Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The New Economy Requires More of an “Einsteinian” Approach

Einstein would feel at home in today’s world.  His creative genius in solving problems would be of great demand in today’s world. Gone are the industrial days where following simple instructions from start to finish guaranteed success in life. Today’s employment opportunities have a greater need for creative thinking, STEM, and unique approaches to solving problems.  The world is changing and society will need to catch up. 

A great many things in our society are still built off of the Industrial Era mentality. Our educational system, government offices, law enforcement, etc. continue to use a sequential pattern to process people and information in an inefficient and often ineffective manner. Contrary to institutional sluggishness, most businesses have already moved into the Information Era where they focus on competitive advantages to solve problems and reduce costs. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics between 1998-2004 30% of new jobs created were algorithmic while 70% involved complex heuristic work (Bradford, Manyika, & Yee, 2005). In other words, most jobs today don’t involve simple A to Z processing and require thinking at a higher level to effectively process information in a way the can generate new ideas. The use of creativity and intuition are not foreign in this environment. 

A paper in Educational Leadership highlights how creative thinking is more rewarded in today’s society than sequential thinking (Goodwin & Miller, 2013). The global economy requires new ways of educating people to use those skills and abilities that were second nature to geniuses. Education has the responsibility to meet the needs of preparing people for more complex work environments.

Einstein was considered “dim witted”, Thomas Edison had a “confused mind”, and Darwin was a “little slow”. They were characterized by “experts” in this manner because a healthy human mind was one that could easily follow instructions. Line up and take your number was the main criteria for success-not a whole lot of creative thinking needed. People were stuck where they were born regardless of their abilities.

Luckily things have changed for the better in most sectors of society. According to the paper divergent thinking, heuristic problem solving, and right brain thinking are needed in today’s world and should be taught, not thwarted, in education. There will be an increasing need for graduates to think beyond what is front of them and move into more complex thought patterns to overcome market challenges.  

When a person can think about problems from multiple vantage points they can be more creative. Likewise, it is necessary to try and understand problems as much as possible and make an intellectual leap when all of the information isn’t available. The right brain will need to be employed to tackle issues emotionally, intuitively, creatively, globally and analytically.

For those developing new products and solving complex problems they will need to come up with answers to very complex problems. They cannot solve problems simply by following pre-made steps but must move forward, upward, backwards, sideways and downwards to understand problems. The use of multidirectional perception is needed to tackle problems effectively. 

We can see this process occur in software creation, product development, consulting, science, and other fields that require heavy intellectual labor. As the economic output speeds up and relies less on physical attributes mental faculty will help in developing businesses to push the envelope of their industries. The educational process will need to adjust their processes to ensure that the brightest minds, not only the ones that can follow instructions, can move forward to meet the intellectual needs of employers. I’m sure that Einstein will find his employment options today much more to his liking than sitting on an assembly line.  

Bradford, C., Manyika, J., & Yee,L. (2005). The next revolution in interactions. McKinsey Quarterly, 4,25–26.

Goodwin, B. & Miller, K. (2013). Creativity requires a mix of skills. Educational Leadership, 70 (5).

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