What is pattern wisdom?


The DIKW pyramid is a common way to frame the continuum between data and wisdom. I'd add in an extra layer between knowledge and wisdom: intelligence. As I write we are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, so let me illustrate the pyramid using the number of reported cases per day in my home region, Geelong.

Data: Everyday, people get tested and the results of those tests get reported. Let's say for the sake of the illustration, that the number today was 10. This is the data.

Information: That data is packaged and communicated, so we have access to information. "Today there were 10 reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Geelong region.

Knowledge: Digesting that information, facilitates knowledge, so that I can know that the number of reported positive cases today was 10 people.

Intelligence: Integrating that knowledge into context creates an important transition from knowledge to intelligence. What does the number mean? What is the trend? How does it compare with other regions? What assumptions provided the basis for the information? Being able to contextualise the knowledge facilitates intelligence.

Wisdom: But beyond intelligence is wisdom. What implications does this intelligence have? How should we act and/or make decisions given this information and intelligence?

Pattern wisdom is therefore the application to life of intelligence about patterns.

I think of wisdom as a 'living craft'. As with any craft, at the end of the long road of discipline and practice is mastery. Mastery is the ultimate expression of freedom; a freedom that is born of discipline over time. Wisdom is the freedom not to be bound by simple rules, but a mastery of a domain that allows creativity. Wisdom is not to be confused with cleverness in the way we normally understand it, which can be ad hoc flashes of brilliance, but is a long, slow, winding, compounding cleverness in a particular direction. 

It is said of Monet, that when he painted he painted light. He chose not to see 'trees' or 'fields', but patterns of light. In The Matrix, Neo's enlightenment moment is when he chooses to see the matrix itself, the code, rather than the representation of it. 'Pattern knowledge and pattern intelligence' is about seeing and understanding patterns rather than being distracted by the things themselves. Pattern intelligence offers insight into how things fit together, about how and why things happen the way they do. Pattern wisdom is about applying that intelligence to the way we think, feel and act.

To be explored and developed further ....