Thomas Friedman quotes John Hagel III in his column today, talking about the “Big Shift” that he wrote about with John Seely Brown in their book The Power of Pull. What resonates here is the idea that to be successful in the “flow of ideas” that we are now a part of, we need to be constantly growing our talents. (Read: Our kids need to be constantly growing their talents.) Here is the snip:
In their recent book, “The Power of Pull,” they suggest that we’re in the early stages of a “Big Shift,” precipitated by the merging of globalization and the Information Technology Revolution. In the early stages, we experience this Big Shift as mounting pressure, deteriorating performance and growing stress because we continue to operate with institutions and practices that are increasingly dysfunctional — so the eruption of protest movements is no surprise.
Yet, the Big Shift also unleashes a huge global flow of ideas, innovations, new collaborative possibilities and new market opportunities. This flow is constantly getting richer and faster. Today, they argue, tapping the global flow becomes the key to productivity, growth and prosperity. But to tap this flow effectively, every country, company and individual needs to be constantly growing their talents.
“We are living in a world where flow will prevail and topple any obstacles in its way,” says Hagel. “As flow gains momentum, it undermines the precious knowledge stocks that in the past gave us security and wealth. It calls on us to learn faster by working together and to pull out of ourselves more of our true potential, both individually and collectively. It excites us with the possibilities that can only be realized by participating in a broader range of flows. That is the essence of the Big Shift.”
How long it will take for the larger population to recognize the dysfunction of the institution of schooling remains to be seen. But this idea of constant upgrading resonates and begs the question (once again) how are we preparing our kids for this? How are we helping them learn faster and work with others to pull out their true potential? How are we acclimating them to a world where skills and dispositions are more important that carrying around “knowledge stocks” in their heads?
Unfortunately, right now the answer appears to be “not much."
In all of this, I can’t help but think of Steve Jobs, who by any stretch was a visionary and in many ways an outlier. But he’s also a model for what Hagel and Brown are talking about.