The Four Elements of Digital Intelligence (DQ)

As we enter an age of work and life that is increasingly conducted using digital tools, it is appropriate that we once again recalibrate our concept of intelligence. It is here that the concept of digital intelligence (DQ) fits, not at the exclusion of IQ or EQ but as a logical addition to them.


Digital intelligence has four key elements. The first is to understand why we would want to use technology, its strengths and the opportunities to apply it to our advantage. The second is knowing our options, what technology is out there and the ability to choose the right tool for the job. The third is understanding how it works and having the ability to apply our digital tools in an effective way. Finally, we need to develop the judgement to know when technology should be used, when it is going to benefit what we are doing and when it is going to subtract.

Of these it is perhaps the fourth, judgement, which is the most important. Ability in itself is not enough, as it only gives you the how; judgement is something developed through a combination of ability and experience. It is for this reason that many people who are extremely competent with technology, including our kids, often fail to exercise judgement as to when it is appropriate to use it. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Ability combined with experience, and especially diverse experience, provides a much better basis for sound decision making than ability alone. Considered decisions require the ability to know and understand alternatives and this in turn requires diverse experience. It is probably not surprising that the average age of a judge in Australia’s High Court is close to 65 years old, considering they are making important decisions about how to apply the law – an area where we want people with both the right knowledge and the right experience.

Developing digital intelligence is about developing the knowledge and skills that will allow us to understand new technologies as they emerge, to identify the opportunities in them and manage the risks. Digital intelligence is transferrable, and it is as relevant in our personal lives as it is in our professional ones, just as IQ and EQ also cross those boundaries.

Image credit: via flickrCC

3D_front_200x200This is an extract from Simon’s new book ‘Analogosaurus: Avoiding Extinction in a World of Digital Business’ now at 20% off from July 15-22 on Kindle! Visit Amazon to purchase or learn more about this book.