A recent Article on education reveals that Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. In an era where job growth is likely to tilt towards high skilled jobs, Switzerland is doing something right. At the heart of our skilling challenges lies an education paradigm and system that were built in and for a different era. I have spent considerable time on the need for a shift in the Learning Paradigm. Has Switzerland made the shift?
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that can’t read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn – Alvin Tofler, Rethinking the Future.
As we all become life long learners, unlearning could be our biggest challenge. Our mental models prevent us from seeing the need for change. We are creatures of the only world we have individually known. Even if you are one hundred years old, the mental models established after humanities second Tipping Point dominate your thinking. They form our intuitions and belief systems.
This recent Article focuses on the failure of MBA programs to prepare leaders and innovators to cope with a fast-changing world: leaders that can put the long-term health of their company and customers first. Here is the bottom line straight from the article:
Far from empowering business, MBA education has fostered the sort of short-term, balance-sheet-oriented thinking that is threatening the economic competitiveness of the country as a whole. If you wonder why most businesses still think of shareholders as their main priority or treat skilled labor as a cost rather than an asset – or why 80 percent of CEOs surveyed in one study said they’d pass up making an investment that would fuel a decade’s worth of innovation if it meant they’d miss a quarter of earnings results – it’s because that’s exactly what they are being educated to do
This recent Article describes how Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google on the conviction that STEM expertise was the dominant piece of the capability profile – setting its hiring algorithms to look for computer science students with top grades from elite science universities. In 2013, they decided to test this hypothesis by analyzing the hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since their incorporation in 1998.
The World Economic Forum estimates 65 per cent of children today will end up in careers that don’t even exist yet.
“Individuals and companies that succeed in the future will be those who adopt the philosophy of lifelong learning,” says Nigel Heap, managing director of Hays UK and Ireland. “Businesses that facilitate the resources, tools and time to support learning will not only have employees who are more engaged, but their business will be better placed to face challenges and remain innovative.”
From the Future of Learning
I’ve attempted to link innovation and our well-being via a visual that I’ve shared previously in this forum. It allows us to envision our emerging future and leverage story telling techniques to describe it in ways that become actionable. One of the most critical aspects of this emerging future in my humble opinion is the future of learning and education.
Our education system must prepare individuals for the world that is, not the one that was. It must ensure that those educated embody the qualities and competencies essential to life in a society very different than our industrial past. Among them are: creativity, critical thinking, innovative thinking, curiosity, social intelligence, a collaborative spirit, adaptability, entrepreneurial spirit, connecting dots, and knowing how to ask the right questions. Our need for life-long learning and unlearning drives us to reimagine education and transform through combinatorial innovations that leverage AI, Mobile, Cloud, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Big Data, and more. Some of the facets of next generation education include:
Our exponential world puts increasing pressure on our capacity to innovate and the speed and quality of idea flow. This dynamic coupled with the speed at which automation is likely to occur brings our right brain characteristics front and center. Creativity, imagination, big picture vision, emotional and social intelligence, empathy, and other human characteristics are critical to navigating in this emerging future. As automation accelerates, these human traits become even more critical. In a recent report by Citi on Technology at Work, the authors point to our propensity for social interaction, communication, and empathy being something machines can never replace.
“The rhythm of technology is changing the rhythm of business, and we’re all going to need to adapt” – Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, Authors of Sense and Respond
Back in 2013, in a post on sense and respond systems, I talked about the drivers that would push organizations towards a sense and respond paradigm. There are no bigger drivers than volatility and uncertainty, and nearly four years since that post, that fact is becoming clearer. In a recent book by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, they elevate sense and respond to a position that is core to achieving an adaptive enterprise. They see feedback loops and a movement away from command and control as the enabling mechanisms that allow us to thrive in the digital age.
Management expert Gary Hamel summarizes the challenges we face as the structures of the industrial age collide with the digital age:
“Modern management is one of humanity’s most important inventions. But it was developed more than a century ago to maximize standardization, specialization, hierarchy, control, and shareholder interests. While that model delivered an immense contribution to global prosperity, the values driving our most powerful institutions are fundamentally at odds with those of this age – zero-sum thinking, profit-obsession, power, conformance, control, hierarchy, and obedience don’t stand a chance against community, interdependence, freedom, flexibility, transparency, meritocracy, and self-determination. It’s time to radically rethink how we mobilize people and organize resources to productive ends”.