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Acquiring, Evaluating, and Implementing Information in a Knowledge-Driven Economy

(September 2008) posted on Tue Sep 09, 2008

The old saying "knowledge is power" is more true today than ever before. Find out why old ways of thinking and applying information need to be changed in order for business and society to flourish.

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By Mark A. Coudray

The collision comes when the illiterate, poorly educated workforce is increasingly asked to learn more new information faster and to adopt and implement on demand. The situation is further compounded by short-sighted owners and managers who have taken the position of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” By the time they wake up to the fact it’s already broken, it’s simply too late. The market has shifted and they are left behind.

Line workers are also highly fearful of change. It’s difficult enough to do the job in a consistent, predictable manner for even the best employees. When we start throwing new ideas, technologies, and methods at them, panic sets in. It’s not that they don’t want to do the job or learn the new methods. It’s more about the fear of not doing it right and looking bad in the face of the boss. This is the fear-of-failure model.


Failure of higher education

The next hugely serious factor we face is the failure of higher education. I’m talking about high school, community college, and even four-year college programs. Since World War II they’ve focused on delivering passive, risk-averse worker bees to the corporate factories of the world. Industrial-age manufacturing was based on efficiencies. Efficiencies mean there is no room for free thinking, deviation, or questioning of methods. It’s all about standard operating procedures.

The way we educate is at the root cause. The goal is to get an “A” in the class, to avoid average or mediocre performance, and at all costs avoid failure. Good grades mean you will get a better job. This fear of failure is drilled into every student from the time they start first grade. It stands to reason that if you question the established practices, you risk failure and potentially your next wage increase or position promotion. So, the good worker protects himself by staying within the lines, doing nothing to make trouble or call attention to his performance. The best he can hope for is to maximize his performance within the limitations of the existing system.


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