Davos Day Two--It's All About Seeing Around The Corner.

Bruce Nussbaum

I shuffled through the snow (yep we got some and the Davosians are happy) to attend a workshop in the Future Series called Building The Skills of Tomorrow. Azim Premji, the head of Wipro, was in my group and he was brilliant. After lots of blah blah about government policy and education and business, he said it was all about finding people who could "see around corners."

Wow, talk about a phrase that captures design thinking and innovation--teaching people the skills of developing options and scenarios of the future, prototyping and testing them, listening to customers and clients, the whole package of methodologies that go with innovation. Seeing around the corner. Thank you Azim (it's Davos, you first-name everyone).

We talked mainly about B-school education. Here's why B-schools are not educating people to be creative. B-school's teach students to deconstruct, to break down existing problems and solve them. They do not teach people to construct, to integrate information to suggest options for the future. Roger Martin calls this integrative thinking. Tim Brown of IDEO calls it design thinking. Call it a banana but understand that we now have an alternative way of thinking about the world that promotes innovation and bottom line growth.

What should people take away from their graduate education? Here are the traits, according to a roomful of B-school deans from Wharton, Insead, British Columbia plus business people and government education policy makers:

1) A global mindset
2) Collaborative skills
3) Creativity
4) Innovation skills/Entrepreneurship
5) Deep Verticles in at least one functional area.

That's a little different from the financial engineering, Six Sigma, deconstructionist education people are now getting.

The always brilliant Laura Tyson, now back at the Berkeley B-school after heading the London Business School, suggested that schools look to the gaming culture and gaming technology to teach business skills.