In my previous blog I shared my idea of the try-and-fail strategy and how I thought leadership and education are connected. The blurring lines between functional and theoretical technology as well as those between industries play a crucial role in the evolution of the educational system. Or at least, the evolution this system should go through. Up to now innovations in education seem to be held back by a legacy of traditional believes and standards. When I was discussing this subject with peers after publishing ‘This technology era needs leaders that fail’, I received some nice input that stirred up quit some thoughts about this subject. My conclusion: leaders in education and technology should join forces and develop a new approach, one that is applicable in both learning providers and organisations. But an educational system and business world forming a collaboration that can be the solid, sustainable base for ecosystems raises two questions. First, are the current schools geared to cultivate engaged students? Second, is attendance at school a prerequisite for successful education? No and no, I would say. But let’s start at the beginning of this line of reasoning.
Are you with me?
How can schools and organisations expand their innovative capacity?
Where once technology was simply the enabler of business, it has now become its biggest driver. But not all organisations are have had the opportunity (capital) to update to the latest technology. The emerging generation will be more open to engaging with technology, since they have grown up in the knowledge society. But they will be hindered in their development when the technology they want to use is not available as an option in their school or workplace. IT leader wannabes should be able to look beyond the traditional IT department for inspiration. Startups – particularly when they are successful – will provide a breeding ground for the skills required by the future technology leaders. The main factor for success is that leaders within education and organisations use the same approach, so students can easily adapt the acquired knowledge in their work after graduating. That said, let’s talk about what that approach should look like. What should organisations or leaders focus on? Crucial is the creation of an ecosystem and a culture where delegation of knowledge, creativity and an innovative mind-set can quickly be adopted by others. How do leaders in education and technology develop such innovative system that is of added value to all the connected ecosystems?
Changing the CIO role
What if we do it as follows? You expand the innovative character by setting up different project teams within several organisations that continuously change team players, working together in several projects. This way new insights spring to life much faster. Periodically they share experiences, milestones and feedback. Students or employees work shortly in a project team before they hop on to the next project in another organisation. These teams should function without any managerial involvement in place. Born leaders will automatically claim their place and fulfil their leadership role. It’s in their nature. Those talents are precisely the students that would be eligible for a mentorship. This is where the CIO steps in, as a mentor. Such a team-based construction would be feasible in the education system as well as within organisations. This will change the role of CIO, when it comes to talent management. Leaders learn best from leaders. In that perspective, leaders in education and CIO’s should, as the more experienced and knowledgeable persons, guide the top talents that are scouted via collaborations (partnerships) between schools and organisations. Also, CIOs need to free budget and space for students to work in business startups and commit to partnerships with schools in a way that benefits both parties. Furthermore they need to look at the special challenges, like diversity issues. Women have to deal with much more challenges when it comes to getting positions or investment capital for example. Another consequence of traditional mind-sets. The role of the CIO is much more than a facilitator of IT across the world. CIO’s are improvers, influencers, transformers and should be great inspirers. They should be an inspiration on how businesses are run today. In an architecture where IT leaders and schools go hand in hand, this means being a coach and a motivator to students and young graduates, especially to the selected next-generation leaders amongst the talents. Large and medium enterprises should therefore create a network of mentors who work together to help educate top talents. This starts with creating awareness on the joint venture the technology leaders and education systems need to build.
Education and business as a joint venture
In the TED talk ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ Steven Johnson provides you with environmental perspectives on understanding how innovative ideas derive. It’s a true inspiration on how to create more opportunities for ideas to develop and how to grow and foster more conducive conditions for innovation in organisations and systems.
What could stimulate the developments of ideas in a collaboration between learning providers and businesses? Well, initiate startups where the students can experience real life obstacles and challenges of setting up a business. Even better, give students space to begin their own startup, without any commitment of the organisation. Just let them enjoy all the facilities, tools of a modern organisation and mentorschip to prove they can build a profitable business. A startup mind-set differs from any other business mind-set. Dealing with change and delivery demands requires agile response, insights and decision-making. Students are bound to spot ways to improve our operational processes. These observations can – in return – be used to improve the involved organisation.
Looks like a win-win situation. What do you think?