Good Ideas Are Priceless

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Matt May's "In Pursuit of Elegance" blog is one I check regularly. The latest entry is terrific. It's about learning and how ideas should be rewarded. His view will probably surprise you.

The story repeats itself all the time. Companies treat employees like a rat in a maze after cheese, by paying for approved ideas and accepted suggestions. They then wonder why they get such low participation. They give no thought to the notion that in order to get a good idea, you need a lot of ideas.

Teachers at my daughter's school are notorious for the practice, and I take them to task regularly. They want students to read more books, so they reward the completion of books. Maybe with a homework exemption. Or extra credit. Or even vouchers to the local Taco Bell. So the quick and easy books get read. The superficial books get read. Even the good readers, the ones who love to read, get swept up in the program. They stop reading the classics, turning to the quick reads to score points. Then the program is discontinued, and everyone stops reading. Even the best readers lose their love of words. And that’s a true shame.

More instances of stressing the measurable (book count) over emergent qualities (love of words). What really counts in life is, ironically, those qualities you can't count or measure.

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