What if we could transform our schools from “assembly-line factories ” into centers of innovation? What if we could teach young people the skills they need to be able to adapt to an unpredictable future? We can and we must.
When even science has to rethink itself…
Anyone who hasn’t seen Sir Kenneth Robinson’s brilliant animated talk ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ about what’s wrong with schools today is in for a treat.
The question is not just about preparing for the future. Increasing complexity means new thinking is needed at every level in society today. That includes the realm of science itself. As physicist and Intelligent Management contributor Prof. Sergio Pagano puts it:
The complexity of today’s world requires more intelligence and less traditional ways to approach problems. The scientific paradigm based on reproducibility of experiments requires some rethinking, on the basis of the practical impossibility, in many fields, of defining the “systems” under consideration as a separate entity from the rest of the universe (the environment).
In the case of complex systems such as living beings, or organizations, the number and quality of interconnections between the system and the surrounding environment, call for new ways of “scientifically” defining causes and effects. This is a new science of complexity which is becoming more and more necessary for us to understand, and survive, on our planet.
Schools for our age of complexity
How can we achieve within schools ‘more intelligence and less traditional ways to approach problems’? The practical answer is in systemic thinking training for educators and students. The most effective way we know to make this happen is through the Thinking Process Tools from the Theory of Constraints. These tools train users to place any problem within a much broader context, to analyze the assumptions i.e. mental models that create blockage, to systematically challenge those assumptions in order to create breakthrough solutions, and to think cause and effect so the solutions are logically robust. Their consistent use develops a higher intelligence in the users as they learn to connect elements of reality in a systemic way (connect the dots).
Creating a win-win society
When school curricula are rethought using a systems thinking approach and students acquire knowledge in a systemic way, we help develop a new kind of citizen capable of consistently envisioning a win-win society and evolving through uncertainty. They will naturally desire to work in 21st century organizations that are different from the majority that exist today. Companies will have to keep pace to create environments suitable for systems thinkers, organized as collaborative networks rather than traditional hierarchies. In this way we will achieve the kind of organization envisaged by W. Edwards Deming based on transformation and cooperation (see our previous post New Thinking Skills: Learn to Connect the Dots).
Business Schools for the future?
We are not talking about an educational fad, but about creating the foundation for a truly sustainable and prosperous future. And by the way, in our new book from CRC Press, New York ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ we dedicate a whole chunk of the book to what we think Business Schools should be teaching to create leaders for the age of complexity. This includes:
- A Systems View
- Mindset, Values and Ethics
- Understanding Variation and Processes
- Synchronous Management and Managing Constraints
- Systemic Project Management (Critical Chain)
- Interacting Systemically with the Whole Supply Chain
- Continuous Breakthrough, Innovation and Personal Development
- Thinking Process Tools for Intelligent Emotions
Sign up to our blog here and shift your thinking towards broader, systemic possibilities for yourself and your organization.
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York. Angela’s new business novel+ website The Human Constraint looks at how Deming and theTheory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation.