Once upon a time in a faraway place there was a school that prepared students for the magical world of work, a world for which none of the students have ever been. In this school they taught their students the best way to do everything and prepared them to be successful in work and life. As part of the first lesson the instructor taught his students about the concept of Teamwork.
He explained to his students, Teamwork is defined as, work performed by a group of individuals towards a common goal. Students quickly wrote down the definition.
“In the magical world of work, you will either be the Manager (someone who gets work done through others) or a Team Member (someone whose individual contribution assists in getting work done) . Any questions?” Patricia raised her hand and asked “What does a manager do?”
The instructor replied, “Well the manager decides what everyone does.” The students accepted his answer and were ready to move on.
“Ok class now as part of our lesson on teamwork, we will form teams. I need three managers,” for which every hand went up.
The instructor explained that, “In the past it was very difficult to choose a leader in the magical world of work. There are many qualities and considerations for an ideal Manager. Thankfully, some very intelligent people got together and compiled a list of data about choosing the best leaders. Now there’s an App for that.”
The instructor pushed the button, “William you have been selected as the Leader of Team 1.” This announcement was followed by sounds of joy and delight “Laurie Ellen, you have been selected as the leader of Team 2.” More cheering “Barbara, you have been selected as the leader of team 3.”
The instructor stated, “Now that the managers have been selected. I need to assign team members.”
He explained, “In the past it was difficult to assemble a team because of individual strengths and preferred leadership styles. Luckily, now "There’s an App for that!". He pressed the App button and the teams were set.
Each Team Member reported to the Manager for their group. It was announced that each team would be assigned a task to complete. The assignments were given out and the leaders looked confused. “How do we assign the work?”
The instructor replied, “That is an excellent question, one for which I have an excellent answer – There’s an App for that. Based on efficiency studies researchers know that by using this App you will get 30% more productivity." It was accepted and the work was divided.
Each Team Member looked at their assigned work and had the same confused look that the Manager had, “how do we do the work?” I know that you will be surprised by this, but since each of your jobs have been analyzed, we can tell you the best way to do all tasks and we can analyze all of the potential mistakes. “There is an App for that.”
As part of their final project all students presented their work and with such excellent advice and resources every one of the students received an A. On graduation day, companies from all across the land came and offered all of the students jobs, and all of the students accepted.
At the first day of work, William showed up promptly, proud, and ready to go. He had been top of his class, team leader, and was going places. The HR manager introduced himself to William and explained that he would show him around the office and introduce him to his team members. At the first desk the HR manager stopped and said, “William, this is Nell, she complains about everything and will tell you why all of your solutions won’t work.”
In a slightly confused gesture, William looked down at his phone and frowned.
They moved to the next office, “this is Rhonda, she will talk behind your back and do things to undermine your authority and worst of all she will eat food out of the group refrigerator regardless if you name is on it or not.” William again looked down at his phone in a confused manner.
They went on to the next office, “this is Harry, he has great ideas but gets distracted easily and hardly ever follows through.” William continued in the same manner as he had before.
The HR manager then showed William the team meeting area. It was very small, and had very poor circulation, which made for a hot, smelly room. Will looked disappointed.
The last stop was the resources room, which was pretty bleak. On the shelf was a single box with several labels on it. Before William could look down at his phone again the HR manager, asked “William, Why do you keep looking down at your phone?” William explained, “Well, in school we learned the best way to do everything and whenever we were assigned a task that was difficult our instructor showed us an app to help us. I noticed that I couldn’t find an App to deal with any of what you’ve shown me so far and I don’t know if I can do this job.”
The HR manager asked William to see his phone, “ Ahhh I see the problem…. Your Apps are all for the Magical World of Work. This is the real world of work those apps don’t work here.”
William looked devastated. The HR manager pointed William to the box in the resource room, “If you want to be successful here you must rely on what’s in that box.” William read the labels, Flexibility, Initiative, Self Direction, Clear Communication, Perseverance, and Problem Solving skills. He quickly opened the box and looked inside, “It’s empty!” he exclaimed.
The HR managed looked puzzled now, and responded to William’s disappointment, “Of course it is you’re the only one that can fill that box.”
As educators, we have to ask ourselves, are we sending our students out in to the real world with a box that is full or empty? Being a good facilitator is the key to cultivating the essential skills for students to be successful in work and life. Basically, when we set up project based learning and work out every step, every resource, and answer every question directly we are telling students, “There’s an App for that” one for which will not exist in the real world of work.
What are your thoughts?