5Atomize, Serialize, Magnetize, and Keep Your Velocity

Illustration of silhoutte of a school of fish (nine fish). While eight fish are seen moving toward the right-hand direction, one fish, with a fin, is seen moving in the opposite direction.

Solving for Distribution

In the age of the educated consumer, every previous solution to a vital problem is now accompanied by a host of parallel solutions. In some ways, the growth of our problems is less worrisome than the need to keep up with the multiplicity of our solutions. Even if they all work, each solution demands a unique approach to execute. This means we have to be flexible and pivot quickly even in moments of certainty.

Education is one example. No part of the working population can rely, as it once did, on the sole solution of finite standardized education by age cohort to prepare it for a career. And at no point can education, including professional and vocational education, be said to be “completed” anymore. The gap between the rate of change and our collective institutional ability to cope with it, what Thomas Friedman calls our “physical technologies” and our “social technologies,” is now too large for that to be the case.1 For education to be relevant, it must be continuously refreshed.

All the traditional activities of education, like meeting in classrooms, doing homework, group work, and studying, are being arrayed in a host of new ways. Collaboration, while once limited to in‐person meetings between students, can now happen asynchronously via the Internet. Startups like the Khan Academy are turning ...

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