Opportunity has all three.
Human capital is the worlds most wasted resource. At BraveNewTalent we are on a mission to help our clients create more of a meritocracy around their human capital by enabling them to facilitate more effective knowledge sharing. In this blog I wanted to explore the connection between Meritocracy and knowledge sharing.
Most of the world’s knowledge remains locked inside silos. Knowledge is not effectively shared and this creates dire consequences for companies, communities and society at large. I often like to say the majority of solutions to our toughest challenges already exist; they are just not evenly distributed. If we could improve how people share knowledge both inside and outside of the walls of organizations and governments I believe we will have made a huge step towards realizing more peoples potential. In doing so we will create more of a meritocracy in the labor market.
I’ve often argued the formal education system is no longer fit for purpose. It is, in my eyes, the worlds largest ‘middle man’. The formal education system sits between supply of talent (people) and demand on talent (jobs). Year after year the gap between what the education system is producing and what industry is demanding is growing. People often describe this as the growing Skills Gap. But I would argue there is a larger gap out there – the Potential Gap. This is the gap between what you do today and what you could be doing today if you were having impact at your full potential.
This month I attended a summit called Innovation for Jobs held at Google by David Nordfors (Creator of the Stanford Innovation Centre) and Vint Cerf (one of the fathers of the Internet). We debated extensively new innovations in the labor market and consequences of the coming Machine Age among many other things. David published this powerful argument in Techcrunch arguing that a People Centered approach to work as opposed to a Task Centered approach to work could create an additional $140 trillion in annual growth. What David is arguing for here is a meritocracy where everyone had the opportunity to achieve their creative potential in the economy.
The Internet has arguably facilitated the sum total of human knowledge to be accessed to us all. The challenge and the opportunity is the sheer amount of knowledge. In fact in 1900 it took the world 150 years to double its knowledge, in 2010 it was only 3 years. By 2020 we will double every 2 months. We are deal with exponential change around the knowledge we have access to. Another way I like to say this is the ‘Half Life’ of knowledge is getting shorter and shorter.
While knowledge is emerging at an ever-increasing pace, it is taking longer for new knowledge to disseminate through organizations and industries. A new innovation in clinical healthcare for example takes nearly 17 years to mainstream according to research from the National Institutes of Health in the United States.
Historical approaches and tools used for knowledge management were architected in a different era, one that did not present the same scale, scope and cost challenges of today. Knowledge distribution focused on diffusion through tightly controlled disparate networks that more often than not excluded individuals to whom the knowledge would be most beneficial.
Employers need access to workforce participants that not only possess basic knowledge, but that also possess emergent knowledge i.e. knowledge that can only be obtained through emergent work experience or direct interaction with individuals possessing emergent work experience. In certain fields, namely those related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), an educational curriculum developed only two years earlier would be considered obsolete and irrelevant today. Such professions rely on the ongoing attainment of emergent knowledge and the application of it to practical purposes. This ‘half life’ of knowledge is validated by most employers to such an extent that in the Bersin by Deloitte 2014 predictions 60% of employers surveyed sited capability gaps as their number one challenge.
With all this change the opportunity is to use knowledge to unleash human potential and creativity – to ultimately facility meritocracy. However, I believe this is only possible if organizations recognize the need to change the approach to knowledge sharing. In the old world knowledge was power. In this world sharing knowledge has become power.
I would end with the comment ‘Education is what others do to you. Learning is what you do for yourself’.