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Five Minds for the Future

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					FIVE MINDS FOR THE FUTURE
HOWARD GARDNER

HOWARD GARDNER is professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also a senior director of Harvard Project Zero. Dr. Gardner, a graduate of Harvard University, is the recipient of twenty-one honorary degrees from universities and colleges in a number of countries. He is the author of more than twenty books including Changing Minds, Good Work and Multiple Intelligences. Dr. Gardner was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world in 2005. Dr. Gardner’s Web site is at www.howardgardner.com.

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MAIN IDEA The marketplace of the 21-st century is certain to feature accelerating globalization, rapid increases in the amount of information which is available and stunning breakthroughs in science and technology. What will it take to succeed in that kind of world? Irrespective of how the future will eventually unfold, there are five types of cognitive abilities or “minds” which are certain to command a premium in the years ahead: Be able to select key information from a wide variety of sources and arrange that information in ways that make sense and add value To go beyond political correctness and develop solutions which are culturally acceptable and inclusive rather than divisive or offensive

1. The Disciplined Mind

2. The Synthesizing Mind

3. The Creative Mind

4. The Respectful Mind

5. The Ethical Mind

Understand and apply the structured ways of thinking associated with academic disciplines or major professional fields

Go beyond existing knowledge to fashion new solutions that build on and enhance what has been done before in the same field

To act in ways which exemplifies sound judgement and which in every way will be considered to be good citizenship

If you plan on excelling in the future, cultivate these five very different and distinctive ways of thinking.

1. The Disciplined Mind

2. The Synthesizing Mind

3. The Creative Mind

4. The Respectful Mind

5. The Ethical Mind

You have to learn to think in a disciplined manner in order to excel in the future. It usually takes about ten years to become competent in a profession or in any particular area of human expertise. Unless you actually pay that price and get up to speed in a profession, you’ll always be forced to march to the beat of someone else’s drum. By learning how to think and act systematically about a subject – which is what a professional education does – you position yourself to be able to move into other fields of your choice in the future.

With so much information now being available, the ability to synthesize or to knit together information from a variety of sources into coherent ideas is very important. Unless you learn how to do this for yourself, you’re going to be overwhelmed by the flood of information which will confront you every day of your career. More and more, the job description of all kinds of jobs in the future will call for synthesis. Unless you can place t he current state of knowledge in its proper context, it’s very hard to come up with anything new.

The creative mind builds on discipline and synthesis to put forward new ideas, f resh thinking and unexpected solutions to problems. Creativity and originality have always been highly valued in business and the ability to go beyond existing boundaries and fashion ideas which stretch the boundaries of what’s possible will remain highly valued in the future. It is entirely feasible in the future, those c orporations which embrace innovation will outperform by a considerable margin those that do not.

Respect deals directly with our relations with other human beings. Nowadays, it is impossible t o do business without considering how what you do impacts on others. To be respectful means you welcome differences, you try to understand where others are coming from and you attempt to work harmoniously with them. In the m odern interconnected world, if you show intolerance or disrespect word will get around and your actions will come back to haunt you. You need to be worthy of respect to prosper in the future.

Ethics has moved to center stage with all of the c orporate accounting scandals which have made the news in recent years. In simple terms, ethics is about understanding your role as a worker or as a citizen and acting accordingly. You have to act in ways which are consistent with your personal beliefs and which can withstand scrutiny s hould t he tables be turned at some point in the future. To act ethically means for you and your organization to do all those things which will make you proud rather than hiding in a veil of ignorance.

1. The Disciplined Mind. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 2 - 3 2. The Synthesizing Mind. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 3 - 4 3. The Creative Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 5 - 6 4. The Respectful Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 6 - 7 5. The Ethical Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 7 - 8

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Five Minds for the Future

1. The Disciplined Mind

Of course becoming formally trained in a profession isn’t merely just a matter of memorizing the various facts and formulas which are commonly used. Nor do you become a professional by reading a few books on a topic. Instead, developing expertise in a formal discipline usually involves four distinct steps: 1 Find someone who is sufficiently well versed in the field that they can help you identify all of the important topics or concepts you need to know in order to succeed in that discipline. Some of these topics will be content (important facts you need to know in depth) while others will be more methodical (how to set up a rigorous scientific experiment or how to analyze a balance sheet).

