He's just started as president of the Rhode Island School of Design, but we'd love to appoint designer John Maeda to another position we just invented: Official Ambassador Between Academia and Business.
The man is firmly entrenched in higher learning--he has earned a brain-busting five degrees!--yet he's also the guy big corporations turn to when they need serious problem-solving (clients include Phillips, Reebok, Samsung, Google, and Cartier). He's fluent in the language of both, so to say. Oh yeah, and he's also an athlete: He organizes Jogging with John for creative entrepreneurs in Providence: "For those who like a dose of ideas with their morning run."
In a just-released Harvard Business Review article, Academia vs. Industry: The Difference Is in the Punctuation Marks, Maeda and Becky Bermont say the disconnect between work and school can be overcome with a few simple punctuation marks. Here's a crib sheet to the new vocabulary:
Apostrophe ('): "In academia there is the luxury of time. Thus when a thought might start, it doesn't necessarily have to finish. You can begin ... and not necessarily end."
Period (.): "In industry we like to hear the virtues of 'execution' and 'getting things done.' Got an idea? Set a target deadline. When you're done, package the result and move onto the next task."
Exclamation mark (!): "In industry it's important to be heard. Speaking up is critical for an individual's or idea's survival. 'I can't hear you.' No. I really can't. So what do you do? YELL. YEEEEEELLLLLL."
Question mark (?): "In academia there's always a need to think critically. Debate is the starting- and ending-point for all meaningful dialogue. Got an idea? Question it."
The point of all this (get it?) is that great businesses need to learn the vocabulary of education's punctuation marks. A more perfect balance for training smart entrepreneurs? The Question-Period, something Maeda says he's trying to instill in his students at RISD.
[Via Design Observer]