Higher Education and the Economy
Moises Goldman PhD – resident scientist
In today’s digital environment, the words entrepreneurship and innovation are the flavor of the day. Universities and even certain high schools believe they are preparing their students to go out into the world armed with the necessary tools to excel. But are they?
Consider the following points:
- The “whole” is equal to the sum of its parts.
- The sum of its parts is equal to the “whole”
- The sum of its wholes makes a bigger-and-better “whole.”
This article will focus on the third idea.
Graduate engineers can usually code in various languages—Python, Flash, Java, CSharp, Ruby on Rails. Perhaps they are able to create “apps.” They are specialists. With diligence and luck, they go to work in enterprise and fill specific roles.
In those roles, they create what might be call “parts.” A project manager pulls together all the parts into a “whole.” As typically happens, several of the parts do not fit. The process provides for other specialists that fill the gaps.
I am describing a typical mode of work. Specialists in cubicles re-design parts designed by specialists in other cubicles until the organization achieves a satisfactory whole. This is an iterative process, but not a creative one. Industry blunders forward. By any economic measure, it is grossly inefficient. Where, one may ask, is the root of the problem?
What is Optimal?
We need only ask a few questions:
- Do the individual engineers on any given project understand what impact, implication or influence their developments have on the overall wellness, intent or strategy of the enterprise they serve?
- Do they take into account current policy, regulatory, ethical, or socioeconomic factors?
- Do they are work together—focusing on the whole and not their “part alone?
If the answer to any of these is no, then without a doubt their efforts cannot be optimal.
Universities turn out engineers that are themselves essentially parts. I would argue that they should train-up collaborators adept at comprehending the larger view and better understanding their “part” in the “whole”—in other words, people who are themselves whole.
When each specialist embraces the larger picture, each specialty complements the others. The sum of each whole person makes a bigger-and-better whole project. The sum of the wholes is a bigger-and-better whole.
This article was adapted from a paper for the Institute for Work and the Economy by Moises Goldman PhD. www.workandeconomy.org
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.Copyright © 2013 Moises Goldman – All Rights Reserved
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