Innovation, eNgagement and Character
Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
– C.S. Lewis
For the last 200 years, many nations have followed a very simple success formula: SUCCESS = INTELLIGENCE + EDUCATION. The idea was that intelligence is equally distributed across cultures, but unless one is given the body of knowledge and skills necessary for achievement, their intelligence potential will lie dormant.
What if Einstein had been born in an aboriginal society? He may have made a better spear, which is great, but he would not have helped create the modern world. Everyone’s potential is enhanced by education.
As important as intelligence quotient (IQ) is, there is something of equal, if not greater, importance – our individual and collective innovation quotient.
This was dramatically revealed during WWII. There were many factors that facilitated our victory, but one key element was how Americans solved problems. Most of our soldiers came from rural areas, where if your tractor, plow or bailer broke, you had to fix it. So, when our G.I.s were faced with a combat problem, they went about figuring out how to solve it.
The Germans were trained in a hierarchal system, where they had to make sure every action was approved by the chain of command. Or, “We have to ask people smarter than we are what to do,” which hampered their ability to think and adapt independently on the battlefield.
This is also how democracy (and capitalism) beat communism in the marketplace. Central to socialism is the idea that, “the smart people will show us what to do.”
Secondly, as significant as intelligence is, something beats it every time: eNgagement, also known as
Sometimes our educational system so focuses on and promotes the intelligence quotient, that innovation and engagement become secondary. Businesses, in most cases, do not make this mistake. Many CEOs and successful entrepreneurs have said, “I wasn’t at the top of my class.” Some have even admitted, “I wasn’t in class.” But when they engaged in a business pursuit, they took off.
It is not only the entrepreneurs. Who are the successful musicians, artists and athletes? Passion often
I am not knocking education. According to Abram Walton, Ph.D., the professor of management at FIT, innovation and engagement can be taught; it can be tracked in an organization and it can be monetized.
The third crucial element in the New INC. – character – is something our school system used to put a major emphasis on. It explains why most lottery winners and many overnight successes have little to show for it when all is said and done.
Character enables the synergy of innovation and engagement with others, which is the springboard
Of all the qualities, this is the one that will get an intelligent person into Harvard instead of Raiford. C.S. Lewis was right when he said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”