And the forecast is: WRONG

The Business Herald in the NZ Herald this morning (Friday 25 Feb 2011) features an edited extract from Dan Gardner’s new book “Future Babble”. In the excerpt Gardner writes mostly about how “we” continue to believe experts’ predictions about the future when they are notoriously, conclusively, consistently wrong. According to Gardner this is because our minds are hard wired to seek simplification and certainty. But it doesn’t work! Gardner’s excerpt ends where I think the real problem lies:

 “And that leads to the ultimate conclusion, which is one we do not want to accept but must: There are no crystal balls, no style of thinking, no technique, no model will ever eliminate uncertainty. The future will forever be shrouded in darkness. Only if we accept and embrace this fundamental fact can we hope to be prepared for the inevitable surprises that lie ahead.”

 The excerpt offers no clue on how we might “embrace” this uncertainty but the Christchurch earthquake and aftermath this week and ongoing, dramatically indicates how. The key to survival, recovery and prosperity lies in our capacity to collaborate.

 But command style management, focus on dispassionate information, and individualistic reward systems ensure that most of us seldom, if ever experience collaboration. At best we experience co-operation only.

 The key to thriving in a climate of uncertainty is unity through shared vision in culture that constantly questions and tests its assumptions. To get that we have to engage diverse perspectives. Conventional management practice requires compliant uniformity, often called “alignment”.

 It seems pretty clear to me what has to change. Education, especially Business education, for one, has to change: not so much what is taught and learned, but HOW it’s taught and learned (and assessed): collaboratively.

Go here for an extended version of this article with more on how to change education.

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