5 Minds and 8 Habits

IN THIS EVER CHANGING world of jobs, knowledge professionals are seemingly growing. They contribute to the large percentage of the working population both globally as well in India. Today we have many big organisations which exist only by dealing in knowledge and knowledge workers are the key which drive these organisation and their profit lines. This trend is not sacrosanct with profit generating companies but even with Government bodies and not for profit civil society organisations.

The world is changing; it is no longer issue of mass scale distribution, but the issue of finding practical solutions to problems which look simple but in societies and humans like us are in reality complex. It is about the right understanding of the problems, its various facets including local nuances, which vary and providing solutions which are implementable is the key. Governments are tending to recognise the problems, acknowledge them, and are willing to put in the needed investments but how, which can help attain the result is the bottom line.

But let's not believe that all has changed, majority of organisations still depend on traditional workforce and many lie in between. But one thing is obvious that there has been a manifold increase in investment on the information systems and management which many term as 'knowledge management investments'. Organisations are tilting towards new ways to improve their knowledge management. This is changing fast but this change needs to strike a right balance with human power it depends on. Today it may not be necessary that a worker works 9 am – 5 pm, Important is the employee delivers, and this statement has many implications. How does an individual or an employee survive the demands of this new world?

Howard Gardner in his book 'Five Minds for the Future', brings out a concept of new cognitive abilities or five minds.   He puts them as the disciplined mind, synthesizing mind, creating mind, respectful mind, and ethical mind. He in his book writes that "The world of the future with its ubiquitous search engines, robots and other computational devices — will demand capacities that until now have been mere options. To meet this new world on its own terms, we need to cultivate these capacities now."

Five minds as written by Gardener are: the disciplined mind which has mastered at least one way of thinking. The synthesizing mind understands and evaluates information taken from different sources and puts it together so that it makes sense. Its importance increases as information flow increases. The creating mind breaks new ground and raises new ideas. It poses unfamiliar questions and arrives at unexpected answers. It is one step ahead of the robots, and its ability to think beyond rules enables its owner to come up with fresh ideas and insights.


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The respectful mind welcomes differences between people, (very important in today's perspective) and tries to understand others. It seeks to work effectively with them - a necessity in the global village. The ethical mind ponders the nature and purpose of work and assesses the needs and desires of society. It thinks beyond self-interest and seeks to improve the lot of all. The ethical mind works in a more abstract way, pondering how it can contribute to improving society. The idea, he says, was to write "about things that were important and interesting and underemphasized."

In his perspective if we wish to prepare children for tomorrow, we need to move away from education system of today which is based on rote learning. He believes that we should move away from the educating and spending time on smaller things which machine can do and go beyond them, its about leaning how to effectively use the those machines, or digital products.

It is not that Gardener alone calls for change in way we work and think. Stephan Covey (writer of the book 'Seven habits for highly successful people') in his book '8th habit' says that this new world has turned from information and knowledge to wisdom. It is a vastly changed place. The challenges and complexity all of us face in our relationships, families, professional lives, and communities are of an entirely new order of magnitude. Being effective as individuals and organisations is no longer merely an option -- survival in today's new world requires it.   In this Knowledge Worker Age, in order to thrive, innovate, excel, and lead we must build on and move beyond effectiveness. Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today's new reality requires a sea change in thinking: a new mind-set, a new skill-set, a new tool-set -- in short, a whole new habit.

The crucial challenge of our world today is this: to find our voice and inspire others to find theirs. It is what Covey calls the 8th Habit. Two facts which emerge strongly are importance of human power and second is the need of mindsets, habits which can react to this changing world and are effective.

These theories are based on lot of research, and practical experience but problem is when they become jargon and managements use them liberally and many a times partially i.e. with only focusing on first three minds without really engaging and listening to people heart. Listening to hearts of its own people i.e. employee is important in today's management. It is about providing that enabling environment in jobs in which not only their minds are effective but people deliver from their hearts. Both these Gurus also point that out in their respective theories as respectful mind and as qualities and need to listen wisely to serve others.

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