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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

In Praise of Square Pegs

Oscar Foulkes February 15, 2012 Uncategorized No comments

I happened to be looking yesterday at the staff complement of a hugely successful investment banking business. Well, my visit to their website wasn’t entirely coincidental, because I wanted to pitch an idea to one of their team.

What struck me was the number of them with Accountancy or Law degrees, and how many had done time at PWC. My immediate response was that this was the perfect team for management by Excel. You know, where the entire venture is modelled on spreadsheets, which is all good and well.

The problem is this, no matter how complex the financial modelling, somewhere in the continuum from raw material to consumer someone needs to be creative. Quite a few people, actually.

I had a little moment in which I could see the lopsidedness of their skills base, and how they desperately need to have crazies like myself floating around from time to time (to keep their business plans sane).

Then, this morning I tuned into Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about the way in which education is killing creativity (yes, that’s the video above). I loved the way he describes us as first being educated from the waist up, and then, once the education starts to focus on the brain, all the attention is skewed to the logical, analytical side.

I can be as analytical as any one of the smart-degree types on the aforementioned investment banker’s payroll. The difference is that I am also completely at home operating on the intuitive, or creative side.

The kind of training that gets someone to the point of wearing a dark suit at an investment bank is designed to eradicate any tolerance for ambiguity or grey areas. I know it’s a gross generalisation to suggest that everyone with that kind of training is going to believe only the tangible output of a spreadsheet. To those who have seen the light (or should I say, the grey), I apologise unreservedly.

Professionally, I often feel a bit ‘square-peggish’. The views of Sir Ken would suggest that perhaps it’s the round hole that needs to have a turn at feeling frustrated.

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