Why STEMMA, Not STEM, Can Help The Best Organisations Thrive

Artistic image showing a creative flair colour mix

STEM is a popular acronym standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (or Math for our American visitors). STEM people help solve many different kinds of problems we have in our world today. With STEM, modern life is stunningly better. However, there is a problem ... 

... STEM is far from a universal panacea. In fact, STEM has a glaring weakness, a blind spot, an Achilles heel.

Why STEM Falls Short

As a writer, I believe STEM alone, is also simply too limiting today - even more so in STEM-based companies and organizations.

To use an analogy, if we're seeking a circle:

  • STEM is like a three-quarter pie-chart: the fourth quadrant is missing, incomplete, unfinished. However ...
  • Most "STEMers" don't see the difficulty: the missing quadrant may seem to be invisible, undetectable.

When asked, do most "STEMers" simply not understand or appreciate that there's even a problem, when all they can see is the full circle?

Or, put another way, we may have heard the popular phrase:

"To a hammer, everything is a nail".

Greater Risks Present In STEM

Likewise, this author wonders, do lots of STEM-oriented folks predominantly see the world in terms of science, technology, engineering, math?

If yes, a natural, not unexpected reaction, when we can appreciate that STEM-thinking fires brain neurons in specific patterns.

While the more astute, canny, wiser organizations employ a diverse mix of people from different cultures, different ages, the best also seem to employ more women in senior roles. Getting the "recipe" right can provide so many long term benefits.

However, while employee mix is admirable, STEM is still STEM. One huge drawback is that STEM-abundant organizations can often come across as faceless, robotic, uncaring — all negative human traits that seem to fester if left "untreated". Even when key representatives appear friendly, open, fitting, the magic can still be missing.

Today, naturalised authenticity is surely much better than marketing spin.

That's why, perhaps, focusing on STEM thinking alone can keep a product, an idea, or a service, stunted, underdeveloped, never fully realised.

While smart companies can create dominant "chess pieces", governments control the chess boards. To play the game, a partnership of sorts, however loose or fragile, between key participants, seems essential.

Though today, I believe the largest organizations benefit by thinking differently and moving more quickly in the right directions. However:

  • Sometimes, large "players" realise mistakes "at one minute to midnight".
  • In contrast, some are slow to react.
  • Other often STEM-dominated establishments may miss innovative solutions entirely that can be detected early by STEMMAs below.

Welcome To A Solution: STEMMA, My New Acronym

If STEM-think is too limiting, or stunted, forcing narrow-vision, maybe we creatives can offer a refreshing contribution, an expansion of thinking potential, an answer, a way out, or simply show a different, more human-focused path.


Let's start by extending STEM to STEMMA:

  • Science.
  • Technology.
  • Engineering.
  • Mathematics. Yes, and ...
  • Medicine. Plus the ...
  • Arts.

While medicine is not my core focus here, medicine is nevertheless a powerful mix of knowledge, skills, technology, and compassion, offers a kind of bridge between "hard STEM thinking" and more flexible STEMMA reasoning and reflections. Here's why.

At the far opposite end from science and technology, we have the arts:

  • Writing.
  • Poetry.
  • Painting (and of course, much more).
  • Sculpture.
  • Performance.
  • Etc.

Perhaps many representatives from STEM-based organizations might puzzle and wonder how contributions from the arts can benefit what they do. That's a good question to ponder and address.

The clue is in the puzzlement itself: that is precisely why arts-based thinking can help. STEM-thinking alone, can keep us incomplete, lacking, deprived, deficient, bereft.

When we focus on STEM-think alone, like a horse with blinkers, we can narrow our vision. Even worse, our blinkers can seem invisible to us.

Handy tip: to help redress "narrow-think" that may be too conventional for a changing marketplace, savvy companies can recruit people from the opposite end of the STEM scale, to help them explore new boundaries, break new territory, widen the vista of what is possible.

So for example,

  • A shrewd technology company could resolve how to persuade writers and artists to work with them for a while, share ideas, reveal new insights, provide feedback from the "expressive side".
  • How: create new job roles that are designed to urge input from independent creative and artistic providers.

