Strongest? Smartest? Most Adaptable?

 Photo by  Rosie Kerr  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash


In the Pre-Industrial era, only the ultra-privileged received formal educations. For a lucky few common folk, learning meant apprenticeships to manual tasks. The rest labored in the proverbial fields. Strength provided a competitive advantage.

In the Industrial era, more and more people accessed “school,” where they learned to comply and cooperate with “managers.” For the most successful students, knowing more stuff than others gave you a chance at becoming one of those managers. Smarts were a competitive advantage.

And now? In this Fourth Industrial Revolution (sometimes called the Innovation Economy), “knowing stuff” counts for less and less. Most people in the developed world can access the same information and knowledge that you can access. Meanwhile, information and knowledge have shorter and shorter half-lives as we discover and invent faster and faster. Now more than ever, competitive advantage comes from acting on three learning imperatives:

  • Know yourself: What are your natural strengths? What are your core values? Where do you find purpose?

  • Know your team: How might you harmonize your strengths, values, and purpose with the many different teams you will need to work on?

  • Know your world: Given the accelerating rate of change, how might you learn how to learn? And how might you distinguish evolving knowledge from universal, constant principles?

In this context, adaptability provides your competitive advantage.

Over the next few months I’ll be addressing these questions at various gatherings:

October 16-17, 2018: Signals x Richmond, hosted by The Steward School [note: by invitation only]

November 9, 2018: Global Gathering NYC, hosted by The Hewitt School

November 12, 2018: Strategic Marketing & Advancement Institute, Annapolis, MD

November 14, 2018: The Jesuit Schools Network Principals Cohort Gathering, Phoenix, AZ

December 3-4, 2018: AIMS Technology & Innovation Conference, hosted at Johns Hopkins University

February 27, 2019: NAIS Annual Conference, Long Beach, CA

I hope to see you in person so that we can collaborate on a vision for an optimistic future.

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Christian Talbot