You have to learn to think in a disciplined manner in order to excel in the future. It usually takes about ten years to become competent in a profession or in any particular area of human expertise. Unless you actually pay that price and get up to speed in a profession, you’ll always be forced to march to the beat of someone else’s drum. By learning how to think and act systematically about a subject – which is what a professional education does – you position yourself to be able to move into other fields of your choice in the future.

“Individuals without one or more disciplines will not be able to succeed at any demanding workplace and will be restricted to menial tasks.” – Howard Gardner Formal training in a discipline – whether it be as a scientist, as a lawyer, as an architect, as a business manager or as in any other profession – allows a student to acquire at least three different and worthwhile elements: 1 Discipline 2 3 Background knowledge

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Spend enough time to become genuinely competent in this field. This will require in-depth study over a substantial period of time so you can analyze the subject from a number of different analysis modes.

3 Mental habits Patterns of behavior

Study your field in a number of different ways or from a number of different entry points. Look in depth at various case studies, logical analysis, controversial debates and so forth. Doing this enables you to develop a genuine understanding for the state-of-the-art and robust mental agility.

1. Background knowledge – to become proficient in any field, you first need to study what those who have gone before have learned. As you gain this knowledge base – which takes time – you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for the knowledge which exists in other professions and fields of expertise as well. Once you’ve gone through the process of learning a discipline yourself, you’ll also have a better appreciation for what it takes to become proficient in some other field. 2. Mental habits – studying a discipline to professional standard always requires that you put aside unstructured thinking and develop solid mental habits. In effect, you learn how to think about problems in a structured and systematic way. Almost all of the professions and certainly all of the different academic fields have their own distinctive way of thinking and discussing things. Unless you know the accepted way of thinking in each discipline, you’ll find it very difficult to work with others who are deeply immersed in their areas of specialization. 3. Patterns of behavior – disciplined professionals approach problems in a structured manner which is ingrained by their training. For example, scientists observe the world, come up with tentative suggestions, design experiments to test their theories, revise those theories in light of what they find and then return to make new observations and start the cycle running all over again. Professionals in other fields often use equivalent or similar patterns of behavior which are the direct result of their professional training.

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Set up ample opportunities for you to get some hands-on experience in this field. This may be under the guidance of an experienced mentor or in other settings. Doing this enables you to gain performances of understanding or actual experience in how things happen under a variety of conditions. By participating in these formative exercises, your understanding of your field will be deepened beyond mere memorization of key facts and formulas. Until you are forced to apply what you’ve learned into real-world situations, your know-how is of limited use. You then become equipped to pose new questions or puzzles in your field and to add to the knowledge base throughout your career.

Clearly then to master a discipline is not something which can happen overnight or even by mail order. Instead, time and access to mentors who are themselves sufficiently well qualified is required, along with actual hands-on experience in the field to validate the learning which is happening. If you don’t pay the price to become competent in the discipline of your choice, you effectively stay at the same level of someone who is completely unschooled. Instead of taking advantage of the progress made by experienced people in your field over the past few thousand years, you have to figure everything out for yourself. This is, of course, highly restrictive and counterproductive.

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If you fail to master a profession or learn how to think in a structured and disciplined way, then you’ll probably have some problems including:
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Five Minds for the Future

You won’t be in a position to participate fully in the world of commerce or other areas because you don’t understand how human progress has unfolded in the past. You’ll be limited to your own thinking rather than knowing how to access the output of some of the finest minds ever to turn to a subject. You’ll be less equipped to understand the significance of current events, new scientific breakthroughs, new regulations being proposed and so forth. In other words, you won’t be able to have informed opinions about anything of consequence. You’ll feel alienated from the rest of society and be relegated to watching things happen rather than making things happen. You’ll be completely dependant on others to make key decisions about matters of public health, regulation and the future of society.

2. The Synthesizing Mind

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With so much information now being available, the ability to synthesize or to knit together information from a variety of sources into coherent ideas is very important. Unless you learn how to do this for yourself, you’re going to be overwhelmed by the flood of information which will confront you every day of your career. More and more, the job description of all kinds of jobs in the future will call for synthesis. Unless you can place the current state of knowledge in its proper context, it’s very hard to come up with anything new.

