Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20, 2011

“Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction”
Such is the tagline from Rebecca Costa’s new book, The Watchman’s Rattle. While Einstein taught us that we can’t solve problems at the level of thinking that created them, he didn’t spell out how to change the level.

Past civilizations (Mayan, Khmer, Roman) came to a point where complexity exceeded their cognitive capacity. Rather than drill deep, they looked for quick fixes and reacted to symptoms. This allowed underlying conditions to worsen. Gridlock and ultimately collapse occurred. The good news—Costa offers a path up and out.

The Brain
Discoveries in neuroscience are as dramatic as learning the world is not flat. People think in linear, holistic and insightful ways. When insightful breakthroughs reach critical mass, systems and economies can be completely disrupted and cultural norms reset. Given the dire circumstances we face, our choice is to cheer the insightful on or continue to watch linear vested interests battle.

Dean Kamen—Inventor Extraordinaire
When Dean Kamen spoke in Fresno, he changed attitudes. He put wind into the sails of innovators and entrepreneurs. In Costa’s book Kamen explains we know the problems and the answers. We are stuck because the culture is mired in old thinking—widely accepted beliefs that simply are not true. These are called memes. Family memes help us feel connected. Supermemes--beliefs that go viral--can contaminate a culture. While “knowing” can relieve anxiety in the moment, worsening conditions kick up stress notch after notch until a breakdown occurs.

Five Supermemes Holding Us Hostage
1.Irrational Opposition—Being against everything and for nothing.
2.The Personalization of Blame—Father should have known best & controlled all the variables. Holding individuals accountable for systemic and cultural problems.
3.Counterfeit Correlation—accepting correlation as a substitute for causation; spinning to manipulate evidence and relying on consensus to determine basic facts.
4.Silo Thinking—compartmentalized thinking and behaviors that prohibit the collaboration needed to address highly complex problems.
5.Extreme Economics—using simple business principles (profit/loss; risk/reward) as the litmus test for determining the value of people and priorities, initiatives and institutions—the legacy of the industrial revolution.

Our community discovered an antidote like Costa details in her book—a Four Spheres Framework, Community Values, Focused Blitzkrieg (do many things simultaneously) foster innovation and entrepreneurship, listen to the quantum level thinkers, and persevere until what once sounded foreign becomes normal.

The Book

The book is riveting and instructive. The snippets above are just a taste of her thinking. I encourage you read it. Another option, check out her website at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011

Economic Development Meets Human Development—Website for Internships
Through partnerships across our educational institutions, there is already a database to connect internship coordinators across the entire system. However:

The Problem

• San Joaquin Valley has a low-skilled worker population.
• Lack of professional development opportunities for young professionals.
The Cause
• Businesses are reluctant to develop internship programs.
• No single resource for businesses to connect with Valley colleges/universities and students for internships, career fairs, facility tours, service learning projects, etc.
The Solution
Develop a self-sustaining, integrated website with the following utility:
o Post internship positions at one location. Students may search and apply directly online.
o Connect businesses to the “right” person at education entities, specifically aligning to their internship needs.
o Internship toolkit--develop an effective internship program; paid v. unpaid internships; resume evaluation; interview questions.
o Promote career fairs.
o Wish list- students may submit what they are looking for and we can help them get connected.
The Benefits for Businesses
• Access to the up and coming “crème of the crop.”
• One source to post internship positions, connect with internship coordinators at colleges/universities.
• Understand the skills of the next generation of workers.
• Provide feedback to the colleges/universities regarding gaps in skills/training, work ethic, and other curriculum suggestions.
• Actively participate in increasing our higher education system and grow our skilled workforce.
The Request—Community Support
To launch, the project needs 10 sponsorships at $500. They are tax deductible. For more information contact Jen Paul at 559.347.3908 or Thank you to the FBC board members that wrote at check at this morning’s board meeting! This is a highly leveraged, highly impactful strategy to connect two groups that want to meet—they just need onramps and a platform.