Posts Tagged problem solving

Getting the most from your team

Let’s say you have embraced inclusion as a core business practice and created an environment that embraces the full spectrum of diversity. How do you get the most from this powerful asset?

An article in Harvard Business Review entitled Putting Your Company’s Whole Brain to Work, available for purchase HERE, provides some guidelines for getting the most from a diverse team:

  • Understand your own profile first so that you approach issues and problem solving objectively.
  • Develop teams that represent different cognitive processes and perspectives.
  • Create environments and guidelines that capture the full value of the team’s diversity.
  • Participate in and lead the process with this full set of objectives in mind.

Great advice.  And it just goes to show that a lot of what we’re doing today builds on skills developed in the past.  This article is from 1997, but much of the advice was as relevant in our parents’ and grandparents’ business endeavors.

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Are we raising our children to be prosperous?

For fun, I just did an image search for the term prosperity.  80% of the pictures that were returned depicted cash, gold or other symbols of wealth.  But, as I noted before, wealth is only one dimension of overall well-being.

There is a ton of advice out there for teaching children the value of money.  How do we teach our children how to value the importance of being happy and productive?

It starts by fostering creativity. And I fear that in many cases we may be short-changing our youth in in that regard through the quest for competitive advantage in academia.

An education system that focuses on results rather than process, as might develop in an environment where standardised testing is the primary measure of success, for example, can overlook the fundamental skills of critical thinking and analysis in favor of repetition and memorisation.  While the short term effect might be adequate scores for the institution, long term we may unintentionally teach the children to focus on arbitrary goals at the expense of original thought.

Aileen Journey muses about this in a recent guest article on the Slow Leadership site.

In content-based, traditional education, the use to be made of the information is not as important as the fact that it gets into the child’s head and stays in long enough to take a test or write a paper. Process is learning how to think, how to approach an issue, how to analyze a problem and come up with a solution. Given the way the world works today, the process of being able to find information is likely to be more important than having that information already sitting in your head. That’s as true of management learning as it is of grade-school classes.

That’s certainly relevant, but I don’t think it goes deep enough.  Traditional content-based education doesn’t stimulate enough introspection either.  Children are taught by syllabus, by outline, by deadline and test.  In the rush to get to the result, a passing grade, they aren’t given enough time to evaluate the context of the quest.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a definite need to teach basic skills.  But successful education should go beyond that to teach reasoning, contextual awareness and, increasingly, collaborative methodology.

Leading a productive and satisfying life requires maintaining a delicate balance between insistent forces.  If you are taught, however unintentionally, that success means the tireless pursuit of an unquestioned goal, or individual performance, then the critical skills necessary to maintain that balance in life might never properly develop.

Educators have a difficult challenge.  Developing curriculum that encourages not only process development but introspection and creativity is only part of the problem.  Coming up with ways to validate the process and demonstrate its value in a way that satisfies the government, taxpayers and parents is even more challenging.

Roger Farnsworth

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