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Most Likely to Succeed

Greg Whiteley's new (as of early 2015) documentary about American education, "Most Likely to Succeed," makes the case that schools should teach students to be more entrepreneurial. Alexandra Heeney's interview with the director, Greg Whitely, provides a good overview. As of this writing there's a clip available on the web with some good content, such as the following comment from Thomas Friedman about what sort of skills employers are looking for:

So what is everyone looking for? They're looking for people who can do critical thinking and problem solving... in order to get an interview. Critical thinking and problem solving are really table stakes today. They assume you've got that. What everyone's really looking for are people who can not only do their job, but invent, reinvent, and re-engineer their job while they're doing it.

The documentary website claims (unfortunately without providing a source) that "Just 11% of employers—yet 96% of academic provosts—believe colleges are effective in preparing graduates for the workplace."

As often happens with such documentaries, it's unclear how to arrange to see it.



Google originally set its hiring algorithms to sort for computer science students with top grades from elite science universities.
In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas. ...
After bringing in anthropologists and ethnographers to dive even deeper into the data, the company enlarged its previous hiring practices to include humanities majors, artists, and even the MBAs that, initially, Brin and Page viewed with disdain. ...
Project Aristotle shows that the best teams at Google exhibit a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. ...
Google’s studies concur with others trying to understand the secret of a great future employee. A recent survey of 260 employers by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers, which includes both small firms and behemoths like Chevron and IBM, also ranks communication skills in the top three most-sought after qualities by job recruiters. They prize both an ability to communicate with one’s workers and an aptitude for conveying the company’s product and mission outside the organization. Or take billionaire venture capitalist and “Shark Tank” TV personality Mark Cuban: He looks for philosophy majors when he’s investing in sharks most likely to succeed.
- Valerie Strauss, The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students, Washington Post, December 20, 2017



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