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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Could a Diagnosis of Mental Illness/ A Learning Disability Be An Advantage in the Knowledge Economy?

Yesterday's solutions are failing to solve today's problems.  Businesses and government are looking for bold, innovative, "out-of-the-box" thinking to create new opportunities.  Being untested and risky, these new ideas will need some determination and charm to sell.

If boldness, creativity, lateral thinking, risk-taking, salesmanship and tenacity are the desired traits for employees in the Knowledge Economy, how does one identify them?  How does one foster them in students looking at the workforce or employees?

There's a diagnosis in this.  All those traits are related to neurological conditions that have been labeled as "learning disabilities" (eg. ADHD) or "mental illnesses" (eg. bipolar disorder).

There's a connection between health care costs and mental illness.  There's a connection between workplace absenteeism/productivity and mental illness.  There's a connection between mental illness and innovationEducation and business are by and large missing the boat on the latent opportunity here; governments are spending oodles of tax payer dollars on trying to cure lead poisoning.

What we label "mental illness" is today's left-handednessEvolution has selected these alternative cognitive abilities for a reason; we are trying to cure what we should be accommodating.  That's not to say there aren't negatives that need to be properly managed - there are - but how much of an impact do environmental factors (friends, family, work, etc.) really play on exacerbating or even fostering the negatives?  Has that been researched?  If the positives are desirable, can accomodation and work/workplace design help to both mitigate the negatives and harness the positives?

Perhaps "crazy" isn't part of the problem - in fact, it might just provide us the answer.

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