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Education Growth Innovation Leadership Strategy Thought

The Future of Mentorship – [My TEDx talk]

The themes of growth, values, mentorship and leadership are some of my most endeared themes. I started life learning to embrace learning and growth, sharing what I have learnt with others willing to ‘sip’ and taking lessons from the lives of others – people i regard as ‘illuminares’.

On November 11, 2017, I gave a TEDx talk on “The Future of Mentorship – and what we can do about it” at TEDxIsaleGeneral. Beyond sharing some thoughts on this theme – which is off the beaten track, according to a mentor – I savoured the moments i had learning from other speakers and attendees. Everyone is a story worth sharing!

Sharing at TEDx IsaleGeneral

As requested, below is a -rough- transcript of the talk on The Future of Mentorship. I’ll include the link to the video when I get it from the TEDx team. I will love to read your thoughts either in the comments, via mail or on Twitter.

Future of Mentorship and What to do about it

December 12, 2012, with the help of a few friends, I started an annual leadership programme that grew from accommodating less than 30 emerging young leaders from Nigeria to over 200 young leaders from more than 35 countries. About five years into building Studership from a project to some sort of community, it struck us that we failed in one of our responsibilities.

While we succeeded in connecting and promoting drive for development in the hearts of these young people, we felt that we failed. We felt we failed because we didn’t provide a structured mentorship system for each and everyone of them.

After a couple of conversations with some fellows, I observed a pattern; though we didn’t make the mentorship component visible, mentoring happened nonetheless. Among participants. Within leadership learning teams. Within the community. In subtle and fluid manner.

Mentorship is an individual and corporate investment in hope. One of the best mentoring relationships I have had is with someone, who strives daily to be dispensable; He strives to make himself increasingly unnecessary – though available. True mentorship evolves from the diminishing dependence of the mentee on the mentor.

One of the things my experiences with mentors and mentees have taught me, is how to study and understand elements of the future. The fast changes in technological advancement and human desires will also influence what we (and generations after us) know as true mentorship.

Mentorship of the future will be influenced by what I refer to as the koinoina effect. The koinoina effect is that state of wholeness caused by deeply unique fellowship, communion and partnership in a relationship.

Briefly, let us analyse what trends to expect about about the future of mentorship: [here are three things that will characterize mentorship of the future].

1. Mentorship in the future will be characterized by a mix of high human touch and high-tech. Like we do today, we’ll continue to leverage technology to make communication, learning and collaboration easier, while holding on to – and ‘incentivising’ the – values of love, trust and compassion. Societies, clusters, organisations and individuals that thrive will be those who encourage the tradition of honesty, vulnerability and openness.

2. The line distinguishing roles of mentors and mentees will be diminished, making it easy for both parties to switch roles fluidly, at interval.

3. In few years, there will be the emergence of an artificial intelligent (AI) mind – one that has access to several other algorithmic systems and data – capable of delivering personalized advises, guidance and mentoring to individuals based on data-symmetry of individuals we admire and long to learn from. Through meta-learning – this AI will learn about our most preferred role models and can advise me based on knowledge about them.

With a very subtle presence, this AI will work like other algorithms that help us with search or recommend friends we should connect with, but with more sophisticated abilities. Using surveillance and sousveillance technologies, it will be capable of making knowledge of and from the greatest minds alive (that can be your dad, mum, the richest individual in the world, your most adored political/business figure – whoever you want). This AI will be capable of advising you based on the knowledge of whoever you admire all at once – using on available data about each of them, and their up-to-date individual online experiences. The company(ies) that control this AI will be rich in data, and the users of these AI will ‘always’ get correct, predictive responses.

Will you take advice from an AI mentor?

With the exciting revelations and experiences awaiting us in future, we must remind ourselves of the roles we need to play to enhance our humanity.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
First, more than before, there is the need for deeper connection with people and greater investments in people. Mentorship involves the peddling of hope.

Second, we need to increase our awareness of the ethics of the technology we make use of, and request that we – as a people – are at the center of our data. We need to request and ensure that while interacting with any technology, our values are recognised and honoured.

Third, we need to do some soul-searching, ask and find novel answers to some questions. How do we reconcile what technology does with the need to incentivise character values that make life worth living? How can we make that merge? How can we individually and collectively promote deeper connection within ourselves, among our communities and the generality of mankind?

