Joi ItoWhat
does it mean when a world-class university that is a globally
recognized leader in innovation chooses a director who has not
completed his college degree? It means true leadership exceeds academic
rank, plain and simple.

The MIT Media Lab has taken the bold move,
announced today, to appoint Joichi Ito as its fourth director.

Joi, as he prefers to be called, is a 44-year-old
Japanese venture capitalist. His CV includes serving on the board of
Icann, the body dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable, and
interoperable. It includes his investments in start ups like Flickr and
Twitter. It does not include a completed college degree.

Joi is a current board member of the Mozilla
Foundation (developer of FireFox web browser) and is a co-founder and
chairman of Creative Commons, a pioneer in intellectual property and
the sharing of digital information.

According to the New York Times, L. Rafael Reif,
the provost of M.I.T., called Joi “the right person to lead the Media
Lab today,” describing him as “an innovative thinker who understands
the tremendous potential of technology and, in particular, the
Internet, to influence education, business, and society in general.”

The real news here is that MIT is choosing
innovation
and value above a diploma. They are playing hard ball. There will be
fall out and push back. And they will continue to lead the planet. They
know their strategy and they’ve got their eye on the ball.