As CEO of cloud services and software development company, I’m constantly thinking of how best to use capital, whether financial or personnel. The hardest decisions are always those concerning personnel. Of those, the hardest is finding the right people.
One of the first and best lessons I learned was while I was an intern at GE Information Services back in ’80. I asked my manager, “Why did you hire me?” (For my grades in piano and arts were better than math and computer science). I’ll never forget his answer: “We can train the skill, not the creativity.” And he proved it.
But where can we find these creative people? I am increasingly becoming disappointed in some computer science university degrees. They are becoming so specialized and myopic that they border on being useless in preparing to work in a company like mine.
Some have answered this question with “getting the word out.” Let everyone try their hand at coding. “Hour of Code”, https://code.org/, is a great example or visual programming for kids such as Scratch at https://scratch.mit.edu/. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the only ones that will try will be those that have some modicum of interest in computers and coding in the first place. Fortunately with computers, tablets, phones, there are more people interested, perhaps, than ever before.
But I have found that some of the most creative people are those that believe computers are not for them. Programming and design is only a math or logic thing and not very creative. Perhaps, we need another approach.
That’s why I excited about what the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has done with their “CS Unplugged” found at http://csunplugged.org/. They have made computer science an experience. And this may be the strongest connection to creativity. For, creativity is an experience. Even if imperfectly implemented, now there is a start to sharing the experience of computer science with creative people of any age without even a computer being there!
Then, perhaps, we may discover some hidden computer scientists.
Published Dec 16, 2015