Finally, we need to value our collective culture beyond race, ethnic background, sexual orientation and political inclination. I refer to the culture of being human  Over the course of the future, we need to allow our relationships reflect our humanity- our abilities to be helpful, loving, trustworthy, compassionate and human.

In the end, all we have is one another.
Thank you.

What future of mentorship do you see?

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Innovation Thought

Embracing Intersection – Being Comfortable with the Unconnected

I have always caressed the subject of innovation and strategy. One thing that is obvious is that most times, some of the best ideas come from the unconnected. Over the last four years, I have seen myself brainstorm on and advice on several ideas – some are on areas I don’t have core expertise on but I had strong vibe to learn and grow. These areas are what Frans Johansson calls the intersection in his book ‘The Medici Effect’.

The Intersection is the unknown territory where we cannot easily apply past knowledge and experience. Some of the most successful innovations come from the place of interception.

For me, the intersection is uncomfortably soothing – and I love the challenge, knowledge and comfort it brings. I remember a discussion with my Dad earlier this year, where I confided in him that sometimes, deep down in my heart, I really don’t know how to recommend the paths I tread to others. Not because I don’t want others to learn, but because those paths don’t seem conventional and connected.

People stay in a field – even when they are convinced they shouldn’t – because of the time spent in the field. Lots of emerging professionals continue with what they do unhappily because they have spent years studying a thing, even when their hearts aren’t there. I have seen people whose ONLY reason for proceeding with further studies (Masters/PhD for instance) in a field is that they studied that subject in their first degree (even when they don’t like it). I have seen businesses stick to what they used to do that didn’t work because they thought that is their niche. The decision to invest more time (and resources) in anything should be based on what’s going to happen in future.

I agree that consistency is very important; it makes sense to be a expert in an area. What if we can throw that ‘long-standing caution’ in the wind, and embrace innovation and ideas outside of our current domain of expertise? We must never allow what we have done in the past become a criterion for what we can do in the future.

What drives me in most things I do is how I can understand how these unconnected sectors work and how we may influence the future of education and governance through technology and values-based leadership. This seems audacious and will require me to be comfortable staying at intersections – even if they don’t seem to pay off at the moment.

Embracing intersection requires that we acknowledge our fears and embrace risks – it is not as easy as writing this, but it is worth it. It means embracing the risk of forming new relationships in the new field, learning at an exponmential rate and I agree that the intersection unleashes great creative powers through the explosion of concept combinations; for those thinking about ground-breaking innovation, this can represent a gold mine of ideas.

 

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Innovation Thought

Beyond Oil: Transportation in Africa by 2030

Technology holds enormous potentials in every sector of the economy. Transportation 2.0 is another catchment area we must tilt our education and governance to affect.

India recently unveiled plans to use only electric vehicles by 2030, without depending on any petrol or diesel vehicle. Countries in Africa – Nigeria especially – must start to plan towards a post-oil economy. By 2030, electric and solar vehicles, VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) transporters autonomous vehicles, transport drones and tunnel transportation should be part of our realities.

With the right mix of leadership and economic/business model, these possibilities can be accessible to most people who can’t even afford a car today.

The clock ticks now. We have about 13 years to make this work.

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Innovation Thought

Empathy, Beyond Us

One of the skills important for preparing for the future is empathy. We need to build empathy into our values as leaders. In a similar vein, our friends that write algorithms need to seek ways to build in empathy into their codes.

As these codes and algorithms shape our realities, we need them to be empathetic. Our world becomes better – the relationship between humans and technology becomes much more productive, when values align.

Can we build empathy beyond us?

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Education Innovation Strategy Thought

How Virtual Reality Can Help You

My first encounter with Virtual Reality – without the real immersion – was earlier in 2015. I did up some readings, reviewed some researches about the potency of the technology and somehow, left the thoughts of both virtual and augmented reality for some other things :).

Months later, I joined some great tech minds at the first Virtual Reality MeetUp in Lagos (if not in Nigeria) organised by CuratorsU. The rise in information and seemingly democratisation of Virtual Reality gears are making the virtual / augmented reality experience less expensive and more accessible to people. Just like the smartphone spread across board some years ago, it is possible for VR / AR to be accessible to most people, and contribute to how we measure or achieve productivity.

Here are some random thoughts on how VR and AR may help us become more productive as individuals and a nation.

