Can advancements in educational models and corporate innovation be shared to become mutually beneficial? Can higher education and industry develop common goals and methodologies to foster creativity and make the transition from education to corporate innovation seamless?
Educational institutions and corporations, learning from each other
The need for innovation within corporations and higher education is accelerating due to the disruptive impact of evolving technology. As a result, greater emphasis is being placed on inquiry-based learning and the development of a creative mindset. To meet these needs, comprehensive approaches are being developed for discovery, knowledge transfer, problem-solving and assessment within a shortened timeframe. As corporations integrate learning models into their culture, and educational institutions adjust to the economics of a changing job market, can they learn from each other? Can they develop a cooperative R&D approach to foster creative skill sets for future generations? And what would be the relationship?
The learning organization
A learning organization is the business term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. The concept was coined through the work and research of Peter Senge and his colleagues. When his book, The Fifth Discipline was first published in the 1990s, the concept gained wide popularity, yet subsequently faded due to obstacles in implementation. Since then, advancements in technology, educational tools, communication, and innovation have made the learning organization more plausible and actionable. And as the computational power of computers advance into cognitive roles, they will need to train employees in creative thinking and problem-solving. Organizations will increasingly depend on educational institutions to develop employees with these attributes.
The business of learning in higher education.
With the advent of the internet, knowledge has become ubiquitous and accessible to anyone with a computer and a wifi connection. This has required a re-evaluation of the role of educational organizations, both public and private. Universities and colleges are impacted by the same business dynamics found in Fortune 500 companies. There are customers, competitors, and fiscal responsibilities. And as higher education is disrupted with open educational resources and sophisticated online learning platforms, the purpose of brick and mortar institutions is being redefined. Maintaining relevance will require new pedagogical approaches centered on inquiry-based learning, adaptive curriculum, and mobile technology. Their shift will focus on learning how to learn, how to collaborate, and how to manage ambiguity. It will be social and adaptive, adjusting to changing and unpredictable dynamics, and it will reflect the agile culture and technology used by innovative corporations and future generations.
The creative connection
Creativity is the connective tissue between learning and innovation. It explores the mysteries of the human experience and expresses them into tangible forms. The ability to creatively solve problems and adapt to ambiguity will be central to future economic growth.
The knowledge transfer between academia and industry Innovation has traditionally relied on research papers appearing in academic journals. Innovation within traditional corporations has been restricted to R&D departments.
As the two worlds evolve and become intertwined, what methodologies, philosophies, and resources can they share?
A symbiotic relationship between industry and education will ensure short-term and long-term skills are being developed for mutual interest and benefit. What would be the model for that relationship?
Can a shared process accelerate true creativity?
Roger Martin, one of the pioneers of the Design Thinking movement, has pointed out an inherent conundrum in the desire for creativity that is connected to a business enterprise. On one end of the business pipeline are the efficiencies and predictable outcomes coming from manufacturing algorithms. They provide the economic benefits of scale. On the other end is the need for disruption, innovation, and fresh thinking. They ensure the algorithm doesn’t become outdated.
Ed Catmull, the founder of Pixar, describes it as balancing the needs of the Baby (the fragile creative idea) and the Beast (corporate deadlines, budgets, and revenue). With shortened deadlines and increased volume, there is a need to accelerate the integration of creative solutions into the manufacturing algorithm. A variety of tools and processes are needed to assist in the output of “predictable creativity”.
What methods can be shared between corporations and educational institutions to accelerate creative problem-solving? Can life-long learning be a goal for everyone?