Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Having to Invent a Job

At the recent Aspen Ideas Festival, the The New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman said that when he graduated from college, he was able to find a job, but our children were going to have to invent a job.

Engineering education emphasizes teaching and testing us about facts that are already known.  There is much less focus on our ability to discover, create and reinvent - - our ability to invent a job and a career.  We teach and mange in a world in which we have collectively made certain linear assumptions.  But jobs, careers, valued skills, and industries are transforming at an unheard-of-rate in a nonlinear world.  We are trained and organized for the familiar - where individual and organization planning assumes linearity. 

Innovation and creativity are keys to our future.  Creativity requires a social and economic environment that can nurture its many forms (remember that creativity is multidimensional and comes in many mutually reinforcing forms). 

From climate change to energy independence to balance the federal budget, we need a completely new mind-set.  Linear thinking is a death knell of creativity.

Linear thinking is not going to help you invent a career or job.

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