Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shift Happens in 4:55

Crisis or Opportunity?

You decide.

In less than five minutes.

And join a select group of more than 10 million other viewers who are "up to speed" on what emerged from a Colorado "Fischbowl".

In the fall of 2006, Colorado high school teacher Karl Fisch was asked to speak at a beginning of the year faculty meeting. To kick start the conversation, he created a powerpoint presentation he posted on his blog known as "The Fischbowl". Karl thought it would be easier that way for other staff members to download it and who knows, maybe one or two other teachers outside the building might find it interesting.

By the end of August 2006, Karl's presentation is spreading, starting with education bloggers; many showing it in staff meetings or to other influential folks. Gradually, it begins to spill into places like area Chambers of Commerces, and some non-education specific bloggers also link to it.

By 2007, over 100,000 people had seen what Karl started.

On January 19, 2007, Dr. Scott McLeod of Iowa State University posts a remixed version adds a MySpace slide, and improves the look before it gets uploaded to YouTube.Since then, Did You Know? went over-the-top viral and continues to work its viral magic.

However, Karl worries part of the message may be taken out of context or used in ways that may not be helpful. He writes, "For example, most of those two million folks that have seen it haven’t read the original blog post, so they don’t know what its intended purpose and audience was (high school teachers thinking about the world our students are entering and wondering how best to help them prepare). Yes, I know I should’ve thought of that before I posted it, but I really, really, really had no idea it would spread like this. Now I know - pun intended".

Karl believes that only with context and conversation can anyone move past the “shock and awe” stage and into the, “Okay, this is also kind of exciting and invigorating. What are we going to do about this?!” stage. One of the problems with Did You Know? is that it doesn’t specifically ask the viewer to do anything at the end. For my intended audience – my staff – the last slide “Now you know . . . ” was an implied challenge.

TSB applauds Karl and his on-line colleagues for summarizing in less time than it takes to navigate a drive-thru, complex issues of globalization first raised in Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat. Hopefully, Did You Know? helps you digest what futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler hinted at with Future Shock; the shattering stress and disorientation induced by subjecting people to too much change in too little time.

Shift happens.


1. How much longer will our world’s economy be managed by elected political leaders and appointed experts?
2. Will education systems re-tool fast enough from what is required for academic success ( largely solitary study - few distractions - single subject concentration - loads of written work) to what is essential for business success (working in teams - constant distractions -multi-disciplined - speaking skills)?
3. Will you and your organization keep up, despite the woeful inability of North American education systems to provide what is required to compete in a global economy?

Marketing guru Seth Godin of Purple Cow fame recently took the textbook industry to task for failing to recognize this shift. In a recent blog post, Seth contends assigning textbooks to college class is academic malpractice. He questions how a Toronto author can make enough money from his calculus textbook to afford a $20 million house, despite the lack of any serious insight or value produced from writing a standard textbook.

Godin goes on to explain, "They (textbooks) don't take you from a place of ignorance to a place of insight. They're out of date and don't match the course. The 2009-2010 edition of the MKTG textbook, which is the hippest I could find, has no entries in the index for Google, Twitter, or even Permission Marketing. They don't sell the topic. No one puts down a textbook and says, "yes, this is what I want to do!"

They are incredibly impractical. In a world of Wikipedia, where every definition is a click away, it's foolish to give me definitions to memorize. Any professor of intro marketing who is assigning a basic old-school textbook is guilty of theft or laziness. This industry deserves to die. It has extracted too much time and too much money and wasted too much potential".

Our planet is hurtling its way to an even more unpredictable, yet exciting future. But, can you already foresee, with the speed at which the world is changing, the growing need for even more decentralized, nimble and "seamless" organizations? Your future course for success hinges on how you and your brand can harness both speed and passion to outflank your oppenents in the quest for top talent and profitable customers. For centuries, faster armies with more spirit, have always defeated slower moving, low morale troops. And that is not about to change - no matter how much technology changes.

How is this shift impacting your world and your brand? Are you relying too heavily on "textbook wisdom" to stem the tide of sweeping change rushing towards you?

Are you seeing crisis or opportunity ahead?

Now you know.

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn"

Originally posted October 29, 2008

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