Tag Archive for: knowledge

Designing the Future: The Role of Deliberate Diversity

Cornell_logo2-1s7ocw0I’ve just returned from a Cornell University class reunion that reminded me of several very important principles that have guided most of my work and my life since I was an undergraduate there fifty years ago.

Today I want to share one of many important insights that emerged out of three days of lectures, conversations, meals, and other on-campus experiences that are better left unmentioned. I have a deep and renewed appreciation that I am who I am today because of my seven years as a Cornell undergraduate and graduate student.

Cornell University is an unusual – and remarkably diverse – institution.

Cornell was founded in 1865 (shortly after the end of the Civil War) when Ezra Cornell created the campus by donating his farmland on the hills above Ithaca, New York, and bringing to life his vision of “an institution where any person could find instruction in any study.” Read more

Knowledge is not a “Thing”

Classic wall clockEarly in my career I worked for a large Midwestern textbook publishing firm. I have never forgotten a conversation with one editor, a brilliant, well-educated woman, who told me in tears that she had just been docked a full week’s vacation.

My friend was supposed to be at her desk and at work every morning at 9:00 AM; her supervisor had been tracking her arrivals and had secretly documented that over the past twelve months she had accumulated almost 40 hours of tardiness (10 minutes one day, 5 minutes another, and so on).

It apparently made no difference that she almost never joined the parade out the door at precisely 5 PM; in fact, she regularly worked an hour or two beyond 5 PM to meet her deadlines. And she often took work home at night.

That might have been an appropriate disciplinary action if my friend had been working on an assembly line somewhere and was being paid by the hour. But she was a former secondary school teacher with a Masters degree who was being paid a decent salary to collaborate with a college professor on a high school math book. Read more

Nobody is Smarter than Everybody

InternetYesterday I wanted to understand a definition of leadership that I’d heard about at a recent conference. I typed the first four words of the definition into my browser search engine, hit Return, and in 0.42 seconds I had a list of over 58,000,000 relevant links. 58 million links! In 0.42 seconds!

Many of us don’t really understand how fortunate we are to be alive in 2014. Each of us has access to practically all the world’s recorded knowledge, whenever we want it, no matter where we are, in almost no time at all, and at practically no cost.

Not only that, but each of us can also communicate with almost every other human being, no matter where that person is, almost instantaneously, and again at almost no cost.

And every one of us can publish our ideas and our opinions on a global basis. In the last week alone my website has been visited by people from countries as far away from my home base as South Africa, Namibia, Russia, Iran, India, China, Australia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Nigeria (among many others).

I’m not bragging; I am simply astounded. Read more

Putting Things in Perspective – Part Two

The other day I posted a humorous “rant” by comedian Louis CK about how things really aren’t all that bad (“Putting Things in Perspective“).

Now my good friend Don Porter has forwarded me another video that’s probably also already gone viral, but I can’t resist putting it up too.

This one is a whole heck of a lot more serious – not so much about the current economic crisis as about some basic statistics about the size of the global economy, the relative strengths of the United States, China, and India, and the accumulation of knowledge in the world. [continue reading...]