What does it take to be smart? Are you born smart? Are some people just brighter than others? How can a 10-year veteran corporate citizen today compete with a graduate from Stanford, CMU, or MIT?
Each year, approximately 200,000 high school students take the SAT and score a perfect 1600. These hyper-smart humanoids are quickly gobbled up by their reach schools, proceed into intellectual incubators, and begin churning out challenges to your cushy career.
Why, these cathedrals of higher learning have more eager young brainiacs than YouTube has kittens. Oh, and next year another 200,000 mega-minds will join them. Have you already lost the battle? Where might you find the resources to compete with this onslaught of awesomeness?
Well Dorothy, right in your own backyard.
There are two necessary ingredients to intellectual invincibility. One is raw horsepower, i.e. having a healthy brain that is used to thinking, and the other is knowledge. There is no evidence that today’s homosapients have any more innate brain power than did our ancestors. Better information, yes; horsepower, no. The kids are not smarter than their parents.
But! - your veteran corporate citizens have more, real, and better information. Consider this, studies show that as civilized nations enter the information era, the average age at which patents and prizes are awarded for novel and creative solutions increases. In other words, in a mature information society, it takes longer to acquire enough foundational data to invent new ideas.
Benjamin F. Jones of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University studied Nobel Prizes of sciences and economics over a 100 year period and found that the average age of a recipient increased eight years from an average of 23 years old in 1900, to 31 years old by 1999. As more information is discovered, it takes longer to assimilate it, and then leverage that knowledge to make more discoveries.
According to Geoff Colvin in his book, Talent is Overrated, the average age of a person’s first Patent has been increasing at the rate of six to seven years per century.
Digital Disruption Lesson #1: Unleash the IQ of your employees.
We need to build the confidence in our employees that their best creative days are ahead of them, and then give them the tools and environment where creativity is exposed, encouraged, and embraced.
I received my first Patent at the age of 54 because my company reached out and asked for ANY ideas that *might* possibly be considered innovative. They then provided attorneys and processes that made it (from my perspective) stupidly simply to apply, and eventually get a Patent.