Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Albrecht on Imagination (4)

What importance does human imagination play in the overall success of an organisation?
Karl Albrecht: In all of the developed economies, organisations are shifting from "thing-work" to "think-work." This applies to government and the non-profit sector as well as the corporate sector. In the knowledge economy, fewer and fewer people make their living by making things, and more of them make their living by working with data, information, and knowledge. This means that practical thinking skills - including imagination, but certainly not limited to that - will be ever more in demand.

HR experts predict an increasingly severe "smart gap," meaning that we'll have a tougher time finding employees who can think beyond their noses. Inasmuch as the public education systems are failing miserably to provide us with the smart people we need, we will find it necessary to grow our own smart people. I believe more and more organisations will take up the role of educator of last resort, and invest more heavily in the mental competence of their workers.
At a time when companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on information technology - the machine software - they've so far not seen fit to spend a few tens of thousands of dollars on improving the mental skills of their employees - the human software. As we begin to realize how much of the IT investment is being wasted or misdirected, I believe we'll be spending less on the machine software and more on the human software.