May 16, 2009

Smart And Gets Things Done

Which is more important: being smart or getting things done? In other words, should people be commended for coming up with really brilliant ideas, or for working really hard at turning those ideas into reality? I agree with Joel Spolsky when he says that both are important.

Being smart includes:
  • Being creative, that is, synthesizing existing concepts in novel ways in order to develop solutions to problems.
  • Thinking outside the box.
  • Developing new ideas.

Getting things done includes:
  • A strong work ethic.
  • The self-discipline and perseverance to see a task through to completion.
  • Project management skills.

Being Smart

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is smart and gets things done. His idea for a social networking site was nothing short of brilliant. But the business only exists because he did something with his idea.

Getting Things Done

When I started my first software company, I had no idea how much work it was going to be. Had I known, I probably wouldn't have even made the attempt. My business was successful because I had a smart idea and got things done. I needed both.

In The Classroom

How are we preparing our students to be smart and get things done? Which do you emphasize most in your classrooms? It seems to me that most K-12 educators focus more on the "gets things done" side of the house. We're more interested in the fact that students complete the assigned work, following our instructions to the letter, than the ideas that students come up with.

If students don't have clear instructions, they become totally lost. All but the very brightest students are unable to come up with creative ideas on their own. We're producing a generation that is really great at following instructions and copying examples.

Making the Facebooks and Googles of the world is a lot of work. But it also requires creativity. Let's not forsake one for the other.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Hmmm. I think that people have all sorts of things to offer, but they have to be competent and stay up to speed with the job expectations. Keeping an open mind to learning is important at any age. You are right. The perfect solution is a creative person who is willing to seize an opportunity and work hard.