In Toronto, this morning’s paper came with a copy of ‘Corporate Knights – the magazine for Clean Capitalism’. In her Publisher’s Note, Karen Kun raises an urgent question:
“In an increasingly interconnected global community, students will need to apply systems thinking on a level not seen by previous generations… If such principles are not included in formal education and graduates are unable to address real world issues, the as Aldo Leopold famously said, “What is Education for?” ”
What we need in our interdependent world is indeed what Kun calls ‘higher learning’. That is what will stimulate a higher intelligence, one that connects the systemic dots, sees opportunities that otherwise would not be visible, that anticipates and defuses negative implications, an intelligence capable of constructing and implementing robust and sustainable solutions.
Seth Godin in his blog today says “..the new revolution, the revolution of connection, creates all sorts of new productivity and new opportunities.” He sees the problem in the gap in knowledge and know-how to sustain this: “No one is trained in how to do this, in how to initiate, to visualize, to solve interesting problems and then deliver.”
But we can do something about this right now. It’s not going to be a software to save us. We need the appropriate mindware . It already exists, it’s called Systems Thinking, and we are short-changing our young people by not making it more available in our schools. Our profound belief and motivation from over 15 years of working with organizations is that we can improve our intelligence. How? By learning how to manage the interdependencies among three faculties of our intellect: intuition (birth of an idea), understanding (systemic planning ) and knowledge (systemic implementation).The Thinking Process Tools from the Theory of Constraints developed by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt are a particularly powerful means of acquiring and applying a systemic mindset.
These years of ongoing crisis are a daily reminder that without improving our individual and collective intelligence, we at best artificially limit our potential and at worst create consequences with implications that are harmful to us all. What is education for? Let’s all make sure that Systems Thinking is coming to a school near you. Soon.
See our book Sechel: Logic, Language & Tools to Manage any Organization as a Network, Toronto, 2011.