Institutional Intelligence: the capacity to work effectively within organizations. It involves understanding how institutions work and knowing how best to foster the capacity of the institution to fulfil its organizational purpose.
It means recognizing that institutions are essential for human flourishing without sentimentalizing them. Institutions have a hard edge; no doubt. But institutional intelligence means knowing that we can and must “tend” them, to use James K.A.Smith’s term – attend to how they work, how they flourish and how we, as individuals, can recognize our contribution to their flourishing.
It also means recognizing that none of us will fulfill our individuals vocations or callings without attending to the place that we have in partnership with others in and through institutions. An artist learns to work with a local art gallery. A pastor comes to an appreciation of the institutional character of congregational life. A doctor learns comes to an understanding of how hospitals work. That is, they develop institutional intelligence – the kind of intelligence that is essential to the stewardship of their work.
Seven Different Capacities
What is proposed here is that institutional intelligence involves seven different capacities – intellectual capacities that translate into effective behavior within organizations.