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Most businesses teach their people to be stupid. Yes, being stupid is actually encouraged. I have heard many people even say, “It does not matter if it works, only if it is duplicatable.” What? So if something is working for you and your unique personality, stop doing it because the next guy can’t copy what you are doing? It is time we get something straight, unless we focus on teaching leadership and thinking, we are teaching the people of our organization to be mindless followers, not productive leaders.

The great book Linchpin talks about how the robber baron millionaires from the early 20th century used uneducated people in their sweatshops to make themselves rich. Andrew Carnegie even decided that education caused violent strikes and hurt his business.  The robber barons decided about 100 years ago that if they wanted to be really really rich, they needed compliant uneducated factory workers.  Workers who will be productive and willing to work for less than the value that their productivity creates.  This system worked for a long time, but today, the factory system is breaking down, just ask General Motors.

Linchpin says that schools should teach two things:

  1. Solve Interesting problems
  2. Lead

Memorizing is what is taught in school today, not problem solving or leadership. The whole education system is based upon passing an exam, not creating leadership skills or decision-making abilities.

Leaders in direct sales organizations have been teaching their “factory” workers for years to say the same things, memorize little sayings and get together once a month for a shot of enthusiasm to keep them from quitting too early before they can sell them some more presentation tools or product.  Many entrepreneurs and members of direct sales organizations mock traditional education. Let me tell you, direct sales has a failing grade in real education too. It is time to start teaching our people to solve real problems and lead, not just memorize if we want to thrive in the new economy.

Times are changing my friends, we live in the new economy of an information age. Just teaching a budding sales person or field marketer to follow an easy presentation will not build that person into a leader. Entrepreneurs who are taught to memorize a certain pattern and copy it exactly are no better off in the long run, and neither is your business.  If you want to keep churning people, teach them to follow a set, non-thinking presentation. If you want to build a business that lasts, teach them to think.