Tag Archives: History

Specialization Fails Business Leaders

Buffet and Munger

The division of labor leads to specialization leads to great efficiency, but probably not in the case of business leadership.

Charlie Munger has a fascinating perspective on educating business leaders that were excerpted on Farnam Street.

In my experience, history was the ideal course of study in preparing for business leadership.  It is, essentially, the study of causation, including analysis of all possible contributing factors, not just the engineering, psychological, technical, or cultural variable sets.

Of course, in business, studying history often takes the form of case studies.

Has over specialization and turf protection blinded business leaders to larger issues and insights that case studies of business success and failure might reveal?

How could analysts pushing collateralized debt obligations not see the house of cards they were building?  Were they missing the forest for the trees because their education and the culture they worked in were overly specialized?

Munger’s wisdom not only makes sense, it has earned him (and Buffet) some real dollars.

 

Newton’s Experiments with Light and Color

The big questions: IsaacNewton

  • How do scientists turn their curiosity into scientific discoveries?
  • How do scientists learn from each other to move our understanding forward?
  • What is the scientific method and how might we use it in our own lives?
  • Where does color come from and how do things “have” a color?

The content:

We will read Newton’s letter to the Royal Society on his experiments with light and prisms.

We will follow in his footsteps as we recreate his experiments with prisms and sunlight.

Readings on Ptolemy, Thomas Young and their theories of light and color.

The skills and activities:

Deep reading, journaling, drawing, experimental setup skills.

Emerson and Thoreau – How Shall We Live?

The big questions:Emerson

How shall we live?

What can a couple of Transcendentalists from the early 1800’s tell us about our lives today?

What are Transcendentalists and what are they transcending?

How should we relate to our own inspirations?

How might we relate to people in the past?

How should we balance our relationships with others and nature?

The content:

Selections from Emerson’s essays “Self-Reliance” and “History” and Thoreau’s “Walden”

The skills and activities:

Deep reading, clear thinking, lively discussion, walking, journaling, voluntary simplicity exercises, essay writing (optional).

Ben Franklin – Autobiography of a Super Man

The big questions:benjaminfranklindiscoverselectricity

  • How did a printer’s apprentice educate himself to become a successful business and political leader, author, scientist, and diplomat?
  • What can we learn from this avowed autodidact about our own life’s work?

The content:

We will read selections from Franklin’s Autobiography and Poor Richard’s Almanac that help us to understand how to emulate his love of life and learning.

The skills and activities:

Walking adventures, deep reading, clear thinking, dynamic writing and journaling, drawing.

Vancouver’s Voyage of Discovery in Puget Sound

The big questions:

  • What did Vancouver’s crew find when they arrived to explore Puget Sound?
  • What did they choose to write down about the experience?
  • What can we learn about our area, our relationship to the land and it’s aboriginal inhabitants by reading what these early explorers wrote?

The content:

We will read selections from:

  • The diaries of Vancouver’s crew members
  • Other historical material for context
  • Nautical charts of Puget Sound

The skills and activities:

Walking adventures, deep reading, journaling, drawing, map skills, visiting local native and historical sites.