Management Magazine
Special Report

Education mishaps and the need for creativity

In a world where change is rapid, and technology is altering every known profession and industry, survival has forced companies to seek individuals who can and will be able to innovate and create solutions, that ensure they survive despite fierce competition.

BY EDWIN MOINDI

Martin works for a multinational in a thriving city in Africa. He has done so for the last 10 years. Recently, he went back to university to gain a second master’s degree. He has had to remain competitive in a market place where graduates straight from college already have MBAs. The quality of qualifications for employers is rising. It is not what it was 30 years ago, when a diploma would have guaranteed one a management trainee position. It is common to hear of PHDs and MBAs who have been looking for jobs for years. There is a growing understanding that they are no longer prized by employers.

Recruiters are finding that graduates do not have the skills they need. They have good memory, but little ability. They also lack domain knowledge is areas relevant to the employers, and little can be said of their communication and confidence levels, due to lack of experience.

Dr Ken Robinson terms this a human resource crisis. An aging factory system, two centuries old, which has been churning well educated conformists into the market place. It will hobble on until it reaches critical mass and fails. The result, more educational institutions but less creative people.

The need for creativity

Here is where we differentiate our system of education and the need for creativity. The world is in dire need of creativity. Children are born creative, and then we take them to school and proceed to cut away every ounce of creativity from them, creating uninspired dull conformists. Walk into any classroom in the world and notice bored young people forced to do what uninspired, underpaid teachers tell them to.

When Phillip II wanted his son to learn, he sent him to Aristotle, who tutored him greatly, not curtailing him but opening his mind to the infinite possibility of knowledge. Aristotle was a facilitator. Can you claim the same happens in schools?

The education system, as we know it, was an invention of the Prussian empire to create conformists ready to serve the empire without question. Every person was the same, uniformed, orderly unthinking. It served well as the wood to fire the Industrial revolution of the 19th and early 20th century. Without a doubt it was shipped to the colonies, as the tool to civilize the “savages”.

The 21st century is unlike the past. Information and knowledge has been democratized. This means that you can have access to information that once only sat in the vaults of great universities like Harvard and Oxford. Even better, new knowledge based on that access is being created at tremendous speed. This is a similar revolution to what happened when the Gutenberg press, printed thousands of bibles, and placed them in the hands of “savages”.

Apps that solve problems

The tools of production and the logistics to access production output has also been democratized. You can access the same production resource that produces goods like say phones, radios, cookers and more complicated gadgetry by simply writing an email and wiring money to a Chinese manufacturer. Then your shipment can be delivered to your doorstep, without you ever owning a factory or employing highly specialized skills.

Software is eating the world, and brick and mortar institutions no longer hold sway. Everything that is worth something, can be accessed using an App. This has caused a renaissance, where young people, with no college degrees, but a deep passion for solving problems, are self-training and cross pollinating different scientific fields to create apps that solve problems in the world.

All branches of education and their ever more complicated specializations should be linked together. Biology should link to physics, chemistry and technology; that is the future. Professor Yoky Matsuoka reinvented the robotic hand by bringing together mathematics, physics, physiology, computer science and neurology.

The future of work

There is a reason why Google, IBM and Apple are choosing not to have a college degree as a requirement. The best reason here is the developer who is impassioned to solve a problem, and they perfect their coding skills on a computer at their own time, are self-taught and read extensively to discover how things work. They build teams virtually and work at their own time. Since they bring fresh perspective, they are able to develop solutions, cheaply. These solutions could potentially disrupt the world. To tap into this, the big tech companies decided to go to them directly.

In a world where change is rapid, and technology is altering every known profession and industry, survival has forced companies to seek individuals who can and will be able to innovate and create solutions, that ensure they survive despite fierce competition.

It is eye opening to note that technology is altering the future of work. Many jobs will disappear in the next decade. If you are careful to note, repetitive jobs following specific set of actions that can be automated, will be replaced by systems that deliver speed and efficiency. More creative jobs will be available, the ones that require one to create and discover the new.

There is also the resurgence of the great artisan the Leonardo da Vinci whose mastery has been nurtured to create great works of art in sports, art, acting, writing, design and so forth. Will you let your children be these great artisans?

Edwin Moindi is the author of Self & Identity: The Nine Conversations that Question, Empower and Transform for the 21st Century. Email: Edwin.moindi@gmail.com

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