Where is wisdom coming alive? How can we best assess the level of wisdom of an individual, a group, an organization, an institution, a nation or the world? Developing a reliable wisdom index can provide visibility of where wisdom is thriving and where it is lacking—based on objective measures. Various Individuals or groups striving to increase their wisdom could use the index to assess their current status, identify specific areas for improvement, and measure progress along the journey toward wisdom.
Several existing indices designed to measure positive outcomes provide a range of useful models we can learn from in designing a wisdom index. These include the:
- Global Peace Index —measures the relative position of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness,
- Human Development Index — a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices used to rank countries into four tiers of human development,
- Happy Planet Index — an index of human well-being and environmental impact weighted to give progressively higher scores to nations with lower ecological footprints,
- Environmental Performance Index — a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a state’s policies,
- Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® — daily assessment of U.S. residents’ health and well-being,
- Global Innovation Index — recognizes the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity and acknowledges the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation that is applicable to both developed and emerging economies,
- Democracy Index — measures the state of democracy in 167 countries,
- Gross national happiness —measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than the economic indicator of gross domestic product,
- Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recognizes U.S. organizations in the business, health care, education, and nonprofit sectors for performance excellence, and
- this list of freedom indices.
A useful assessment instrument and index will:
- Accurately reflect a well-conceived definition of wisdom,
- Rely on observations, data, and measurements that can be reliably obtained,
- Be easy to use,
- Provide valid, reliable, and repeatable results,
- Provide results that are easy to interpret,
- Be perceived as providing an accurate assessment of wisdom,
- Provide a wisdom model that encourages learning how to increase wisdom,
- Identify specific areas for improvement so that the assessed organization can use the assessment results to guide their improvement efforts, and
- Be freely available.
Developing an index will begin by choosing a definition of wisdom. Many have been suggested, and several useful definitions are collected in the Wikiversity course on wisdom.
Next the definition of wisdom needs to be translated into operational terms—observable and measurable behaviors. A few instruments have been developed for assessing the wisdom of a particular individual. These include:
- The Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale developed by Monika Ardelt,
- The eight neural pillars of wisdom defined by Stephen Hall in his book Wisdom: from Philosophy to neuroscience, and
- The wisdom assessment form developed for the Wikiversity Wisdom course.
New instruments for assessing organizational wisdom need to be developed. These may be based on measures of well-being of members and stakeholders and might also consider environment, inputs, and results of the organization as a whole.
After the assessment instrument is designed it needs to be validated, calibrated, and then put into use.
What are your thoughts on this proposal? Would such an index help bring wisdom to life? What should the design of the index include? How can we best create, apply, and report results from such an index? How would you like to contribute to this project?