Business leaders around the world have told me that they despair of finding people who can help them solve wicked problems — or even get their heads around them. It’s not that firms don’t have smart people working with them. There are plenty of MBAs and even Ph.Ds in economics, chemistry, or computer science, in the corporate ranks. Intellectual wattage is not lacking. It’s the right intellectual wattage that’s hard to find. They simply don’t have enough people with the right backgrounds.
This is because our educational systems focus on teaching science and business students to control, predict, verify, guarantee, and test data. It doesn’t teach how to navigate “what if” questions or unknown futures. As Amos Shapira, the CEO of Cellcom, the leading cell phone provider in Israel, put it: “The knowledge I use as CEO can be acquired in two weeks…The main thing a student needs to be taught is how to study and analyze things (including) history and philosophy.”
People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.
Businesses Find the Right Intellectual Wattage in Students of the Humanities
Harvard Business Review
"Want Innovative Thinking?: Hire from the Humanities"
March 31, 2011
In this convincing piece published in Harvard Business Review, Tony Golsby-Smith--Founder and CEO of Second Road, a business design and transformation firm headquartered in Sydney, Australia -- effectively argues that the best students to hire are those with degrees in the Humanities because, he says, they are trained to think about complex and ambiguous problems, are able to see the big picture, have inherent out-of-the box creativity skills, effectively communicate in writing and in person, and are keen observers of human behavior. Other skills employers find incredibly valuable in students of the Humanities are those related to ethical thinking, global cultural expression and understanding, and a better historical contextual understanding of the past and the future.read more at hbr.org »