In this series, Bob Morris poses a key question and then responds to it with material from one or more of the business books he has reviewed for Amazon and Borders.
I first became aware of this concept when I began to read several books written by Howard Gardner, including Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century, and Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership (Margaret Mead, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., George C. Marshall, Pope John XXIII, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Margaret Thatcher, Jean Monnet, and Mahatma Gandhi) co-authored with Emma Laskin. In essence, the concept asserts that all human beings possess a combination of cognitive abilities. Each requires quite different development in order to enable us to complete quite different tasks.
For example, in his latest work, Five Minds for the Future, he identifies and explains five separate but related combinations of cognitive abilities that are needed to “thrive in the world during eras to come…[abilities] which we should develop in the future.” Gardner refers to them as “minds” but they are really mindsets. Mastery of each enables a person:
1. to know how to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding;
2. to take information from disparate sources and make sense of it by understanding and evaluating that information objectively;
3. by building on discipline and synthesis, to break new ground;
4. by “recognizing that nowadays one can no longer remain within one’s shell or one’s home territory,” to note and welcome differences between human individuals and between human groups so as to understand them and work effectively with them;
5. and finally, by “proceeding on a level more abstract than the respectful mind,” to reflect on the nature of one’s work and the needs and desires of the society in which one lives.
Gardner notes that the five “minds” he examines in this book are different from the eight or nine human intelligences that he examines in his earlier works. “Rather than being distinct computational capabilities, they are better thought of as broad uses of the mind that we can cultivate at school, in professions, or at the workplace.” And they can be nourished simultaneously.
He concludes his book as follows: “Perhaps members of the human species will not be prescient enough to survive, or perhaps it will take far more immediate threats to our survival before we can make common with our fellow human beings. In any event the survival and thriving of our species will depend on our nurturing of potentials that are distinctly human.” Some may view these comments as being naïve but I do not. On the contrary, I view them as an eloquent assertion of what is imperative, yes, but also as a sincere affirmation of what is possible.
Comments, questions, requests, or suggestions? Please share them. They will be most welcome and I thank you for them. Best regards, Bob