“Cultural Issues are becoming Paramount”

Gruppo International exposition

IBM Vice president of Technical Strategy and Innovation, Irving Wladawsky-Berger is retiring in June, after 37 years of service to one company, a rather unusual distinction that he admits to in the blogged announcement he posted yesterday.  It’s a good read, but I was especially taken by the following paragraph.

…prodded by our innovation initiatives at IBM, I have been asking myself seemingly “soft” questions about the intrinsic nature of business, especially what it means to be a globally integrated business in the 21st century. Revenue, profits and cash are clearly important. But at heart a business is a community of people organized to pursue common objectives. And increasingly, as people and communities interact with each other around the world, the cultural issues are becoming paramount. I am convinced that these are the life and death issues for companies, the keys to their ability to innovate and survive.

I know that this is a horse I’ve beaten before, and that I certainly have some bias, having been a social studies teacher and that my daughter is studying to be a social studies teacher.  But I sincerely hope that we are coming to understand the critical need for a citizenry that knows not only the scientific aspects of our environment but is equally at home with the social elements of where and how and when we live.  In my last years as a middle school social studies teacher, we knew that our jobs were in jeopardy.  In fact, for my last year teaching, I was shifted, with no small amount of resistance on my part, to the math department.

When you think about it, the problems that face this world do not have nearly as much to do with what we know or don’t know about math and science, as they do with what we don’t know about each other and about working and living together.  We keep wanting to use history to fuel hatred, rather than as lessons for the future.

Image Citation:
Cassè, Marco. “International Exposition.” Kazze’s Photostream. 28 Mar 2006. 24 Jan 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/kazze/119305806/>.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.