Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reality, Reality, Reality

“THE PHILIPPINES slipped for the second time in a row in the latest Fragile States Index that ranks countries on levels of instability and the pressures they face, as its performance worsened in more than half of a dozen measures.” [Annual ranking finds Philippines more ‘fragile’ second year in a row, D. E. D. Saclag, Business World, 19th Jun 2015]

Unfortunately, we have gotten so used to such bad news that we simply laugh them off invoking “Pinoy resiliency”? Or is it fatalism?

“‘It is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown,’ wrote pioneering polar explorer Ernest Shackleton in reflecting on the feat that nearly took his life, adding: ‘The only true failure would be not to explore at all.’ This vitalizing power of exploration applies as much to the exterior world we inhabit as it does to the interior. Upon turning eighty and looking back on his extraordinary life, Henry Miller observed: ‘Perhaps it is curiosity — about anything and everything — that made me the writer I am. It has never left me.’ And yet in the century since Shackleton and the decades since Miller, despite the proliferation of access to knowledge, we seem to have lost our appetite for this singular human faculty that propels us forward. We’ve lulled ourselves into a kind of complacency, where too often we’d rather be right than uncertain or — worse yet — wrong, forgetting that useful ignorance,’ to borrow Thoreau’s beautiful term, is precisely what helps us transcend the limits of our knowledge and stretch our ability.

“That vital force of self-transcendence is what Arts University Bournemouth student and self-taught animator Georgina Venning explores in her immeasurably delightful stop-motion animation of an excerpt from Ian Leslie’s RSA talk, based on his book Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It.” [A Stop-Motion Love Letter to the Power of CuriosityMaria Popova, Brain Pickings, 17th Jun 2015; The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action.]

Are we a curious people? “It takes shedding the common inward-looking, defensive posture of many of our firms, in favor of an aggressive outward-looking one, to realize that many of us are creating ghosts where we could otherwise be finding ‘gold mines.’” [Doing business beyond borders, Cielito F. Habito, No Free Lunch, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23rd Jun 2015]

“Other ideologies bend but rarely break. A libertarian nominated by a major party is more likely to break than bend. The good news is that if Paul were to win the Republican nomination, libertarianism’s unfitness for the modern world would be revealed for all to see. The bad news is that the poison of its extremism would enter into the body politic, perhaps never to be fully ejected.” [What do libertarians and Stalin have in common? Plenty, Alan Wolfe, REUTERS, Business World, 21st Jun 2015; he is a professor of political science at Boston College and also director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life]

“You see, I study traditional culture. More specifically, I study the ways in which today’s culture manufactures and reinforces traditions through mass media. Folklorists have a unique disciplinary perspective for this sort of analysis because there was this period of time when the field was mired in ‘romantic nationalism.’ The ‘true character’ of a people was said to be rooted in the culture of the volk and was glorified and incorporated into more modern political movements. Like Nazism. So folklorists have a keen interest in serving as the sort-of keepers of cultural authenticity, if you will. If anyone should be highlighting the ways in which ‘traditions’ are being manufactured, distorted, and consumed, it is us… me.” [Yes, you’re a racist… and a traitor, John E. Price: In the immortal words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “Au revoir, gopher,”, 19th Jun 2015]

Extremism can be a slippery slope. And not surprisingly, Francis would ask, “Who are we to judge”? “The leader of a rightwing group that Dylann Roof allegedly credits with helping to radicalize him against black people before the Charleston church massacre has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans such as presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

“Earl Holt has given $65,000 to Republican campaign funds in recent years while inflammatory remarks – including that black people were ‘the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world’ – were posted online in his name.” [Leader of group cited in 'Dylann Roof manifesto' donated to top Republicans, Jon Swaine, The Guardian, 22nd Jun 2015]

“With technology, classroom teachers will be unnecessary and even obsolete. Teachers even impede learning because they spoon-feed students, promote rote learning, and teach to test. You don’t actually need to know anything, you can find out at the point when you need to know it. It’s the teacher’s job to point young minds toward the right kind of question. A teacher doesn’t need to give any answers because answers are everywhere.

“Students will learn from each other using resources and mentoring, not necessarily in the same room but even from far away. [It is called] Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE). Children need to be taught to think and study for themselves. It’s quite fashionable to say that the education system’s broken—it’s not broken, it’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just that we don’t need it anymore. It’s outdated. We need to look at learning as the product of educational self-organization. It’s not about making learning happen; it’s about letting it happen.” [The future of learning, Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm, The Manila Times, 19th Jun 2015]

The opposite of extremism is curiosity? “Against conventional wisdom . . . Constant learning and adaptation . . . Bold experimentation . . . Iterative customer involvement . . . Excellence in execution . . . Beyond fashion . . . Simplicity in design and use.” In other words, “Think Different” . . . [Design thinking and innovation at Apple, Stefan Thomke and Barbara Feinberg, Harvard Business School, 4th Mar 2010]

“Curiosity is a muscle — use it or lose it. It’s something that we consciously have to nurture in ourselves, in our families, in classrooms, at work.” [Popova, op. cit.]

“Sometimes I hear that curiosity and creativity are killed by too many facts — but, actually, the opposite is true: The more you know, the more you want to know. Not only that, but the more you know, the more connections you can make between the different bits of knowledge that you have in your head and therefore the more ideas you have, which is why curiosity is really the wellspring of creativity.

“Technology is replacing routine work — and that’s what technology replaces first and has done throughout history. So intellectually curious people — people who are capable of learning throughout their career, of asking questions (good questions), of adapting and collaborating with others from different disciplines; people who are capable of really thriving in this world of non-routine work, in other words — are the people who are going to do better.”

Where are we? “Business will operate in an increasingly unpredictable environment where we will see the rise of the ‘emerging,’ the development of the ‘underdeveloped,’ and the retreating of the ‘developed.’ In this disruptive landscape, there is no tempo, no even rhythm, no predictable ending in organizational stories.

“Such developments will trigger massive shifts in mind-sets. Those who have invested in capability will now have to invest in imagination; move from an independent economy to a collaborative economy; from evolving to continuously disrupting. The expanded opportunity will spread progress, but the balance can tilt anytime. It can be volatile yet vibrant; uncertain yet unlimited in potential, complex yet connected and ambiguous. Organizations will be in a continual state of tension to stay in place.” [Innovation is not optional, Alma Rita R. Jimenez, M.A.P. Insights, Business World, 22nd Jun 2015]

We don’t want to touch fragile state with a ten-foot pole. But that means we have to learn to “think different”!

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