collective wisdom
collective wisdom bookforeword
collective wisdom book

From the Foreword, by Peter Senge:

Few words have a longer historical association with leadership than wisdom, and few have less credibility in that association today.

What has happened?

First, it seems that we have lost our consensual definition of what wisdom actually is. In earlier eras, when elders had revered places in community, we had a way of understanding wisdom through example. The elders grounded us in appreciating the importance of perspective, in seeing things from multiple points of view, in considering what the past could teach us about the future, and in reminding us that many things we might think were our own unique problems had in fact been faced by others before and we should meditate on what we could learn from that.

Second, in an era that has little deep concern about the future, wisdom has little functional value. For wisdom has always been concerned with balancing the short term and the long term—of seeing possible longer-term consequences of our actions in and for the future.

But for most of us most of the time, the future does not really exist. Indeed, an important feature of the modern era has been the marginalization of the future. The future has become an abstraction rather than a reality with which we are emotionally connected. An economist’s prediction. A futurist’s
fantasy images. A few more technological gadgets. Something that will come someday but is of little importance in shaping the decisions we make today. Spend now, pay later. Get the stock price as high as possible so that your public stock offering brings in as much money as possible. Live for the moment. The future will take care of itself. The end of history (and, by implication, the end of the future).

for the full text, download the pdf (116k)

table of contents
use of terms
key concepts
collective wisdom book
collective wisdom book
collective wisdom book
home about the book about the authors acknowledgements excerpts reflections collective wisdom in action