A military officer in a combat zone detects an approaching enemy attack. He immediately searches his mental database to find a similar situation he has encountered previously, either in battle or in training. He remembers a somewhat similar situation and, regardless of the limited points of similarity, he automatically makes the prior situation fit his current one. He immediately acts on the answer he has applied before—but, unfortunately, the answer is wrong, and disastrous results occur.
This thinking process is the antithesis of what the military wants or needs today. Modern military leaders need to know when it is time for consolidation and when it is time for innovation. They need to know when it is time for discipline, conformity, tenacity, and action and when it is time for reflection, questioning, and independent thought. What needs to be instilled in military leaders is the good judgment to determine which kind of “intelligence” is required in any given situation.
The same challenge exists for leaders within any business organization. Every leader has the innate potential of innovative intelligence, the proof being that most children are able to develop new and creative ideas. The challenge for leaders is to access and put to organizational use the innovative intelligence they previously were able to access as children.
We define innovative intelligence as the human cognitive ability to look at problems or opportunities ...