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In short, mastering a professional discipline lays a solid foundation for success, even if you then choose to work in a completely different field. You achieve genuine understanding of the world rather than just a superficial appreciation for what’s happening. You will also see why ongoing learning is a lifetime necessity rather than a one-time event. Anyone who has mastered a professional discipline understands the importance of staying current with the new knowledge which is constantly being developed and propagated in their field. Disciplined individuals continue to learn not because they are preparing for an end-of-year exam but because they are passionate about the process of learning and appreciate the benefits to be derived therefrom. “The disciplined mind has mastered at least one way of thinking – a distinctive mode of cognition that characterizes a specific scholarly discipline, craft or profession. Much research confirms that it takes up to ten years to master a discipline. The disciplined mind also knows how to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding – in the vernacular, it is highly disciplined. Without at least one discipline under his belt, the individual is destined to march to someone else’s orders.” – Howard Gardner “Like the most salient experiences of life, the achievement of disciplinary understanding breeds a desire for more. Once one has understood well a particular play, a particular war, a particular physical or biological or managerial concept, the appetite has been whetted for additional and deeper understanding, and for clear-cut performances in which one’s understanding can be demonstrated to others and to oneself. Indeed, the genuine understander is unlikely in the future to accept only superficial understandings. Rather, having eaten from the tree of understanding, he or she is likely to return there repeatedly for ever more satisfying intellectual nourishment.” – Howard Gardner “It does not help to simply understand that a lawyer or engineer or manager thinks differently; placed in the shoes of the lawyer, engineer or manager, one must act differently as well. Thinking and action are more closely allied than ever before.” – Howard Gardner

“Individuals without synthesizing capabilities will be overwhelmed by information and unable to make judicious decisions about personal or professional matters.” – Howard Gardner By many estimates, the amount of accumulated information doubles every two to three years. The ability to access those vast sources of information and give them coherence and integration will be at a premium in the twenty-first century. A synthesis can take any of several forms:
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A narrative or story – which illustrates one or more principles. A taxonomy or system – such as the double-entry balance sheet commonly used in annual reports. These systems may also be presented in charts or tables like the periodic table for example. A complex concept – which blends or ties together a range of different phenomena. Good examples of this are the business cycle, price-earnings ratios and the 80/20 principle. Rules-of-thumb and what can be termed “folk wisdom” – which often encapsulates sound ideas. Examples: “Think before you act”, “Don’t try to keep too many balls in the air at the same time” or even “Always diversify your portfolio”. Commonly used metaphors, images and themes – which bring arcane ideas to life by giving them a graphic element. A good example of this was economist Adam Smith who characterized the self-regulatory nature of free markets as being guided by an invisible hand. Companies create brands which are a combination of words, graphics and jingles for this same reason. Embodiments of ideas in works of art – for example Michelangelo’s illustration of various biblical events on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. These works of art can synthesize lots of different ideas and bring them together in one place. Theories – which amalgamate a number of different concepts. Adam Smith’s theory of a market economy combined the ideas of supply and demand, labor and production, profit and loss into one unified concept. Metatheories – or overall frameworks for knowledge. Metatheories attempt to bring together a number of theories into one structured and unified whole. Physicists have been attempting to develop a single theory which will unite the different branches of physics into one for many years without any success yet. The same attempts are also being made in numerous other fields.

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Any good synthesis attempt will have four essential components: 1 2 3 4 A goal A starting point Selection of approach Drafts and feedback Synthesis

To come up with a robust synthesis is difficult because anyone who is trained professionally has mastered disciplines which are unique to his or her chosen field of specialization. To leap with equal competence into entirely different areas of specialization simply isn’t credible but a good synthesis enables these creative leaps to happen. This cross pollination of ideas from one field injected into another entirely different subject area has produced some stunning business breakthroughs, and will likely do so again in the future. As the business world’s ability to generate new information continues to accelerate in the foreseeable future, the ability to give this information genuine context also increases in value. The key to being able to do this is to generate robust interdisciplinary or cross-functional thoughts. If your organization aspires to be well positioned in the future, train more people on how to develop a world-class synthesis of the facts. “There are two kinds of truth, deep truth and shallow truth, and the function of science is to eliminate the deep truth.” – Neils Bohr, physicist “We live in a time where our most talented minds know more and more about increasingly narrow spheres. The division of labor that Adam Smith noted in the marketplace of commerce has swept the marketplace of ideas as well. And there is no reason to expect the drive toward specialization will be stemmed – or even that it would be a good idea to put the brakes on heightened ‘laser’ disciplinary exploration. We need role models – individuals who are themselves good at synthesizing. We also need criteria that establishes the difference between excellent, adequate, and inappropriate integrations. And we must accept that these criteria are mission- or topic-specific. What counts as a good synthesis in evolutionary biology may differ markedly from an integration that is appropriate for the arts or commerce. A synthesis suitable for determining the limits of complexity theory may bear little resemblance to a synthesis adequate for addressing the eradication of poverty or the control of the AIDS epidemic.” – Howard Gardner “I think intellect is a good thing unless it paralyzes your ability to make decisions because you see too much complexity. Presidents need to have what I would call a synthesizing intelligence.” – Bill Clinton “Synthesizing massive amounts of data, intelligence, slants, opinions, tactics, and trying to maintain a strategic big picture was a challenge. You feel it creeping up into your brain alike a numbing cold and you just have to choke it down, sift faster, and stay with it. It’s challenging to be sure, but if you practice it, you develop a good tool for the leadership toolbox.” – Richard Severs, navy captain “Whether one is working at a university, a law firm, or a corporation, the job of manager calls for synthesis. The manager must consider the job to be done, the various workers on hand, their current assignments and skills, and how best to execute the current priority and move on to the next one. A good manager also looks back over what has been done in the past months and tries to anticipate how best to carry out future missions. And of course, synthesizing the current state of knowledge, incorporating new findings is part and parcel of the work.” – Howard Gardner

1. A goal – you state what you’re actually trying to achieve with your synthesis. 2. A starting pint – the idea, image or previous work on which you are attempting to build your synthesis. Darwin developed his theory of evolution based on matching earlier evolutionary theories to his field observations made while travelling on the Beagle. 3. Selection of approach – the strategy and method you are choosing to use. If you’re developing a business plan as a synthesis, for example, you would probably consult experts, do some test marketing, run focus groups and then make financial projections based on extrapolations of data samples. Every synthesis has to have some method on how things are to be done. 4. Drafts and feedback – sooner or later the material has to be put together and then shown to others for their feedback. First drafts of anything are usually reasonably primitive and it isn’t until the later reworkings of the synthesis that the real polish is applied. The most ambitious of any synthesis is when a person takes ideas from one discipline or field and applies them to another with great success. If this integration of ideas is handled well, synergy can be created which hopefully will lead to greater value further down the track. In the business context, an interdisciplinary synthesis is more often termed as being “cross-functional” because it combines the input of inventors, designers, marketers, the manufacturing team and so forth. There are three different contexts in which interdisciplinary synthesis really comes into its own: 1 Interdisciplinary Synthesis 2 3 Test a new concept Understand a phenomena Solve an emerging problem

1. To test a new concept – for example a disruptive new technology has been developed and your management team wants to forecast what will be the flow-on impact. 2. To understand a new phenomena – such as when a new drug turns out to generate toxic side effects in a small proportion of the population and a way forward needs to be agreed upon. 3. To develop a solution for some pressing new problem – which is beyond the scope of any individual discipline to handle. Typically, the challenges facing society (poverty, pollution, terrorism) can’t be addressed unless numerous disciplines and specialties are combined in the overall effort.

