Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hagel's Manifesto for a new world - A call to the creative (everyone)

John Hagel, author of The Only Sustainable Edge: Why Business Strategy Depends on Productive Friction and Dynamic Specialization posted a "labor day manifesto for a new world" on his blog Edge Perspectives. I continue to follow John's work and he has significantly influenced my thinking and reaffirms the direction of my research.

Similar to other well-known thinkers (Florida) John describes a shift toward innovation work using the term passionate creatives to describe workers who will thrive in this new ecosystem.

At a very basic level, to be human is to be a passionate creative. That is what all of us were meant to be, even though many religions and political movements over the centuries have sought to channel or even deny this basic human need. We live in societies that, often with the best of intentions (and unfortunately occasionally with the worst of intentions), sought to socialize us into a very different mold. But many of those societies have been disintegrating over the past several decades as technology and public policy infrastructures challenge and undermine the foundations of those
He also suggests, like other well-known thinkers (Robinson), that our current institutions were designed for a different era - one defined for scalable efficiency (push system) to one driven by scalable peer learning (pull system). He writes,
This group of individuals today still faces enormous obstacles in pursuing its passions. While our infrastructures are transforming at a rapid pace, the institutions around us are increasingly at odds with these new infrastructures. Most of the institutions that we must deal with, whether they are schools, firms, non-profits or government bodies, emerged and were shaped in a previous era, driven by earlier technology infrastructures. These communication and transportation infrastructures rewarded scalable efficiency and we responded accordingly.

Passion in the workplace became highly suspect. Passionate people do not follow standardized scripts well, they are constantly seeking to improvise, challenge conventional wisdom and strike out on new and unexpected paths. ... These individuals also detest the organizational politics that pervade these institutions as many in the hierarchy begin to focus on hoarding and protecting limited resources. We quickly learn that our passions are viewed as deeply subversive, rather than as treasured assets.
He predicts with realistic optimism that this shift will be long and difficult but that it will free many from routine work. He continues,

Why will more and more people evolve into passionate creatives? Because we live in a world that is shifting inexorably from an obsession with efficiency to an obsession with learning. We have come to call this the Big Shift.
His manifesto is a call to passionate creatives - to work hard learn how to increase their ability to learn, be creative and let out their true innovative nature. It is a call to all passionate creatives to learn to increase their learning and innovative Edgility.

Many of us have suppressed our passions in an attempt to fit in and integrate ourselves into a world that expected stability, predictability and safety.... Our challenge is to re-discover and cultivate them, moving them from the margins into the center of our lives.
It is also a call to institutions to embrace this shift or continue to struggle with future budget and political instability.
Instead of pursuing scalable efficiency, institutions must learn how to pursue scalable peer learning. Said differently, institutions must find ways to make talent development the core rationale for their existence.
Thank you John Hagel for your perspetive and interesting insights.

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