What you need to succeed

Before I put forth what follows, please know that I am not big on the pragmatic arguments for education.  Its not that they are not relevant (we do need to work or we should not eat) but that they are low.  There are so many better reasons to pursue a great education for ourselves and our communities that “being a good worker” has some political scariness to it.  That being said, there is a great deal of discussion about educational reform that centers around this notion of “if we don’t do better, our economy will fail” type of thinking.  And sometimes the arguments stumble upon interesting ideas.

I read (and recommend to those who lead) the blog at http://www.leadershipnow.com.  He recently ran a post part of which I wanted to grab and post here.  The whole post can be read here:  View article…

The part I wanted to post concerned the 7 Survival Skills that an author isolated as he looked at the “Global Achievement Gap.”  The author is Tony Wagner and the book is “The Global Achievement Gap.”  His skills he identified are:

• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
“The idea that a company’s senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside . . . The person who’s close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don’t take things at face value, don’t go in with preconceived ideas that you’re trying to prove.”

—Ellen Kumata, consultant to Fortune 200 companies

• Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
“The biggest problem we have in the company as a whole is finding people capable of exerting leadership across the board . . . Our mantra is that you lead by influence, rather than authority.”

—Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Cisco

• Agility and Adaptability
“I’ve been here four years, and we’ve done fundamental reorganization every year because of changes in the business . . . I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future, so this is why adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills.”

—Clay Parker, President of Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards

• Initiative and Entrepreneurship
“For our production and crafts staff, the hourly workers, we need self-directed people . . . who can find creative solutions to some very tough, challenging problems.”

—Mark Maddox, Human Resources Manager at Unilever Foods North America

• Effective Oral and Written Communication
“The biggest skill people are missing is the ability to communicate: both written and oral presentations. It’s a huge problem for us.”

—Annmarie Neal, Vice President for Talent Management at Cisco Systems

• Accessing and Analyzing Information
“There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren’t prepared to process the information effectively, it almost freezes them in their steps.”

—Mike Summers, Vice President for Global Talent Management at Dell

• Curiosity and Imagination
“Our old idea is that work is defined by employers and that employees have to do whatever the employer wants . . . but actually, you would like him to come up with an interpretation that you like — he’s adding something personal — a creative element.”

—Michael Jung, Senior Consultant at McKinsey and Company


I blogged this because many of these issues are basic to what I continue to seek and discussion in my world of education.  Many of these could be labeled, “What it takes to have a humane education.”  In a nutshell, many are disillusioned with a definition of education that is purely performance driven.  They want to see folks educated to “be” not simply to “do.”  God bless the conversation and continue it.

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