How to Grab a Lion’​ – Future-Proofing Education for the New Era of Co-operation Mayank Dhingra

Mayank Dhingra is the senior Education Business Leaders at HP Middle East. His thoughs on Education are very interesting.

For the technologically attuned, the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (a moniker coined by Klaus Schwab in 2016) is a familiar term. 4IR is described as an increasingly interconnected era where the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres are blurred.

Similarly, those familiar with the occult sciences, know that we have recently (circa 2012) entered the ‘Age of Aquarius’ which is defined as an era distinguished by quick technological advancements and movement toward collective consciousness and community.

Irrespective of which of these outlooks resonates more with you, it’s clear by a cursory glance around that we are in a time of rapid change and increased inter-dependencies. The physical and the meta-physical worlds seem to be aligning together to make us a more cohesive species.

This is good news since anthropologists and social scientists have long known that as humans we are hardwired for connection. In his book ‘Social’, neuro-scientist Mathew Lieberman explored ground-breaking research in social neuroscience revealing that our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic, than our need for food or shelter.

The business world has responded swiftly to the new era of empathy and connection by moving away from last century’s siloed work style and intense internal competition to more collaborative frameworks which can be broadly classified under two distinct categories – Inter-Organisation and Intra-Organisation.

Let’s examine some of these new approaches:

Inter-Organisation

1.     Integrated Enterprise

In an Integrated Enterprise, two or more businesses intertwine their efforts in a certain area, such as marketing, supply chain, integration, technology, finance, or a combination of these. The premise being that each company brings their expertise and unique strengths to curate joint products or experiences.

2.     Public Private Partnerships

PPP or 3P is a cooperative arrangement between two or more public and private sectors, typically of a long-term nature. PPPs are formed to finance, build, and operate projects, usually in the infrastructure or public services segments. Of late, public–private partnerships with non-profits and private partners have seen an increase which has helped reach public services to remote regions and establish sustainable models.

3.     Partner Ecosystems

In a partner ecosystem, a lead organisation aligns a multitude of suppliers or alliances towards a common objective and orchestrates the project while providing necessary governance. Co-creation is at the heart of an ecosystem. According to a study by Accenture, “Ecosystems could unlock $100 trillion of value for businesses and wider society over the next 10 years.”

Intra-Organisation

1.     Holacracy

Holacracy is a method of decentralized management that binds individuals together around a common theme or project. Individuals can hold more than one role and each sub-team or circle is self-governing. Teams disband after the project and move onto the next task / role. Collaboration is key to success in Holacracy.

2.     Scrum

Scrum is a matrix for project management that emphasizes teamwork, accountability and iterative progress toward a well-defined goal. Its part of the agile framework and it’s distinguishing feature is product and development teams working in close tandem with full transparency and constant adaptability.

3.     Crystal

Crystal is also an agile framework. It’s differentiating aspect is that it is super-focused on individuals and their interactions, as opposed to processes and tools. It allows for tailored set of policies and practices with key tenets being teamwork, communication, and simplicity.

There are other more nuanced variants of both inter-organisation and intra-organisation collaboration frameworks – but they all have the same doctrine of inter-dependence, communication and shared destiny in common.

Leonardo da Vinci famously said “Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else”.

Collaboration frameworks, operationalised under a defined taxonomic structure or implemented more informally as part of a company culture are going to be the norm going forward. If our future is going to be more interconnected both at the human and digital level, then we need to ensure early on that students are being provided the necessary tools to uncover and master these innate life-skills.

Let’s explore some ways in which schools can deliver on this objective –

Pedagogical approaches

1.     Project Based Learning

PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Collaboration, creativity, and communication skills are unleashed in the process. It is a style of inquiry-based learning and blends best with IB curriculum though other curriculums have also started adopting the approach in recent years.

2.     Peer Learning

Peer learning can take various forms – peer to peer instructions, peer to peer assessments or peer collaborative learning. The social context of learning from a peer makes the process engaging, fun and collaborative. The beauty of a peer learning approach is that it offers a lot of flexibility, students can be grouped together in the optimum way and the process refined along the journey. 

Digital Support

1.     Learning Management Systems

Learning Management Systems not only digitize lesson plans and curriculum content but also offer collaborative pathways for students to exchange information, work together on tasks and gamify assessments and projects. For today’s digital native students, they offer the ideal platform for teamwork and cooperation.

2.     TED-ED

Ted-Ed offers a unique co-creation platform for students to digitize peer learning opportunities. The curation aspect of Ted-Ed is fertile ground for collaboration to take place as various roles from editing, storytelling, content development etc get divided between team members.

3.     Hackathons

Hackathons are great at simulating work environment pressure and bringing diverse sets of students to work towards a common objective in a very limited time frame. The importance of teamwork in a hackathon cannot be overstated and is one of the quickest ways to attune students to the criticality of cohesiveness.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Certain activities such as participating in a Model United Nations conference or directing a theatrical performance offer incomparable opportunities for students to develop and hone their collaboration skills. Diplomacy, pressure, conflict, ambiguity, are some of the volatile ingredients in the mix during such events and being part of the proceedings can be a life changing experience for many students.

These are just a few examples of approaches schools can adopt. However, there are many more avenues and resources available to school leaders once intent is set.

There is an old Ethiopian saying, ‘When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion’. There are probably no better words than this adage to exemplify the power of collaboration.

And as stated earlier, organisations have already glimpsed this truth. It’s now time for education to don the mantle and ready youngsters to be torchbearers to the glowing promise of an ultra-interconnected world.

Mayank Dhingra

About the Author

Mayank Dhingra is the Education Lead for HP Inc in the MENAT region. He is also the Founder of Yogasmriti, a not-for-profit initiative, that has been supporting children in need across the globe for over a decade.

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