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Five Minds for the Future

3. The Creative Mind

Interestingly, 5-year-old children are inherently creative and the more education they get, the less creative they tend to become. The challenge of formal education is to find ways to retain childlike sensibilities and preserve those creative instincts even while honing the disciplines which will also be required. Almost every commercial enterprise of any note prides itself on being creative, and yet it is rare for any company to actually walk the talk. Instead, all too often creativity is relegated to some “skunkworks” project team while everyone else is encouraged not to use any originality in dealing with customers, expressing political views or even breaking the corporate dress code. Experience has shown this divide-and-conquer approach to creativity rarely lasts and only those organizations which have creativity embedded in their DNA ultimately end up being sources of creative thinking. Rather than viewing creativity as a separate activity, consider how a company like 3M harnesses its own in-house creative abilities and talents:
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The creative mind builds on discipline and synthesis to put forward new ideas, fresh thinking and unexpected solutions to problems. Creativity and originality have always been highly valued in business and the ability to go beyond existing boundaries and fashion ideas which stretch the boundaries of what’s possible will remain highly valued in the future. It is entirely feasible in the future, those corporations which embrace innovation will outperform by a considerable margin those that do not. Creativity actually rests on a foundation of effective synthesis. Sometimes, developing a synthesis will be quite straightforward while at other times, a creative leap of one kind or another will be required. Creativity is the ability to stretch in new directions without losing touch with the realities involved. It is only in recent times creativity has been highly sought after. For much of human history, those who came up with new ideas which went against conventional wisdom were ridiculed and strongly discouraged. It’s really only in the modern era that creativity has been considered to confer a sustainable competitive advantage as has been evidenced by the commercial success of the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, the personal computer, the Internet and the cell phone. So where, exactly, does the spark of creativity come from? The answer to this question has also undergone some radical changes throughout history:
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The company’s managers are individuals who have a proven track record of success in developing new products. Promotions and other rewards are offered to those who come up with new ideas. The company’s leadership teams works closely with early adopters of new products to ensure what gets developed will actually fit real world needs. Those who think outside the box are given a lot of latitude to run with their ideas and see how they pan out. There is a general understanding of the fact creativity is risky and success can never be guaranteed.

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At one time, creativity stressed either the role of the divine or the random roll of the dice. It was assumed creative individuals were touched with some mysterious inspiration which you either had or you did not. This was followed by the era of lateral thinking – which is the capacity to take a framework which applies in one sphere and apply it in a completely different setting. It was later acknowledged creativity was not always one-size-fits-all. The idea of a lone inventor having a sudden “Aha!” burst of creative thought makes for good press but it doesn’t always sync with reality. Instead, it was realized creativity is the occasional result when three independent elements are brought together: • An individual who has mastered some discipline. • An identified need or a problem to solve. • Access to peers who can validate the breakthrough. It is now considered breakthrough products exert a genuine and measurable influence on subsequent work in that same domain. Genuinely creative products impact on all other products which get subsequently developed for that domain or area of commercial activity.

While historically the concept of a lone inventor coming up with a breakthrough idea has been enshrined as the “poster child” of creativity, in most real world situations a huge team is required to actually get things done. Teams may take two different forms: 1. A project team may come together – where a large ensemble of specialists in their field gather for a brief period of time, apply their skills and then disband and move on to the next assignment somewhere else. This is the Hollywood-inspired team approach which has worked exceptionally well for making motion pictures. 2. The alternative is termed “the wisdom of crowds” – where hundreds or even thousands of people each contribute something to a project which combined is superior to anything any single person could have produced on their own. This is the phenomena which is at work to decide Google search engine ratings, to make recommendations about books on Amazon, to develop open source software or to compile Wikipedia the online encyclopedia. Some types of creative assignments – like addressing poverty or racism – are unlikely to be addressed by solutions offered by the public at large so there are situations where individual creativity is still required. However, in many other areas, the combined suggestions of a large number of people can be highly useful. A hybrid approach which combines the best features of both is also feasible. In appointing a new university president, developing a short list from public suggestions of candidates worth considering has merits but making the appointment as the result of an election process is problematic. It’s usually better for a small group of knowledgeable insiders who have hands-on experience in the field to make that final selection. This hybrid approach has genuine benefits and advantages.

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Obviously to be creative, you need to have a generous supply of intelligence, skill and discipline. You also require a temperament which means you are dissatisfied with current standards and prepared to strike out in new directions. Then, when an anomaly does arise, you need to be able to decide whether this was just a trivial error, an unrepeatable fluke or a genuine breakthrough which is based on some hitherto unknown facts. To be creative, you need to be prepared to fail a great many times before you forge a creative achievement.

