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Davos Day Two--It's All About Seeing Around The Corner.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 25, 2007

I shuffled through the snow (yep we got some and the Davosians are happy) to attend a workshop in the Future Series called Building The Skills of Tomorrow. Azim Premji, the head of Wipro, was in my group and he was brilliant. After lots of blah blah about government policy and education and business, he said it was all about finding people who could “see around corners.”

Wow, talk about a phrase that captures design thinking and innovation—teaching people the skills of developing options and scenarios of the future, prototyping and testing them, listening to customers and clients, the whole package of methodologies that go with innovation. Seeing around the corner. Thank you Azim (it’s Davos, you first-name everyone).

We talked mainly about B-school education. Here’s why B-schools are not educating people to be creative. B-school’s teach students to deconstruct, to break down existing problems and solve them. They do not teach people to construct, to integrate information to suggest options for the future. Roger Martin calls this integrative thinking. Tim Brown of IDEO calls it design thinking. Call it a banana but understand that we now have an alternative way of thinking about the world that promotes innovation and bottom line growth.

What should people take away from their graduate education? Here are the traits, according to a roomful of B-school deans from Wharton, Insead, British Columbia plus business people and government education policy makers:

1) A global mindset
2) Collaborative skills
3) Creativity
4) Innovation skills/Entrepreneurship
5) Deep Verticles in at least one functional area.

That’s a little different from the financial engineering, Six Sigma, deconstructionist education people are now getting.

The always brilliant Laura Tyson, now back at the Berkeley B-school after heading the London Business School, suggested that schools look to the gaming culture and gaming technology to teach business skills.

Reader Comments

Scott Frondorf

January 25, 2007 10:25 PM

"See around corners" - that's exactly what gamers do. In order to survive and level-up, they rely on different points of view (map views, resource views, etc.), exploration of the perimeter (or boundaries) and collaboration. Laura Tyson is right - gamers are being educated to be innovative whether they know it or not. John Seely Brown has referred to the MMORPG, World of Warcraft, as leadership in a box. (see: In a funny twist these games, which B-school students play to blow off some steam, are often the edcuation they get in innovation.

Diego Rodriguez

January 26, 2007 2:07 AM

Banana, indeed!

I'd love to hear more about that last point -- using gaming culture and technology to teach business skills. Wow! WoW!

Post a comment



Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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