How would we do that? Let’s try to learn from those innovators in places like Redmond and Palo Alto, shall we?
- Recognize that “stack ranking”-style review systems for teachers and professors, in which there must be a fixed percentage of high, average, and low achievers, lead only to counterproductive internal competition, not innovation or work of real value.
- Act like innovation matters by reserving time for all teachers and professors to develop creative projects on their own, because as a Google spokesperson says, “the company recognizes people are more productive when they are working on projects that excite them. Google engineers are given a lot of flexibility when choosing projects, and encouraged to pursue company-related interests.”
- Realize the value of human contact by prioritizing and adequately funding face-to-face teaching, because as Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer says, people are “more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” Or more than just two ideas? Imagine the possibilities that might emerge if we had a whole roomful of people who were discussing the same set of ideas!
If I didn’t know better, I’d almost be tempted to suggest that the culture of Silicon Valley was closely modeled on American academic culture. But everybody knows that one can hardly be seen as “innovative” or “forward-leaning” if one built a corporate culture around American college and university culture from, like, 1870! That would be total madness! No, we in academia must let the techhies think they thought it all up first, and hope that we’re allowed to “learn” from these innovative and forward-leaning corporate titans.
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