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There are some obvious parallels between synthesizing existing information and creating new ideas. Both require multiple examples to be analyzed and extrapolated and both tend to demand the development of multiple representations of the same topic. In fact some of the most creative new ideas have actually sprung from attempts to synthesize that have gone off on an unexpected tangent. But the differences between creating and synthesizing are also quite obvious:
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Five Minds for the Future

4. The Respectful Mind

The synthesizer is attempting to structure what is already known so there is order and hopefully closure. The creator’s goal is to extend the knowledge of the field and to come up with something new and exciting.

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No society or organization can be composed entirely of creators because they are by nature too destabilizing. Innovators need those with synthesizing skills as well as others with practical know-how to come along after them and handle all the practicalities involved. In a corporate setting, managers and leaders need to be good at synthesis whereas the business leaders assume a wider perspective and inject some creativity into the organization’s goals and objectives. What will the creativity of the future look like? Up until this point in time, creativity has always been a human-centered activity. Places like Silicon Valley have excelled because they have attracted a critical mass of talented people. In the years ahead, however, three new players will also enter the race to come up with new and creative ideas: 1. Neuroscience will identify which human genes contribute to creative activities. Individuals who have the right biological makeup may be identified and steered towards creative activities, possibly leading to the establishment of new centers of creative excellence around these superstar creators. 2. Artificial intelligence will continue to advance in scope and power. Computer programs will be developed which will yield new works of art, improved commercial designs and new scientific theories. Computer simulation of the human intellect will continue to improve steadily and thereby open up all kinds of new possibilities. 3. Computers will continue to increase in power and therefore will become even more useful partners in the creative process. Already computers are being used to crunch through massive amounts of data that would have been inconceivable a few years ago. Architects are today able to test their designs under a much broader range of operating parameters than ever before. Using expanding computer power as a tool will greatly enhance the creative output of some very smart people. “Major creative breakthroughs are relatively rare in accounting or engineering, in law or medicine. Indeed, one does well to be suspicious of claims that a radically new method of accounting, bridge building, surgery, prosecution, or generating energy has just been devised. Increasingly, however, rewards accrue to those who fashion small but significant changes in professional practice. I would readily apply the descriptor ‘creative’ to the individual who figures out how to audit books in a country whose laws have been changed and whose currency has been revalued three times in a year, or to the attorney who ascertains how to protect intellectual property under conditions of monetary (or political or social or technological) volatility.” – Howard Gardner

Respect deals directly with our relations with other human beings. Nowadays, it is impossible to do business without considering how what you do impacts on others. To be respectful means you welcome differences, you try to understand where others are coming from and you attempt to work harmoniously with them. In the modern interconnected world, if you show intolerance or disrespect word will get around and your actions will come back to haunt you. You need to be worthy of respect to prosper in the future.

“Individuals without respect will not be worthy of respect by others and will poison the workplace and the commons.” – Howard Gardner Humans have always exhibited a deep-seated need to create groups and to provide distinctive markings for those groups. It is then easy for people to adopt clearly positive attitudes towards groups they identify with and equally obvious negative attitudes towards rival groups. This is why fights break out over soccer teams, between Catholics and Protestants and even between users of one computer operating system and another. In the present era, however, things are somewhat different. This is the age of mass weaponry – nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry which has the power not only to readily cross territorial boundaries but also to render the world uninhabitable. Today, war on a global scale is clearly recognized as a zero-sum exercise which nobody ends up winning regardless of who is left standing at the end. Everyone readily acknowledges it is now impossible to outlaw war and weapons altogether, so a different tack is required. “In a world composed of a few hundred nations, thousands of groups speaking thousands of languages, and more than 6 billion inhabitants, what is a reasonable goal? Clearly, we can no longer simply draw a curtain or build a wall that isolates groups from one another indefinitely. We homo sapiens must somehow learn how to inhabit neighboring places – and the same planet – without hating one another, without lusting to injure or kill one another, without acting on xenophobic inclinations even if our own group might emerge triumphant in the short run. I prefer the concept of respect. Rather than ignoring differences, being inflamed by them, or seeking to annihilate them through love or hate, I call on human beings to accept the differences, learn to live with them, and value those who belong to other cohorts.” – Howard Gardner To respect the people you do business with doesn’t mean to suspend judgement. Instead, it means to treat each person on their own merits rather than to group people together by some arbitrary yardstick such as the color of their skin, their political point-of-view or the religion of their choice. Some other points to remember with regards to respect are:
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Avoid attaching any moral significance to group membership – because its always difficult to state definitively Group A is better than Group B. In making these kinds of judgement calls, all you’re doing is reflecting your own personal biases and preferences. Accept that almost all groups have some positive elements and some negative and leave it at that.

