Turbo-charging Leadership – the ‘Google’ Project

By December 19, 2008Business

I love google. All that data out there. One click and the google elves trot about the web fetching it for you. Wheelbarrows of the stuff. At Ashridge I have decided our next generation 3Rs for learning are Receptiveness, Retention and Retrieval: how can we optimise a leader’s receptiveness to learning, to what extent can we help them retain in their memory what they have learned, and how effectively will they be able to retrieve this knowledge when they need to use it. These 3Rs are now defining our agenda for the Centre for Research in Executive Development (CRED).

What I know from our work with leaders is that they need to develop their self-googling skills such that they can summon up on demand from an increasingly ambiguous and diffuse realm of information the very answers they need. Ideally we want to bottle intuition and sell it, to optimise the Retrieval variable. I think it was Cattell who distinguished between two types of human intelligence. Crystallized intelligence is the lattice of learned information, your hard-drive of knowledge. Fluid intelligence is your capacity to mine this data and abstract from it data for new situations, like googling. Teaching leaders ever more facts to add to their existing data set is not smart nor efficient, but teaching leaders how to improve their fluid intelligence future-proofs them. Hence our google project. We want to find out everything there is to know about learning and memory, and how these vary from person to person, such that we can prime all our leaders to maximise their receptiveness, retention and retrieval capacity. How cool is this project! Almost as cool as the RSA’s work on changing minds and the social brain, with which we’re hoping to link. And with all you neuroscience boffins out there, and the AI community, and the techies, and the psychologists, mathematicians and philosophers – let’s get cracking. If you’re interested, contact our fab researcher, ellen.pruyne@ashridge.org.uk.

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