Knowing When to Say Goodbye
Telling the difference between fundamental and obsolete.
“21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020,” a post by Tina Barseghian for KQED.org, describes predictions for the state of the modern classroom. Not surprisingly, the list includes the decreasing use of paper and books and the increasing adoption of the internet as a source of research and learning, all nicely following society’s increasing availability and use of technology. The traditional computer will be replaced by individual, handheld devices. No more computer labs filled with Commodore 64s, just students and their iPads and iPhones, or whatever will take shape in 2020.
Perhaps a little more surprising is the predicted falling away of some of the mainstays of measuring performance and potential in our educational system. For instance, standardized tests for college admissions. As the post predicts, “Over the next ten years, we will see digital portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.”
Many of these same observations flow from the classroom to the boardroom, or breakroom.
Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, in an article titled “7 Office Culture Fundamentals That Are Becoming Obsolete” for Inc. writes, “Office culture has changed considerably over the last few years, and it only appears to be speeding up.”
According to DeMers, seven mainstays of office and corporate culture such as 9-to-5 workdays, cubicles, suits and ties, and even the hierarchy of management are and will become things of the past. “In what many would argue is a fortunate turn of events, many of these long-held office fundamentals are starting to become obsolete,” he writes. “Thanks in part to the rising capabilities of new technologies and in part due to paradigm shifts from Silicon Valley and ‘startup culture,’ the basic idea of an ‘office’ is starting to morph, and these seven familiar tenets are beginning to disappear entirely.”
Which begs the question, what will happen to cubicle manufacturers? Will business schools stop teaching and analyzing businesses with a traditional hierarchy? What happens to an entire industry of SAT prep when students stop preparing themselves for tests that will no longer be in use?
The list of examples could potentially go on and on. But there are examples of the obsolete that still hold value as a fundamental, something teachable. You cannot sit down and watch an NBA basketball game and see a team run the picket-fence play. However, the smart youth basketball coach will teach it to his players as it is a great conveyor of the concept of teamwork. Although no longer in use, a young engineer might just glean something from taking apart an old Commodore 64.
Like taking apart that Commodore 64, the fundamentals are understanding what came before, the core, and how it all relates to what’s available to us now. Along those lines, this month’s appliance DESIGN offers “Back to Basics: HMI Returns to Its Touchy/Feely Roots.” As author Tim Sweet writes, “Do you ever wish for the good old days when a switch acted in only one way, had a nice big ‘click’ and it was pretty obvious what was going to happen when you flipped it? Too bad—that’s never going to happen. Just kidding! In fact, the switch comeback has been quietly going on right in front of our eyes, and fingers.”
Enjoy and thanks for reading!