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Messages of either respect or disrespect will be mirrored by your organization – whether you know it or not. If your company states 20-percent of its workforce are African American, people will soon pick up on whether the blacks fill the boardroom and the management ranks or simply act as receptionists. This is a case of what you do speaks volumes, much more than what your organization says it does. Avoid signs of false respect – like that commonly termed as “kissing up and kicking down”. Make certain those who are appointed to positions of power get there because of their genuine merits rather than on the strength of their ability to flatter and serve those who already occupy the positions of power. Watch out for examples of “political correctness” – the practice of speaking positively of a certain group solely because that group has been poorly treated in the past. Political correctness conveys disrespect because it involves acting towards a person because of the group they belong to rather than on the merits of their individual behavior.

Five Minds for the Future

5. The Ethical Mind

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Ethics has moved to center stage with all of the corporate accounting scandals which have made the news in recent years. In simple terms, ethics is about understanding your role as a worker or as a citizen and acting accordingly. You have to act in ways which are consistent with your personal beliefs and which can withstand scrutiny should the tables be turned at some point in the future. To act ethically means for you and your organization to do all those things which will make you proud rather than hiding in a veil of ignorance. For an individual or an organization to do “good” and “ethical” work, there are three different facets involved: 1. Work can be termed good when it is excellent in nature and is the result of highly disciplined effort on the part of someone who is skilled at what they do. 2. Work can be good when it is responsible in that it takes into account its implications for the wider community as a whole. 3. Work can be good in terms of it feels productive, engaging and meaningful for those who have hands-on involvement. If that same individual or organization cuts corners or fails to meet industry or society’s standards, what ends up being produced will be termed as “compromised”. Ethics is all about doing good work and avoiding producing work which is compromised or tainted in any way. At a personal level, ethical behavior is usually quite obvious to figure out. To get a reading on where you’re at, consider questions like these:
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The value of respect to a commercial enterprise is readily apparent. When respect is present:
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Organizations and communities work more effectively – because the individuals involved work hard to understand each other and then to work towards common goals. Leaders can focus on positive themes and objectives – rather than endlessly focusing on competitors as “the enemy”. After all, it isn’t unusual for people who work for one organization to end up working for one of their rivals later in their careers, or even for the two companies to be merged in the future. Teamwork will flourish – because everyone will be confident their suggestions are being taken seriously rather than being dismissed out of hand. Decision making will become more widespread – because people will be far more proactive in making things happen. They won’t merely sit back and expect the leader to do everything themselves. As decision making becomes more inclusive, there will also be greater buy-in for what is decided by the rank-and-file. Companies will be able to get more products out of the lab and into the marketplace – because the managers will understand and respect the engineers and vice versa. Instead of wearing their respective hats in an adversarial atmosphere, everyone will be focused on bottom line results. Managers will get more done by discussion and mutual agreement than they ever could hope to achieve through bullying and intimidation.

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“What does it mean to me at the present time to be a lawyer / physician / engineer / business manager / educator?” “What are the rights, obligations and responsibilities which I signed on for when I entered this profession?” “What does it mean to me personally to be a citizen of my neighborhood / city / region/ country / planet?” “What do I feel I owe to others, especially to those who through circumstances beyond their control or bad luck are less fortunate than I am?”

