11.09 20120

21st Century Learning

By: michelemuse Categories:Agile

What does it take to be successful in the 21st century? Daniel Pink predicted that it takes “a whole new mind.”  Our society has moved through several revolutions of thought related to business.  We began as an agricultural society, where farmers dominated the economic scene.  We then moved into the Industrial Age, where factory workers were the critical component of production.  With the invention and progression of computer technology, the third age became known as the Information Age, where knowledge workers became dominant producers.  Many people believe that we still live in the Information Age, but Pink asserted in his book A Whole New Mind, that we are at the dawn of a new age… the Conceptual Age, where creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers are at the heart of business production.

Pink noted three trends that have moved our society towards conceptualization.  The first being that we live in a society of abundance, where choices are plentiful, and scarcity is limited.  We also live in a society where outsourcing is widespread, as is computer automation.  When we look to define a new business, we have to ask…can a computer do it faster, or can someone overseas make it cheaper?  Also, we ask, will this product be in demand in an age where consumers already have so much?  Pink asserted that with these factors in mind, our competitive edge must come from our creativity.  We must rely on creativity to differentiate our commodities.

Pink asserted that our product designs must move beyond function to engage the senses.  Our products must tell a story, not just provide an argument.  We must create a product symphony, focusing on the big picture of the product, rather than emphasizing the details.  Also, in the Conceptualization Age, we must use empathy to engage consumers with emotion and intuition, rather than just hard logic, and bring humor and light-heartedness to business and products.  Finally, we need to make products that allow for meaning in the lives of the consumers.

Selling to consumers in the age of an abundance of inexpensive and fast-to-market products requires a change of business practices to promote creativity.  The change in business practices that enables creativity has been underway since 2001, with the development of the Agile Manifesto.  Movement towards organizational agility involves developing a business practice of frequent delivery, with repeated evaluation of objectives and customer satisfaction.  The more creative and unknown the product, the more an organization needs to rely on agile practices.  Agile practices move away from a focus on processes, tools, documentation, contract negotiation and adhering to strict plans.  The agile focus is on individuals and their interactions, working products, customer collaboration and responding to change.

At the Agile 2012 conference in August, I met leaders of CollabNet, a company founded in 1999, that helps organizations transition their cultures to compete in the 21st century by leading companies through agile transformations.  CollabNet Resources offers an abundance of material in regards to Agile and its implementation in organizations.  The website includes blogs, videos, webinars, case studies and white papers, all providing a wealth of wisdom to help an organization become more agile.  The site also hosts a free “Scrum Training Series.”  The company has a tremendous amount of experience providing in-person training, transformation consulting and Agile software implementation, along with providing hybrid cloud and devops integration services.

“Futurist,” Alivn Toffler, stated, “The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  If you are feeling that you need to update your current business practices with a 21st century model that will help you become more innovative and stay closer in touch with your customers and ever-changing compliance rules, then you should learn more about agile practices. CollabNet is a great place to start your transformation.

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