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Posts Tagged ‘adaptive leadership’

Learning to Innovate

April 21, 2015 1 comment

dancing trees nycTony Wagner is a compelling champion for change. In his books and TED talks, the former teacher and “Expert in Residence” at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab makes the case that “reform” doesn’t sufficiently capture what it will take to align our education system with the emerging economy. Wagner says that what’s needed now is nothing short of system reinvention; that we’re overdue for shifting the metric for success from what students know to what students can do with what they know.

He has identified seven skills that we must foster in students who will be equipped to thrive in a world where innovation is king and knowledge has become a commodity:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Accessing and analyzing information
  • Curiosity and imagination

Further, Wagner has observed that student success is most likely when this adaptive, collaborative skillset is complemented by a strong sense of intrinsic motivation. In a series of interviews he conducted, outstanding young innovators consistently expressed the value of giving back and making a difference—a value that had been nurtured by parents and teachers who allowed them to discover their passion and purpose through play.

Now, I know there are thousands of teachers and administrators who share Wagner’s perspective and are working to reinvent our education system from the inside out (see for example, Educators 4 Excellence). I also know that these innovation-friendly skills and values are already firmly established in the recruiting and people-development playbooks of entrepreneurial leaders and start-up talent managers.

But I think Wagner’s message has relevance for leaders in every sector of the economy—maybe especially those currently being subjected to disruptive innovation. Innovation, after all, is learning. Regardless of the nature of your work, the extent to which learning is integrated into your culture directly impacts your ability to achieve and sustain the results you want.

What ideas can you borrow from a conversation about reinventing education to awaken the playful, adaptive, purpose-driven learning capacity of your own organization?

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