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It was good to see a strong focus on education at Davos this year. One session at the Annual Meeting that I particularly enjoyed discussed the addition of creative and artistic education to the traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) agenda. John MaedaCarol BeckerJustine Cassell and Tomas Saraceno made a compelling case for the benefits of cross-fertilization between arts and sciences.

Artist Tomas Saraceno showed an inspiring example of how science can help art achieve its creative goals and, along the way, create new science. Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia University, talked about how the arts helps develop, what she calls, the “particularity” of the person. The idea of individuality and unique creative contribution would seem to have a role in both the arts and the sciences.

The overall conclusion from the session was that creativity has an essential role to play in education, whether for the purposes of enhancing technical innovation or for creating well-rounded graduates who can truly contribute to society.

For more thoughts on why design is a perfect lens through which to look at the tensions in education, read my World Economic Forum post here.

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Reflections on Davos 2013

February 5, 2013 — 1 Comment

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I recently returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The overall sentiment there was one of cautious optimism. While there is a long list of major problems to be tackled, the immediate prospects for the global economy seem reasonably good and there is a sense that most economies will grow this year.

The theme of the week was resilience—the question being, how do companies and countries weather the increasing volatility of markets, society, and climate? One obvious conclusion is that resilience requires the ability to rapidly react and innovate in changing circumstances. Creativity and design can help make organizations more resilient.

Another theme was the growing focus on tackling global problems that are associated with basic human needs. I couldn’t help but reflect upon the Designing for Life’s Necessities post in December. Access to healthy food and clean water, achieving active healthy lifestyles, redesigning broken healthcare and education systems, creating new jobs, supporting aging communities, and mitigating the effects of global warming—these were all topics of discussion in Davos. My sense is that in the next year more large corporations, governments, and NGOs will be looking for creative ways to address these issues.

Davos is a place to meet intellectual superstars and I was fortunate to spend time with both Daniel Kahneman (father of behavioral economics) and Clayton Christensen (of The Innovator’s Dilemma fame). They both offered wise words about purpose, success, and happiness—while commenting on the dangers of taking a conventional view of success and happiness. In particular, how companies measure success today in terms of return on capital.

How will you measure purpose, success, and happiness this year?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)