Learning Agility

I stumbled into IdeaCast from HBR a couple of weeks ago. First of all I love the title “IdeaCast”. You can’t pass up a pod-cast series with such a title. Like Knowledge@Wharton podcasts, this is an invaluable source of information. One of the pod-casts I listened to recently is about the Changing Role of Leaders. In this podcast Marshall Goldsmith talks about five of the new traits of a Future Leaders. Then Marshall goes on to add another (saying that he got it from one of the readers who commented on his blog post). He calls it Learning Agility.

The term appealed to me and I immediately Googled it and found this link.

It describes the common traits of learning agile people.

  • They are critical thinkers who examine problems carefully and make fresh connections with relative ease.
  • They know themselves well, leverage their strengths effectively and know how to compensate for their weaknesses.
  • They like to experiment and are comfortable with the discomfort that comes from change.
  • They deliver results in first-time situations through team-building and personal drive.

The author identifies a set of related characteristics, agile people may have:

  • Mental Agility -Ability to separate action from strategy and vision
  • Results Agility – Personal drive and presence
  • People Agility – Ability to build teams which includes Conflict Agility

I think Learning Agility is an important trait, for companies – especially startups. Most of the founders have it. A bigger challenge is to make it an essential ingredient of the startup culture.

Study: Impact of Improving Cognitive Skills

A Study Finds Sharp Math, Science Skills Help Expand Economy.

Increased years of education boost economic growth — but only if students’ cognitive skills, as measured by math and science tests, are improved as a result, a new study says.

The study, released in this spring’s issue of Education Next, an education-policy journal, concluded that if the U.S. performed on par with the world’s leaders in science and math, it would add about two-thirds of a percentage point to the gross domestic product, or the total value of goods and services produced in a nation, every year.

People think of Math as a subject to learn. But we may be missing the point. To me it looks more like a basic skill for people to learn. Here is Jagjit Singh on Great Ideas of Modern Mathematics, a book first published in 1959.

It is true that physical sciences, such as physics and astronomy, did use a good deal of mathematics, but even in these sciences one could get along and often make useful contributions without it.

Nowadays, even descriptive sciences, e.g. biology, zoology, genetics, psychology, neurology, medicine, economics, philogy, etc., have begun to employ elaborate mathematical techniques.

Math can be made easy to learn by great teachers. On a more personal note,  I had wonderful teachers from elementary school till the end of my undergraduate (engineering) course. The early teachers were such an inspiration. They were mostly responsible for my interest in Math and later in Sciences and Engineering.

Musings: More News Than Comment

Every time I write a blog post, I think about this. Am I posting more news than comment?

The urge to share is a powerful one. I do it in different ways – del.icio.us, posting to Facebook and a bit of twittering. I still, have not figured out my urge to blog. Most of the time it is news with an occasional comment. Sometimes there is more comment than news.

I like the way Peter Suber says it.

This blog is more news than comment. For more comment than news, see my writings on OA.

LinkLog: Startups

This is a problem that faces everysuccesful startup – how do you go from small. Whether it is growing an organization or growing a product, how do you make sure that you do not become “soggy” as you grow?

The Elephant and the Ant: Why Companies Need Processes as they grow triggered by Seth Godin’s Soggy.A similar abstraction, on a very different subject-  software. How a beautiful software system becomes Frankenstein paints a vivid picture of what happens when you grow from small to big.

The success is in handling this change in size well.

Resources: Technology Podcasts and Videos

I am always on the lookout for good podcasts to listen to. Here is an opportunity to listen to thought leaders in the tech industry.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Interviews with Innovators by Jon Udel from ITConversations Network. ITConversations also hosts some interesting podcasts on Social Innovation and other interesting topics.

Talking with Talis is one of my more recent discoveries. In their own words, it is:

conversations with thought-leaders at the interface between Web 2.0, Libraries, and the Semantic Web…

Inside Silicon Valley from PodTech News is another one of my favorites. I became aware of PodTech when Robert Scoble moved there from Microsoft.

ScobleShow is another one of my favorite ones. Since Scoble is no longer at PodTech, I wonder whether this series will continue.

Channel 10 is a great source that covers products and innovations at Microsoft.  I have watched some really grate videos and podcasts there.

Google Engineering Edu and other Google tech talk videos is one of the best sources of technology information. Google often invites thought leaders, developers, language designers to their campus. They make these videos available free.

A talk a day is my motto. A technology or Science podcast or an audiobook is a great companion when I take my walks or sweat it out on my treadmill.