I have claimed that all the hype about how the information technology revolution, culminating with Apple and Facebook, has changed the quality of our civilization may be over-rated.
A lot of the benefits hype associated with social networks and other interconnected means of communication facilitated by information technology may be just that: hype. Networks come with volume (people, information, “likes” and so on) and they do have their benefits: speed with which the information propagates for one and the beginnings of the creation of a global village. But we should not confuse information with wisdom, intelligence and creativity; more quantity of information delivered ever faster does not necessarily mean an increase in the quality of our understanding or wisdom. I’ve used the following example to make my point to several audiences lately: “Einstein’s Theory of Relativity could not have been a crowd-sourced innovation”. And I honestly believe that is true, having provided at least one supporting argument from the management consulting industry (see my blog entry “Russell Ackoff, the Albert Einstein of Management“).
And so I have claimed, supplied limited examples, and will continue to argue over the course of coming posts that some of the world’s top thinkers are in fact aligned with a view that argues for qualitative, holistic path to the world’s progress that can be traced all the way back to roots of Western civilization in ancient Greece.
Below are three examples of insights that go against commonly accepted wisdom. These insights share a common denominator and namely that quality is more important than quantity which is equivalent to effectiveness being more important than efficiency. See also my post on this blog of the fallacy of the business performance consulting model.
In his Harvard Business Review Blog, Jeff Stibel makes the case for intelligence and creativity being a qualitative rather than quantitative, a primarily individualistic rather than group phenomenon:
In a Q&A with Alan Hall at Forbes, Clayton Christiansen, the innovation guru, argues that our obsession with efficiency, based largely in quantitative methods and thinking, is killing innovation:
The same finger prints of holistic, qualitative thinking can be noticed in Roger Martin’s and Jack Welch’s motivations when arguing against the “shareholder value” concept in economics and business: