intelligence hierarchy

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Intelligence can be categorized in levels that are useful to understanding its formation and application. Russell L. Ackoff defined the levels of intelligence as data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. The construct presented here adds one level, a level devoid of intelligence, noise.

Progression of levels of intelligence:

  • noise
  • data
  • information
  • knowledge
  • understanding
  • wisdom

Effective strategic management requires an awareness of the levels of intelligence and their role in business organization management. For example, knowledge, or know-how, is needed to do work. Understanding, knowing why work is done, is needed to make work more efficient. Wisdom is needed to make effective decisions, especially strategic decisions.

There is also a correlation between the progression of economic value and the Progression of Valuable Intelligence (see below). More intelligence is required to produce progressively more valuable offerings.

Note: In Pine & Gilmore (1999, pp. 188-189) they speak of both echelons (hierarchy) of valuable intelligence and echelons of economic value -- aligning the levels of economic offerings of the Progression of Economic Value with levels of intelligence called the Progression of Valuable Intelligence. The levels of valuable intelligence presented here include one more level than the Pine & Gilmore construct.