Thomas Friedman, It’s TQ + CQ… Not PQ!

Our economic landscape  is really a CHANGEscape”. Survival and success are determined by one’s ability to adapt to change and navigate change… which necessitates problem solving… and innovating… both of which stem from “curiosity”.

Picture 25My master’s degree thesis was focused on the topic of “curiosity” and specifically developing education techniques to increase students’ CQ (Curiosity Quotient). I believe that the antidote to a broken education system is to empower students to self-learn and be life-long learners, which require building their CQ.  I found that CQ can be nurtured irrespective of  a student’s nature (i.e., IQ). And, specifically, there are (6) six teaching techniques (which can also be used in marketing) to pique curiosity and engagement.

Therefore, I read with zeal Tomas Friedman’s January 29, 2013 Op Ed piece in the New York Times, It’s P.Q and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.  He posits that PASSION + CURIOSITY are more powerful than INTELLIGENCE (PQ + CQ > IQ).

While I agree with Friedman’s belief that  “curiosity” is a critical survival trait in the new economy, I respectfully disagree with “passion” as the other critical quality. Instead, PQ ought to be replaced by TQ (Technology Quotient)… CQ + TQ is the killer combo.

what’s your TQ?

Technology enables “doing” and “making”.  Technology is a tool, just like a Neanderthal flint knife, that helps humans do things.  Technology is a tool to transfer knowledge and capability from one person to another. Specifically, it helps humans execute, build, make and “do”. Today, being able to produce – execute – is a rare and prized skill.  In another New York Times’ article, A Nation Losing Its Toolbox,  the nation’s shrinking manufacturing (making) presence was highlighted and the latest trend in DIY: partial-made, par-cooked, semi-homemade. (Think: Pillsbury cookie dough.) The article laments a trend in craftsmanship where it’s being over-simplified and dumbed-down to cater to “amateur masters” (e.g., vinyl flooring comes with the glue already on it), and our executional skills are actually suffering as a result.

Americans have historically and culturally defined themselves with “making”, “building” and “doing” so we’re hard-wired to try something new.  Technology, Pop Culture and the media give everyday people access to experts, and their tricks, tips and tools so they feel empowered to take on projects out of their depth. We can easily learn “how it’s made” and peek behind the curtain to see “how it’s done” online or on shows like Extreme Home Makeover, Project Runway and Iron Chef. Step-by-step instructions can be found on YouTube channels, websites, in countless magazines, infographics and even phone Apps. Accessing this “how” info gives us confidence “do” and “innovate”.

I am reminded of the PBS America Revealed episode focused on “Efficiency“, which showcases how Volkswagen’s highly automated factory is a model of efficiency-excellence, not because of the machines, but as a result of the humans. The PEOPLE who work at the factory are trained and motivated with games that push them to problem-solve and ask questions (i.e., to be curious) and improve the manufacturing process because “robots can’t think for themselves.”

give me a kid with CQ and TQ…

Thomas Friedman believes “it is more important to be passionate and curious than to be merely smart.” I fully agree, but I have found that passion tends to accompany curiosity. If one is curious, one is also engaged and motivated (i.e., energized and passionate). “Passion” is both an output of “curiosity” AND input. Friedman states, “Give me the kid with a passion to learn and a curiosity to discover and I will take him or her over the less passionate kid with a huge IQ every day of the week.”  Rather:  “give me a kid with curiosity AND technological literacy, and that kid will have the skills to succeed in the CHANGEscape.”

Many (most) of the changes taking place in the CHANGEscape are technologically driven (think: Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s Law).  Being able to adapt to change, and changing technologies, requires technological literacy… and technological aptitude… in other words, “TQ”.  Sure, “passion” is great, but what good is passion without  technology skills?   What use is passion without the skills to bring things to fruition.  As the saying goes, “Ideas are like fingers, everybody’s got some.” I think we have too many “ideas people” and not enough “doers”, and this is especially true amongst the Millennial Generation. Thus, education (and business) must focus on improving the CQ and TQ of students, teachers, (managers and workers).  The “passion” will percolate up from this.

Mr. Friedman underscored the need for ubiquitous broadband (Internet access) in his article, Obama’s 1-2 Punch.  He wrote, “As for investment, I’d love to see the president launch us on an aspirational journey. My choice would be to connect every home and business in America to the Internet at one gigabit per second, or about 200 times faster than our current national household average, in five years. In an age when mining big data will be a huge industry, when online lifelong learning will be a vital necessity, and when we can’t stimulate our way to prosperity but have to invent our way there, no project would be more relevant.”  I couldn’t agree more, but Internet access is useless unless Americans know how to use it.  Improving the TQ of our citizens has to happen in tandem to establishing the technology infrastructure.

CQ + TQ  >  CQ + PQ

So, combining “curiosity” with “technology” actually seems to be the key qualities needed to cope in the CHANGEscape, not passion.  As a manager of people and educator I look for CQ and TQ, and focus my energies on strengthening these skill sets both in myself and the people around me. Of course IQ still matters, but CQ and TQ matter more.

Picture 18Click here to read how “E-Shaped” people are replacing “T-Shaped” people, and how CQ + TQ directly play into this.

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