STEMMA, OED, And Working With Creatives

However, the point about artistic and creative people is that often they really do think differently to those in STEM - that's where the value can be found. So if you try to use the same textbook recruitment methods that you use for STEM, you may still end up hiring the wrong people — folks that may fit your mould too much, who are too close to, or sympathetic with, "STEM-think".

Instead, leading edge providers may want to tap into a different perspective, contrast, opposing views, and use that knowledge to break through problem areas in new, better, more attractive ways.

That's why for best return on your investment, tap into the power of OED: Opposite End Differences, combined with employment flexibility, looser thinking.

Sure, science and technology "live" at one end of the STEMMA scale, art and writing at the other. However, when you draw on abilities and competencies generated through contrasting thought patterns, you can soar and better navigate areas that might otherwise cause problems later.

Emotions, feelings, insights ... yes they count. And we all have them: who would have thought? :-)

At the top ends of STEMMA come "original" thoughts that are often "inspired" formed from illogical, uncommon links. Something over and above the mechanical thought processes seems to be essential to make "breakthrough connections". Without doubt, creativity calls on persistence and problem-solving skills.

That's why STEMMA is where true civilised living can be found, while STEM battling on alone seems like a  shadow cast in strong sunlight: the shape is there but the essence, depth and meaning is missing.

So if you want to put yourself ahead, showing a unique, more thought-provoking face, please, why not make plans to hire a STEMMA creative today: an artist, a poet, a writer, a performer.

Today, for creatives, and perhaps writers especially, the world seems to be entering a kind of new Dark Age. Or perhaps we're all just riding the temporary wave the best way we can during "the Age of Stupid".

In this new, writing-bereft era, many creatives today are struggling to make ends meet. So I implore you, do remember, original thinking takes considerable effort.

While  our world is awash with billions of social pictures and videos of cats, and dogs, and babies, and "me-me selfies", to help ensure we don't lose writers in their millions, who are rapidly being forced to choose other ways to earn a living, please employ independent creatives.

Otherwise ... once we lose them, there is no easy way to recoup those losses. Moreover sometimes, such lost opportunities can never be rekindled. A "once-in-a-lifetime" may have to wait for happenstance, luck, a whim from an unknown future.

Therefore, especially for the courageous ones, if you choose to hire a creative, please also remember, many creatives are givers, not takers. Their art is usually their primary focus. They may not be hugely money-driven or business-oriented. Their art may come first, however, like everyone else, creatives too have ongoing living costs — to which often, they may not pay sufficient attention.

So, please:

  • Don't look for ways to drive down their prices.
  • Do pay creatives their true worth: in the same way that we can assign special value to a unique sculpture, customised, authentic, un-copied reasoning from creative people surely has special value too.
  • Work with them, rather than try to constrain them to fit your "shape". Their difference to your company culture is surely one of the key reasons you, as a sharp employer, employ them: use that difference.

When Angels Hire Artists

News update: March 6, 2019. If you're a creative artist, there are more reasons to be cheerful.

Artistic thinking is a state of mind as well as a job role. Artists come from different backgrounds. That's why some of the most forward-thinking companies, including visionary AngelList founder, Naval Ravikant, are now exploring artistic thinking when hiring people of differing skillsets

The best people in any industry on the planet—whether they're building rockets or electric cars—are artists. Naval Ravikant, 

How A STEMMA Creative Can Help

With STEM, that's all you'll ever get. Yet at some point, your STEM product or service needs to connect with people, and people stories, drama, humanity.

Above all, remember, STEMMA also means stepping beyond STEM. So developing new thinking and ideas can take time to come to fruition. Opposite end scale inspiration often follows a different path to STEM. Yet STEMMA benefits are real, distinctive, pronounced. 

You can put the value you gain to help you.

For example, to:

  • Leapfrog your competitors.
  • Dodge political missiles — from afar.
  • Sidestep media and publicity traps.
  • Soften your sharp STEM edges.
  • Gain a competitive advantage from a new, uncommon perspective.
  • Stand out for the right reasons.
  • Demonstrate, show, and promote your human side.
  • Help transform your company or organisation into a more "rounded" operation.
  • Become significantly better at what you do.

To flourish, prosper, bloom in new ways, think STEMMA, not STEM.

Why not start today?

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