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“A person who is determined to do something constructive with his life needs to come to terms with the fact not everyone is going to love him.” – Daniel Barenboim, Jewish pianist and conductor “Whether you are writing, researching or managing, it is important to avoid stereotyping or caricaturing. You must try to understand other persons on their own terms, make an imaginative leap when necessary, seek to convey trust and try so far as possible to make common cause with them and to be worthy of their trust. You are obliged to make the effort, and not merely to assume that what you once believed on the basis of scattered impressions is necessarily true.” – Howard Gardner

To act ethically on an ongoing basis, you have to step back from time to time and conceptualize for yourself how you see the nature of your work and the community in which you operate. To act ethically, you need an abstract attitude – the ability and capacity to reflect on what you’re doing, and then to follow through on the choices you make. There is no “magic formula” which can guarantee people will develop ethical minds. There are, however, a few guidelines worth considering:
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Children gain their perspective on what it means to act ethically first by observing their parents. If they see firsthand their parents doing things which are good for society even when nobody else is watching, children will develop an awareness of ethics. By contrast, if children see their parents only doing the right thing when compelled by law, they will probably view ethics as a sometimes thing rather than a sound way of life.

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For the first few decades of life, most people are engaged in gaining an education. Teachers and formal education play key roles in encouraging young people to do good work and have active citizenship practices. New employees take their cues for ethical behavior from their peers and from their superiors. If they observe their friends and associates paying lip service to ethics but then doing whatever they want, new employees will get the message anything goes. This will be reinforced if they then see their superiors crossing ethical lines and favoring those employees who follow suit.

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More and more, business ethics are moving to center stage. If you’re hoping to attract high quality talent to your organization, you have to act transparently and ethically. Definitions may differ but the litmus test of an ethical organization has always been: “Does what we do make for a better organization, a better city, a better nation and a better world?” Increasingly, people will choose occupations and organizations which are helping bring a better world into reality. “Individuals without ethics will yield a world devoid of decent workers and responsible citizens; none of us will want to live on that desolate planet.” – Howard Gardner “He is certainly not a good citizen who does not wish to promote, by every means of his power, the welfare of the whole society of his fellow citizens.” – Adam Smith “When everything that matters can be brought and sold, when commitments can be broken because they are no longer to our advantage, when shopping becomes salvation and advertising slogans become our litany, when our worth is measured by how much we earn and spend, then the market is destroying the very virtues on which in the long run it depend.” – Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Britain “Perhaps there are no truly universal ethics: or to put it more precisely, the ways in which ethical principles are interpreted will inevitably differ across cultures and eras. Yet, these differences arise chiefly at the margins. All known societies embrace the virtues of truthfulness, integrity, loyalty, fairness; none explicitly endorse falsehood, dishonesty, disloyalty, gross inequity.” – Howard Gardner “At the start of the third millennia, we live in a time of vast changes – changes seemingly so epochal that they may well dwarf those experienced in earlier eras. In shorthand, we can speak about these changes as entailing the power of science and technology and the inexorability of globalization. These changes call for new educational forms and processes. The minds of learners must be fashioned and stretched in five ways that have not been crucial – or not as crucial – until now. How prescient were the words of Winston Churchill: ‘The empires of the future will be empires of the mind’. We must recognize what is called for in this new world – even as we hold on to certain perennial skills and values that may be at risk.” – Howard Gardner “With these minds, a person will be well equipped to deal with what is expected, as well as what cannot be anticipated; without these minds, a person will be at the mercy of forces that he or she can’t understand, let alone control.” – Howard Gardner

In the end, ethics is all about doing good work that you and your organization can be proud of. A person with a strong ethical grounding still keeps on trying to do good work even when the going gets tough. The signposts towards the achievement of this good work can be summarized in the four Ms of ethics: Mirror test – Professional

M

Mission

M

Ethics

M

Models

M

Mirror test – Individual

1. Mission – Whether at school or in the workplace, an individual needs to specify what he or she is trying to achieve. The absence of any goals means the person will be directionless which usually leads to trouble. 2. Models – It’s vital for individuals who aspire to do good work to have strong role models – people who embody what is desired. This conveys the sense that everything can be done ethically and properly. 3. Mirror test – Individual version – Aspiring good workers need to be able to look in the mirror and like what they see. There needs to be a sense if everything you did was printed in the local newspaper, you’d feel proud rather than ashamed. 4. Mirror test – Professional version – If you’re doing good work personally but the organization you belong to is acting unprofessionally or even illegally, then problems lie ahead. You can’t belong to an organization you’re deeply ashamed of and do good work. You have to look at your peers.

1. The Disciplined Mind

2. The Synthesizing Mind

3. The Creative Mind

4. The Respectful Mind

5. The Ethical Mind

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