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Knowledge workers and Nelson Mandela

By Phillip Green, Lucidea COO

I was saddened to hear the news of Nelson Mandela’s death.  Inmagic has a long history with our South African customers and the changes that their government has under gone over the last 30 years.  I thought I would share some of that history.

Inmagic in the 1980’s made a decision to suspend sales to South Africa.  This was done in the context of the international divestment movement and the call for economic sanctions against the government of South Africa.  However, with the release of Mandela, in 1990, Inmagic revisited our earlier decision and we resumed sales to South Africa. With the resumption of sales we started a program to work toward constructive change, donating 5% of gross revenue from sales to South African-based educational charities.  This program stayed active until Mandela was elected President of South Africa.  On a more personal note, I visited Cape Town many years ago witnessing apartheid first hand and more recently toured Robin Island, where Mandela was jailed for many years.

In many ways Mandela’s journey and that of a knowledge worker are very similar.  Knowledge workers often have preconceived notions of the where they want to go and or what path they are on.  But when they seek additional knowledge to improve on their current situation or process, sometimes they find information that challenges their current thinking.  If the knowledge worker keeps an open mind, seeks additional confirmations, and ultimately engages with the community, they often find much better ways to move forward.  As well as a helpful community with which to engage in, they may find themselves producing outcomes almost inconceivable when they started their knowledge quest.

In think Mandela was amazing human being and an exceptional knowledge worker.  He tried many different paths to a goal, and after each step he analyzed his next step, constantly taking in new information and constantly changing directions, but keeping his eye on, and ultimately achieving his goal. We are all lucky to have been here during his time on earth.

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