use in the workplace. By Beth Wood
The publication of Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind in 1983 and Thomas Armstrong’s Seven Kinds of Smart in 1993, has generated a lot of interest in Multiple Intelligences (MI).
Given that each of us is a unique blend of intelligences and that it is possible for us to foster each of them to a higher degree, MI has come to the attention of organisations.
Gardner originally identified seven intelligences and has since added two to the list. They are:
- Verbal/Linguistic: the effective use of the spoken and written word. Seen in authors, poets, playwrights, librarians, journalists, politicians, motivational speakers and comedians. Can be further developed by joining a debating club, playing word games.
- Logical/Mathematical: expertise in figures and logic. People with strength in this intelligence enjoy sequencing, classifying, developing criteria, analysing, inferring, predicting and hypothesising. It is strong in mathematicians, economists, scientists, computer programmers and stockbrokers. It can be developed by focusing on mathematical problems, becoming a regular reader of the business pages in newspapers or visiting museums and science centres.
- Visual/Spatial: the ability to perceive the visual world accurately and to orient yourself appropriately, as well as having a heightened perception of color, line and form. Artists, architects, sculptors, pilots, seamen, photographers, engineers and chess players display high levels of this intelligence. It can be developed by taking on a landscaping project or working on visual puzzles.
- Body/Kinaesthetic: expertise in using the body to express ideas and the hands to produce or transform. It is strong in actors, dancers, surgeons, farmers, carpenters, mechanics and athletes. Learning a craft, being coached in a new sport or enrolling in a “do it yourself” program will strengthen this intelligence.
- Musical/Rhythmic: the capacity to perceive, discriminate, transform and express musical form. This intelligence is highly developed in musicians, disc jockeys, sound technicians and composers. Listening to a variety of musical genres, joining a singing group and becoming conscious of the music played around you will enhance this intelligence.
- Interpersonal: sensitivity to other people and the ability to respond to their feelings effectively. A high degree of this intelligence is essential in caring professions: teaching, nursing and counselling. Sales people, travel agents, politicians and leaders need it. Joining a service club, attending an interpersonal skills course or building a greater network of friends and colleagues are ways of strengthening this intelligence.
- Intrapersonal: understanding your strengths and limitations and a capacity for self-discipline. Psychologists, clergy, philosophers and self-employed people often are strong in this intelligence. Keeping a diary, developing reflecting skills or learning meditation are ways of strengthening it.
The two more recently added intelligences are the Naturalistic Intelligence, which focuses on the recognition and nurturing of flora and fauna and the Existentialist Intelligence, which is concerned with the meaning of life.
Veterinarians, gardeners, zoologists and park rangers display high levels of naturalistic intelligence. To foster this intelligence you could join a gardening club, subscribe to a natural history magazine or get involved in conservation.
The existentialist intelligence seems really to be a variant on Intrapersonal Intelligence.
Organisations have received Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence with interest as they have come to realise that often their success depends on how people in the workplace handle themselves and others. Emotional Intelligence involves developing emotional competence across two areas: personal competence (self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation); and social competence (empathy and social skills). These relate directly to Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences.
By using Gardner’s MI framework, workplaces will be able to develop further the synergistic interaction of every person’s talents across the whole range of intelligences rather than just the Inter and Intrapersonal.
Imagine an organisation in which individuals have made a career choice based on their preferred intelligences. There, indeed, is the opportunity to develop an intelligent organisation.
How not to
How not to manage a crisis
Few companies have equalled the Japanese food company Snow Brand in the art of crisis management. In the 1950s, 1900 schoolchildren fell ill from Snow Brand’s powdered milk. A brave Snow Brand executive declared to a roomful of journalists that there was no risk whatsoever and downed a glass of milk, just to expel any concerns. Which was not all he expelled when he rushed to a bathroom shortly afterwards.
This year, Snow Brand was at it again, with another food scare. This time, it was more skilled at crisis management. For one thing, the company’s besieged boss found just the right way to gain public sympathy by leaving a press conference declaring: “I haven’t slept at all in the past week.” Perhaps this was in solidarity with the unfortunate consumers who spent many sleepless nights after consuming Snow Brand products.
The latest crisis, due to factory workers not cleaning pipes for weeks, made 14,700 people ill and put 180 people in hospital. Most of the hospitalised were able to get a good night’s sleep.
How not to use consultants
A group of consultants got together to tell their best (true) stories about management consultants. One consultant, the manager who employed him said, did an excellent job. He completed his tasks on time, he achieved his key performance targets, and he was well liked. But, just before he was to finish, he came and told the manager that he could not finish the job. “Why?” asked the manager. “Well, I’ve violated my parole, and I won’t be around for a while.”
Then there was the case of the invisible manager. A consultant came to the offices of a Victorian utility asking for payment of overdue invoices. This was greeted with a mixture of confusion and irritation, considering no one knew anything about it. Yet the consultant had correct invoices and records of work done signed on the office letterhead.
Investigation revealed that a mystery person had set himself up in the utility’s offices and employed the consultant to do the job. In the circumstances, it seemed best to pay the consultant. The phantom manager was never found.
How not to communicate
Tesco are in online grocery sales, despite the argument from some that they are cannibalising their customers.
– Jacob Jensen, New York management consultancy Roland Berger & Partners
The bottom line is nothing less than leveraging product development into actual revenue and satisfied customers.
– Ken Presti, under the heading
“Meet IDC’s expert analysts” on the consultancy’s Web site
How not to be logical
When announcing an “anti-takeover” policy, an insurance company said corporations could buy insurance for a cost of $22,500 per $1 million of cover. The policy was marketed as a way of reducing costs associated with lawyers, accountants, and so on, when defending against a hostile bid, so preserving shareholder value.
But such mechanisms are really aimed at protecting management jobs by fending off bids. Takeovers are market forces that push managers to act in the best interests of shareholders. Insurance could influence managers to work in their own interests, thereby actually destroying shareholder value in the company.
The slithershanks file
The subject of innovation fascinates Slithershanks. Mainly because it sounds like a really good way to get research and development funding without having to do any research and development. It can be used to justify anything from a drinking binge to total incompetence; and if anyone criticises, you just refer them to Gary Hamel’s Leading the Revolution:
“Business concept innovation is, after all, the search for temporary monopolies. While revolutionary business concepts tend to undermine entrenched monopolies, a business concept with strong monopolistic tendencies can often withstand a prolonged assault from would-be rivals before crumbling. In general, the stronger the monopoly, the greater the innovation necessary to unseat the incumbent. In this sense, business concept innovation is the quest for strategies that are, insofar as possible, impervious to further bouts of business concept innovation.”
Got that? Slithershanks most certainly had, although he wasn’t too sure what “it” was.