Joe’s Journal: On Innovation and Change

“Every few hundred years there occurs a sharp transformation. We cross a ‘divide.’ Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structure, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world. The people born after the transformation cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. But today’s fundamental changes, these new realities visible 30 years ago, are actually only beginning and just about to have their full impacts.” — Peter F. Drucker

Peter Drucker’s overall body of work is focused upon managing the discontinuities in society by using the twin processes of innovation and change. The knowledge society, which Drucker tracked for almost 50 years, has now arrived in full force, and it is global in scope. That means the school and the university have become the institutions of society that must succeed if we, our organizations and our nation are to be globally competitive.

[EXPAND More]Knowledge is freely accessible over the Internet, and it knows no bounds. This intensifies competition. And it underlies the need for innovation in education, especially in higher education but also in primary and secondary education. We must acquire new knowledge in fields other than our own because innovation in one knowledge area often comes from breakthroughs in another.

This means we must all become technologically literate. We must educate our students both deeply and broadly. And that education must include education in specific techniques as well as in different cultures and values. Education cannot only be in Western Civilization, but it must include Western Civilization. In short, our university graduates must become a greater proportion of the population and must know more than their predecessors. This can only be accomplished if we open higher education to all and make the kind of innovations that are necessary to make higher education affordable to all.  This surely includes distance education, both because of the economics and because it will allow us to draw upon rich wisdom from other nations and cultures.

Drucker believed that the purpose of education was to change lives. And that is the why he focused so much on process, on understanding enduring problems and on posing enduring questions such as, “What do you want to be remembered for?” I offer these thoughts to you to probe. I hope they help you in your work and life.[/EXPAND]