Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Zig Zag Theory of Organization

I have mentioned on any number of occasions Kent Blumberg's blog on Leadership. In a recent post, however, Kent wrote about his reaction to a U.S. News & World Report article on education in this country as well as a CNN piece on illiteracy along with some conclusions reached by the Education Testing Service in a paper they published entitled: "America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future"

I too share Kent's concern, and I am sure the concern of millions of other Americans. I have written about this on my own blog on a number of occasions, but as Steve Levy, 50% of the voice behind The Edge noted in a comment here a few days ago, since there are only 13 others beside myself who read this blog, clearly we have a ways to go in order to get to anything close to a tipping point.

I am all too painfully aware that of the issues facing our country there are many that could easily contend for the top spot on our "we just have to fix this" hit parade. I also have been running around life and the business world long enough to know that nothing really gets fixed unless the "pain" gets to the point where "leadership" acts.

For those who may not be familiar with it, here's what is meant by what has been called the Zig Zag Theory of Organizations: The pressure from the organization below the "head" becomes so great in its momentum in a given direction that the "head" has no choice but to follow.

That is what I think faces us in terms of the education gap in our country. Tom Friedman has talked about it at length on many occasions as have many, many others. Indeed, Kent could easily have filled up his entire post with links to blogs, articles, etc. on the subject.

Kent also asks in his post what is to be done. Don't I wish I had the answer! At this point I guess my suggestion is that we have to do all we can to make more and more of us aware of just how important this gap is and the consequences of what many think will occur it we don't fix it. Don't believe me? Ask any hiring manager and/or recruiter (inside or 3rd party) if it isn't getting tougher and tougher to find candidates who can read and write.

If awareness can be raised, then "leadership" no matter what party, will have no choice but to "follow."

1 comment:

Kent Blumberg said...

Thanks for the link!

I'm planning a follow-up post soon. A few of my readers gave me ideas for local action, which will probably be a good place for me (or anybody) to start. I'm going to start with three things:

1. Pick one of the national literacy websites and see if I can get them interested in adding an easy-to-find "what you can do" page.

2. Go to my local library and volunteer.

3. Explore the homeschooling community in my town and see what I can do to help teach business and science to that audience.