At the back end of last year I read an interesting interview with Audrey Tang about Taiwan’s coronavirus response. (Tang is a fascinating and thoughtful person who’s doing some incredible things with government use of technology, education reform, and civic society engagement in Taiwan; they’re well worth looking into.)

The interview is interesting enough, but one distinction that Tang made really stuck with me: the difference between building competence and building literacy. That’s the focus of this week’s article: how do we distinguish between these two seemingly similar concepts, and how do we build one rather than the other in our organisations?

This week’s article

Build competence, not literacy

There’s a big difference between literacy and competence, but we often conflate them by mistake – and create cultures and organisations that are fragile as a result.

Click here to read the article »

This week’s two interesting links

If You Can’t Find a Spouse Who Supports Your Career, Stay Single

A fascinating view from Avivah Wittenberg-Cox on navigating one’s career and relationships as a woman in the 2020s, in which she concludes that women need either a truly supportive partner, or no partner at all.

“‘I didn’t know,’ many of the men I interviewed told me after their wives left. To me, this sounds a lot like what corporate leaders tell me after their most senior female executives quit. They hadn’t expected them to leave, hadn’t quite understood how upset they were by the attitudes, the lack of recognition, or the promotion of the less competent man down the hall.

“But in the end, underneath it all, it isn’t true that they didn’t know. The reality is they didn’t care. They didn’t listen – because they didn’t think they had to.”

There’s lots of work to be done by men – and the companies that they still overwhelmingly run – to fix this, and Wittenberg-Cox has a useful starting list. #

No More Children's Books by Celebrities

Tom Whyman looks at the glut of big-name celebrities writing childrens’ books:

“There is an increasingly obvious problem in the children’s books industry, whereby celebrity authors are able to attract big advances, and outsized promotional pushes, for books which are often simply no good at all.”

“Children deserve better than this. What they really deserve is artists: writers and illustrators who will provoke them to think differently about the world they are – yes – just beginning to learn about, and who will thus help them to understand it in a better, deeper way.”

He goes on to recommend a particularly interesting example, one that might make a better choice for a “half-known niece or nephew” than the latest big name. #