No Ledge

Access to applications and information is so prevalent today, it’s easy to think these things alone empower us to make significant impact. Consider these examples from popular culture:


A young girl works on her homework while her father fixes dinner. She begins asking a string of questions. “Do trees tell each other stories? Do clouds take naps? Can birds draw pictures? Do stars visit their friends?” When her phone can’t provide answers her Dad suggests, “Why don’t we go find out?” and knowingly whisks her away to Tamanawas Falls park where she sees first-hand the answers to each question. How did Dad know where to take her in the park with perfect timing to experience each phenomenon as it is happening?


Paul, a diabetic, is frustrated by his dietary restrictions, especially when eating out. He uses his continuous monitoring system on the back of his arm to know what his current glucose level is. With this knowledge, he gleefully orders meals with confidence in his choices. While the glucose reading is good data, it doesn’t provide all Paul’s nutrition and portion size options. How does he know how to apply that number so that his selections are healthy for him?


Maysi talks about how happy she is as a customer of her virtual bank, with no monthly fees and direct deposits arriving sooner in her account than traditional check deposits. “I feel like I can finally trust my bank,” she shares. “I always have peace of mind that my money’s in the right place and in good hands!” The convenience of fintech is a huge selling point, but how does she know that this bank is more safe and trustworthy than previous financial institutions?

This is certainly the age of convenience, but meaningful access requires more. Data reports on what we know here and now, but it isn’t transformative.


Knowledge has no ledge…no footing from which we can spring forward.

Human context, experience and insight are the springboard to the future.


Twenty years after my first book on intelligence and technology, I continue to maintain that our minds are the ultimate operating system. There’s no tool to supplant questioning, vetting of data, and visioning.

Influence and impact require more than access…they demand our personal commitment to the whys and hows of today’s opportunities. Push past the allure of convenience and dig into the rewarding work of making a difference.

Walter McKenzie is Senior Director for Constituent Services at ASCD, leading its affiliate, connected community, professional interest community, student chapter and emerging leader programs.

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