  1. Access to education. Can children in violence-prone communities connect to the best learning resources in the world through virtual reality?
  2. Psuedo-Tourism. My first ‘e-visit’ of the pyramids of Egypt was a 3D experience several years ago. Can the same be built in Virtual Reality? Can African Heads of Government provide that for children who may be interested in knowing how the Office of their President is?
  3. Election Monitoring. Can citizens have access (through a combination of VR/AR/360 degree live cast) to monitor collation of election results?
  4. Sports and films. Imagine sitting in your room with your VR headset and seeing the live stream of a match or a movie. This might be an opportunity for actors in the sport and entertainment industry.
  5. Storing Memories. Can memories of our heroes be stored up in a VR content?
  6. Can we start seeing documentaries in 360 degree? I know we can – I have enjoyed several documentaries. How about building indigenous contents that surpass global standards.
  7. How about reviewing how appropriate what you wish to purchase at the market will fit into what you intend using it for – through AR?
  8. Better productivity from better conversations. How about holding virtual 360 degree meetings?
  9. Simulations on leadership, team building can be gamified and built on the VR framework; that way, other professionals can get to learn and build their soft skills.
  10. Hotels and bookings. How about doing a virtual check-out of rooms in hotels before booking them online? Imagine the amount and quality of time that can be saved for other productive things.

What else can be done?

The list is not yet exhaustive; what is your thought on this? What possibilities do you see?

Share your comment below. I will love to know what you think.

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Education Innovation Thought

Blue Ocean Innovation

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the seminar jointly organized by the Students Affairs Division and the Nigerian Universities Engineering Students’ Association at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The association was led by Ifeanyi Okpala in whose company I am fascinated. I drafted this note – which is more of a manifesto to my colleagues – and sent it to him after the seminar.


Yesterday, March 25, 2015, I had the opportunity of a heart-to-heart conversation with some colleagues – all of whom are students from various colleges in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta – gathered at the College of Engineering Auditorium, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The occasion was a capacity-building seminar put together through the combined efforts of the Students Affairs division, FUNAAB, Office of the Dean, College of Engineering, and the Nigerian University Engineering Students Association in the university. I titled my presentation ‘The Blue Ocean Innovation’. 

The conversation became inherent having realized that to have an education and a life that is, apologies to Jim Rohn, built to last, we must, as young people, take responsibility and go beyond conventional actions. We must go beyond the red oceans – boundaries defined and accepted, the general marketplace, the common approaches – and engage untapped innovation, unrealized spheres through value creation. 

As I shared yesterday, I look forward to a FUNAAB community where students go beyond academic excellence and create value by putting solutions to social problems witnessed within the community. I look forward to students of the university birthing new ideas and following them through, engaging humans and technology, and giving courage to other young people across the world to do the same. As young people, we have the resources, but we must be resourceful. 

There are resources we can always tap into – either within or outside the invisible walls of our university. There are innovation-focused programmes and open courses (MOOCs), information banks, toolkits, and other resources available for only those who seek them. I shared with some friends what I learned from a 4-week course on Adaptive Leadership – a practical leadership framework developed by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky at the Harvard Kennedy School, and offered to us by the Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) – which I recently concluded. Though I am studying Plant Physiology and Crop Production, it hasn’t debarred me from learning about the fundamentals involved in Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation; neither did it stop me from enrolling and learning about International Leadership and Organisational Behaviour in Bocconi University, Italy. 

From what our team at AllforDevelopment discovered when planning to create our social innovation lab that can empower young people with skills to create solutions through social entrepreneurship, sometimes what holds us back from making great decisions is just one factor – us. Our major limitations are the ones we accept. We need to stop ourselves from entertaining fear and start taking action. Our time at the university should be invested into learning, flying the flag of excellence, and creating value per time. 

It is high time we conscientiously consistently started creating value. Value is created when we concentrate not only on our personal growth but also on creating solutions to the problems faced by others. We embrace and make use of several innovations because they speak to our needs. The time is now to start thinking outside the box and generate simple but golden solutions. This is more than a call, it is a challenge. It is a challenge for us to be more than we currently are; a challenge for us not to allow what is in preventing what can be. I have over the years met several intelligent and smart FUNAABites, some have concluded a part of their studies, while others are still in school. Let us connect, engage one another, and make our ‘short’ stay within the University count positively. 

There is a blue ocean out there – and in here. We need to acknowledge it, dream solutions, and engage resources to create positive value. I am interested in reading about your exploits; several lives are in earnest expectation of your action. 

Make your family and the university proud! 

Your friend, 
Damola