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  • Bettina von Stamm

“All you need, whether in life or innovation, is an open heart and an open mind.”

Our blog this week comes from Bettina von Stamm, Director of the Innovation Leadership Forum. She explores: What might some key aspects of educating for a 21st century mind and skillset look like?

Mindset for the 21st century

Openness & flexibility - as publisher Malcolm Forbes said, “Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”.

Resilience - which does not mean that one is not affected by change, it means to have the ability to recover quickly. or, as Andrew Zolli, former Fellow of the National Geographic Society put it, “Resilience is the capacity of a system, enterprise, or person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances”.

Acceptance of connectedness - as Albert Einstein said, “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Compassion - for self and other. As the Dalai Lama said, “When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts”.

Skillset for the 21st century

Interpersonal & collaboration skills - this includes an appreciation of, and ability to collaborate across, diversity. While most of us have a preference for surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, real value, in the context of innovation and beyond, comes from engaging with those who are different from us.

Critical thinking & questioning skills - this includes an ability and willingness to challenge the status quo as well as be challenged. Once we let go of the belief that there is one right answer we will feel much less threatened by the proposal of something new…

Synthesising & sense making skills - this includes an ability to assess information sources on and offline. While it takes us seconds to gather pages and pages of information on any topic, how to figure out which ones credible and trustworthy?

Systems & integrative thinking skill - which includes an ability to identify key aspects of systems. Too often we are playing games of whack‑a‑mole, fixing the symptoms without ever identifying the underlying causes, hence never reaching a sustainable and lasting solution.

Self-management skills - this involves an ability and willingness to take responsibility for one’s own actions, and beyond. After all, the only thing that we can control are our own actions and reactions.

Perhaps all of the above can also be summarised as follows: “All you need, whether in life or innovation, is an open heart and an open mind.”

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