Monday, December 8, 2008

Daniel Pink Keynote at TIES 2008

Daniel Pink was the keynote speaker at this years TIES Technology Conference. Creative Minds Collaborating for a Web 3.0 World is the title of this year's conference. I had heard Pink speak at the University of Minnesota last spring in a conversational setting, and was interested to hear a more direct message and whether he had any new things to share.
He started by talking about "What makes a Good Speech?"

  • Brevity

  • Levity

  • Repetition!

He said the repitition comes from a teacher he had 30 years ago, Mrs. Path, who said, "Repetition is an effective form of emphasis!" She told him over, and over and over!

His focus today was on education and the economy. While not an educational expert, he said that his ability to focus on systems gives him .
The purpose of education in America is not to deliver employees to buisiness, it's about helping kids reach their potential, civic responsibility, and well informed citizens.
We must win that argument if we want to do well by our kids.
We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.-Similar to John Dewey in the 1930's and 1940's.
He then discussed some of the concepts from his book, "A Whole New Mind."
He talked about growing up in the late part of the 20th century in the middle class, where if you were good at math, you went into medicine or engineering, if you were good at language arts, you became a lawyer.
This does not define our kids future.
This is not wishful thinking, it's actually that the scales are tilting toward the following:

  • Asia-Outsourcing of jobs that used to be done in the United States. Pink says that the number of white collar jobs outsourced, is actually much less than people think, but it is understated in the long run. India has a BILLION people! Even if only 15% of the population reaches a economic level similar to ours, that's 150 million people, greater than the population of Japan and the number of workers in our economy. In 14 months, India will be the largest English speaking country. The cost of communication is effectively 0, given things like Skype. ROUTINE is the fault line between our past and our kids future. Any job that is routine, will be leaving our economy very quickly. If you can write down the steps and get a right answer, those jobs will be gone! Accounting, financial analysis, computer programming, certain types of law, are all professions that are routine and will be quickly outsourced.

  • Automation-Automation is replacing our logical, sequential rule placed side. You can now easily look at all the steps of what a lawyer in Minnesota needs to do to help someone get an uncontested divorce. So you can spend $2,000 to see a lawyer, or go to and have it done for you for $249! He showed some other sites, like and and Turbotax as examples of how certain tasks are automated.

  • Abundance-The standard of living among middle class Americans is at an all time high. The broad trend is toward greater abundance, despite our current downturn. He showed a chart that demonstrates the spread of consumption. The self service storage industry is now bigger than the movie industry. The iPod is a great example of how even in a downturn, companies can introduce things that everyone will need! (Introduced 6 weeks after 9/11) Companies will retrench and move forward

The big questions that need to be answered today are:

Can someone oversees do it cheaper, can computers do it faster, is what you're delivering in demand in an age of abundance.
What about STEM? This is not a brief against STEM, just a critical analysis of how STEM has been done in the past by having kids spit back results.
Google is trying to hire "Non-Routine Savants". Medical Schools are now using art to teach decision making. Extrordinary observation skills are required to become a good painter, and a good doctor! Yet the first thing to go in elementary and secondary schools is art education!

Here's the problem:
Economy Current Focus

  • Novelty

  • Nuance

  • Customization

Education Current Focus

  • Routines

  • Right Answers

  • Standardization

The 6 Abilities that Matter Most Right Now-They are hard to outsource and hard to automate, and they make us human!

  • Design-Not just Function

  • Story-Not just Argument

  • Empathy-Not just Logic

  • Play-Not just Seriousness

  • Meaning-not just Accumulation

  • Symphony-Not just Focus

He is making his presentation available, and suggested that people to Tweet him!

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