Just How Powerful Are You?

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Case in point: Crowdsourcing solutions often allow us to include voices and talent we've never heard before. By Nilofer Merchant (Contributing Writer, Harvard Business Review)

When you write online, no one checks to see if you have a journalism degree before they start to read. If you experience an earthquake and want to report on its danger or safety, no one asks your credentials before you report to Ushahidi. And if you were interested a creating a new company, you can simply initiate the idea and get funding through Kickstarter or Indie GoGo.

The gateways of power have changed. Or have they?

When I look around, I see a culture that honors being prepared, doing the right things to get ahead, and achieving more and more, starting with our education — we need to go to the right high school to get into the right college, to get the right job after college.

Our culture also honors fancy titles and brand affiliations, as visibly celebrated by the first question most Westerners ask on meeting someone new: "And who are you?"

It's as if knowing one's title and affiliation will let you know if a person's ideas are even worth considering. And of course, premiere venture capitalists talk with pride about "pattern recognizing" for success, signaling that they typically fund a 23-year old from Stanford over say, women, people of color, or those with a more diverse life experience.

All this, even though research shows creativity and innovation peak later in life.

So, which is it?

» Read the full blog post at Harvard Business Review blog.