The best chapters of Italian history have been written by people who knew how to weave intelligence and vision — who were able to fight for change, instead of protecting the status quo.
On the podium of the Italian economy, the Northeast is a champion who, strengthened by her ethic of stability, focuses on continuous improvement. In her entrepreneurial anthology, there are no passages about China of yesteryear, a great inventor who curled up like a hedgehog not to be shaken by innovations that endanger the status quo. Stability does not mean standing still.
The north-eastern enterprises are sailing boats that move along the route of Knowing-How-To-Do (KHTD), traced by the success achieved so far and illustrated by us in the previous article. Professional and technical schools, which the Northeastern entrepreneurs rank institutions of higher education, are the learning centre of the ‘sailing’ practice.
For those who then wish to undertake university studies, the imperative is to run along the STEM filed – that is to say, to be instructed in the intellectual gyms of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
If it were not for the fact that, as happened with the steam that disrupted the equilibrium of the sailboat business, the rise of Artificial Intelligence is putting the KHTD on the corner, which could be born with new life only by pairing it with “Knowing-How-To-Think, Imagine and Understand.” A being together that requires familiarity with Art.
STEM changes to STEAM, where ‘A’ is the Art that breaks with the tradition of incrementalism. The innovationists – artists who dream, conceive and introduce radical innovations that win for decades – take over from the incrementalists.
A new ‘steam’ of the 21st century, STEAM changes the way we navigate the seas of markets, very agitated by Artificial Intelligence, and STIMA, the Italian version of the acronym STEM, enhances the work that becomes more and more creative and intellectual, and less and less physical.
Endowed with the ‘Four Knowings’, the new generations will be able to aspire to a job that is more enriching the greater its ludic quality. Like the hunter-gatherers of the Palaeolithic, the students of today should be trained to become hunters of ideas, having to exercise, tomorrow, a multifaceted profession. At that time hunting and gathering were not considered work; they were carried out with enthusiasm, not reluctantly.
Nowadays, a combinatory game between the composition of the most varied stories, artistic creations, and constructions of things configure the path of work. Along with that path, one can glimpse a horizon different from the occupations that physically and mentally exhaust people. As we have already said, “Entrepreneurship is art even before business. New enterprise creations are works of art. Art is a game of fun. Homo Ludens is the creator of a business. This figure coexists with the Homo Faber whose mind finds inspiration for innovative thoughts and with the Homo Laborans who sail in the sea of “doing things”.
Work and play will no longer be decoupled, and the game will improve working and emotional life. So, the ‘high’ school is a field of play that requires students to direct all their efforts to creative thinking rather than memorizing, to give priority to a real understanding of phenomena rather than obtaining higher scores, to conceive common models integrating the discipline chosen by each of them with all other fields of study.
That type of school is, therefore, an unmissable opportunity that society and business must take full advantage of to develop natural inclinations to exploration and playfulness. Attitudes that are repressed by teaching to obey authority unreservedly, to give answers without asking questions, to perform tedious tasks promptly. In the mind of the students all that raises walls which the play brings down by valuing imagination.
The student who enters this new territory of education invents a path, appreciating the transdisciplinarity and beauty of imperfection. Along the way, the explorer will ask himself questions to which he will give answers with the ‘Four Knowings’.
The Vespa designed by aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio was born from the play of transposition and transformation of existing materials to create objects that meet both practical and economic needs and symbolic and allegorical visions.
D’Ascanio leveraged on his expertise in the word of aviation to adopt a front suspension inspired by that of an aircraft’s landing gear and devised an engine conceptually derived from aircraft engines.
It is always to the ludic activity that we owe the Olivetti Lettera 22, a portable mechanical typewriter designed by Marcello Nizzoli and awarded by the Institute of Technology of Illinois as the best design product of the last 100 years. In his “Letters on the aesthetic education of man,” Friedrich Schiller wrote, “Man is fully human only when he plays.” A statement to keep in mind when weaving the countless threads connecting school and work.
When we remove the veil that offers a fuzzy and therefore approximate vision – our eyes are able to perceive only a few aspects of the reality that surrounds us – a borderless prairie is unfolded in front of us, along which Business, Innovation, and Art run not like foreigners and rivals, but crossing and embracing one another.
The encounter is much more than a (re)meeting to communicate with each other. It is, above all, an endless series of epiphany moments, of intuitions that lead to a higher stage of awareness. The field of perception of ideas that alter the common sense of things and generate future becomes more vibrant and more fertile. Counter-cultural firms design and build ideas factories featuring the play of symbolic analysts, characters of a new comedy of art where creativity is represented.
That’s how innovations blossom, which like all new creatures appear to be ill-shaped when they arise – so would say Francis Bacon.
Venturing into that plain is an intimate, subjective event that does not place technology at the heart of the scene, but the human being who connects knowing how to do with knowing how to think, criticize and cultivate with attention and respect that ‘triple alliance’.
Along the way there is no map to use; there is no predetermined direction to go. Who ventures there makes a personal path, appreciating the transdisciplinarity and beauty of imperfection – as the German performance artist Joseph Beuys advocated.
The explorer will pose questions to which she will provide answers with imagination and creative ignorance, the one that comes after the knowledge accumulated through study and experience. Such an exploration precedes and heralds the meeting of artists with scientists, researchers, innovators, and business creators.
To enter this new world, a revolution in the entrepreneurial spirit should shake the certainties of the high-powered productive Northeast.
(part 2 of 3)