Thursday, January 16, 2014

Who Do You Need to Know That You Don't Know?

In all my work with clients, whether in turbulent situations, corporate settings or in the lecture hall, I ask the same reality check questions "Who do you need to know that you don't know?" and "What do you need to know that you don't know?"  You know what you know. You know many people, but do you know what they know? How often do you sit around the table when a long time friend comes out with something and you turn, dumbfounded, because they shared something you didn't know of them?

Successful leaders don't know it all; they know who their go-to people are for what they do need to know. The more expansive your network is, the more thought partners you have access to. The world isn't slowing down any time soon and we can't be expected to keep up to its pace. It's even more critical that leaders align with people outside their immediate realm so they have access to a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience they need in order to lead.

But how can we grow the leaders of the future? In most cases, the traditional education model will not prepare them for thinking on their feet, nor for how fast the world is evolving through innovation and technology. Therefore some of the fundamentals have to change. Years ago, I was driving with my son and talking about just that. What he said to me stays with me for this day which was, "The traditional education system is failing not because of bad teachers, bad kids or low standards but because the content is not interesting and the environment isn't stimulating, but the rest of the world is. The educational model as we know it has lost its relevance. People learn more in online communities. The physical environment is too structured and doesn't allow for individuality".

Well, that's being addressed, I'm happy to say. Enter TED-Ed, Lessons Worth Sharing. Users can take any educational video as well as a TED video and easily create a customized lesson with it. Now there are TED-ED clubs, school-based programs that supports students in discussing, pursuing and presenting their big ideas in the form of short TED-style talks. Many of my clients now invite their staff to share a favorite TED talk and then discuss why they shared it and what the learning was.

Today, I'm happy to say, I read a position paper from the British Columbia Ministry of Education on their Curriculum Transformation Plans where they state "The current curriculum has too many objectives to cover and with so many objectives it can in some ways restrict student learning. Moreover, its highly prescriptive nature puts it at odds with the vision of a more personalized learning experience. With the improved curriculum, students will have increased opportunities to gain the essential learning and life skills necessary to live and work successfully in a complex, interconnected, and rapidly changing world. Students will focus on acquiring skills to help them use knowledge critically and creatively, to solve problems ethically and collaboratively, and to make the decisions necessary to succeed in our increasingly globalized world."

This is exciting! It's time leaders enabled their people to learn, share, create strong thought partnerships and evolve all those around them. For parents and teachers, it's about helping the next wave of leaders-to-be learn, and integrate the learning every day and to use the outside world as the global classroom it can be. You want to have a sense of where your kids are heading in the future? Bring back those dinner table discussions around something that blew you away that day and ask them to share the same. Watch a TED talk with them and then discuss it. Invite them to embrace curiosity and inquiry. We will never know all we need to know which opens the door to global relationships, to percolate on and design what we need to build a strong future.

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