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Information to Innovation

Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recently while in China, I had the opportunity to train a number of gifted young leaders in mentoring and leadership. Their demanding education would put many of them at the front of any test-taking competition. They are able to memorize incredible amounts of information, and constantly crave to learn more. I was truly in awe of their skill in this venue. Regardless of the amount of information we worked through, they still wanted more. Their desire to learn is insatiable, and I found myself having to bow out of the trainings in the late hours of the day due to fatigue—embarrassed that I could not keep up with their desire to learn.

As the world becomes more technologically nimble, rote memory is helpful, but similar ends can also be achieved through our electronic access to information. As the horizon shifts, often unpredictably, creative thinking and innovation have surfaced as the necessary skills, not merely the memorization of information. Hard to pin down and apply predictable structure to, creativity and innovation are the current currency in a media dominated world. Information does not carry the power it used to…what we do with it does. 

Financially motivated as to what our tuition dollars would produce, I wondered what my son was going to study in college. It is the question on many parents’ lips: “What is your major?” His response to this question made me think. He said he believed that the job he was to have in the future may not even exist today, so he is studying business and psychology to prepare him for the ever-changing future of our global job market. He wants to understand the basics so he can apply them to the unique situations he will face in oncoming tomorrows. As I talked about the dreams and hopes of the young leaders I interacted with, China is too beginning to grasp the importance of this, desiring always to be on top of the intellectual and prosperous business pile. It made me recognize how important it is for us Americans to gratefully stand on the shoulders of past innovators—their creativity producing pride in the “American way.” We truly have a glorious legacy to build on…

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