Why we need creative ‘flexperts’

Following on from my last post I have just re-read the report published by The Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies titled Creative Man The Future Consumer, Employee and Citizen which supports many of the arguments I defend when I am with clients during the planning phases of the development of their learning policies.


Professor Feiwel Kupferberg from the Danish university of Education argues that creativity is more important than specialised competencies and knowledge. ‘Core competencies’ is a concept that belongs to a traditional industrial mindset about specialisation as the key to wealth. But in our future society the individual should be able to take independent initiatives and feel personally responsible for the job. This harmonises poorly with the idea of specialised competencies, Kupferberg thinks. The most important skill in our rapidly changing society isn’t to be able to add to the knowledge of a particular subject, but rather to be able to throw old knowledge aside and look at the world with fresh eyes.

The report also states:

The main qualification in the future is not to know things, but being able to do things. In order to do things well, you need to learn creative methods and processes far more than you need to know rote information. Educational institutions don’t educate creative people by creating more experts, but rather by training reflective practicians and ‘flexperts’ who continually exchange old knowledge for new. You need to know how to find, evaluate and process knowledge, but you don’t have to know the knowledge itself until you actually need it. The knowledge you will need to know beforehand is a broad, generalist knowledge, where you know enough about a broad range of subjects to be aware of what you don’t yet know about them, but can find out if necessary. This broad knowledge base will also allow you to communicate with people with knowledge that is peripheral to your own – something that is increasingly important in a world where more and more development projects are cross-disciplinary It may still be a good idea to have some specialist knowledge, but it should be possible to shift your speciality to another part of your broad knowledge base. This is best done if your speciality is weighted heavily towards method skills, like analysis, research, organisation, information seeking and processing, development, design and creative processes, empathy, and storytelling, rather than consisting mainly of specialist knowledge skills.

There is an inevitability about these changes to learning approaches that will, eventually, no matter how hard change is for an organisation, be a matter of an organisation’s survival in a post-industrial world.

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