wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
search bar left
search bar right

Howard Gardner (1943- )Howard Gardner


American expert in educational psychology and professor at Harvard University (pictured right), famous for his idea of “multiple intelligences” (see below).


Key books

Frames of Mind (1983)

Human intelligence isn’t just IQ.

It has several different facets (“multiple intelligences” or “frames of mind”) that all need to be developed to maximize people’s potential.

This is known as “MI theory” or the theory of multiple intelligences”.

These intelligences are:


1. Linguistic intelligence

Oral and communication skills.


2. Musical intelligence

Performing, composing and appreciating music.


3. Logical-mathematical intelligence

Logical and analytical thinking normally associated with science and mathematics.


4. Spatial intelligence

Artistic and navigational skills.


5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence

Athleticism and manual dexterity e.g. in sewing.


6. Interpersonal intelligence

- understanding people and working well with them.


7. Intrapersonal intelligence

Understanding yourself and your feelings, fears and motives.


Everyone has all these intelligences but is unique, performing differently in each one because of different experiences, abilities and motivations.

The intelligences are also amoral i.e. their moral effect depends on how they’re used and taught.

Education should be tailored to each person’s needs and intelligences, using different teaching methods and media (particularly computers).


Key quote on intelligence

An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.


Extraordinary Minds (1997)


Extraordinary performers do three things brilliantly:


1. Reflecting

Continuous reflecting, and learning from experience -

  • successes, mistakes and failures. 
  • discussion with others. 
  • the acquisition of new knowledge and relationships.


2. Leveraging

Using your strengths (and ignoring your weaknesses) to achieve challenging and visionary aims through:

  • continuous improvement.
  • the pursuit of excellence.


3. Framing

Continuously converting experiences into positive action (i.e. seeing learning as an opportunity).


Creativity must be used well and humanely (“humane creativity”).


Key quote on success

Discover your difference...and make the most of it.


Key quote on learning

Critical is the capacity to see not so much the bright side of a setback as the learning opportunity it offers.


Intelligence Reframed (1999)

Gardner adds another intelligence: “naturalist intelligence” (recognizing and learning from nature and the environment).

He also considers other possibilities:


1. Existential intelligence

Exploring and understanding the nature of existence (particularly religious and spiritual issues).

This might (less accurately) be called “spiritual intelligence”.


2. Moral intelligence

Knowing what is right and wrong (particularly relating to “the sanctity of life”).


Key quotes on society and ethics

We must figure out how intelligence and morality can work together to create a world in which a great variety of people will want to live.



Five Minds for the Future (2006)

Five minds are necessary to make the most of the future and radical changes caused by globalization and science and technology:


1. The Disciplinary Mind

Mastering an academic discipline, craft or profession.


2. The Synthesizing Mind

Integrating different areas of knowledge to solve problems.


3. The Creating Mind

Creating new ideas and solutions by:

  • new ways of thinking.
  • asking “unfamiliar questions”.


4. The Respectful Mind

Respecting and valuing people’s differences.


5. The Ethical Mind

  • doing what’s right.
  • being responsible for yourself and others.


Key quotes on leadership and management

Managers and leaders...must continue perennially to develop all five kinds of minds in themselves and – of course - in those for whom they bear responsibility.


 Changing Minds (2006)

There are seven ways (“levers”) to significantly change your own and other people’s minds:


1`. Reason

Weighing up the facts and making a logical argument.


2. Research

Finding facts.


3. Resonance 

Relating to people spiritually and emotionally through trust and self-knowledge.


4. Representational redescriptions

Presenting the same idea in different ways to use in different intelligences.


5. Resources and rewards

Giving and refusing money and other rewards.


6. Real world events

Exploiting external opportunities and threats.


7. Resistances

Challenging and changing established assumptions and beliefs.


To maximize your influence, you must find the most effective combination of these seven factors.


Key quote on learning

The more of an individual’s intelligences you can appeal to when making an argument, the more likely you are to change a person’s mind, and the more minds you are likely to change.


Key quote on leadership 

Leaders almost by definition are people who change minds.

Free Newsletter
Enter your name and e-mail address to receive our free newsletter with analysis of business issues and new business books