Posts Tagged 'futures'

The Role of Tomorrow’s Leaders

So today Wes Roberts, a man who acts as a mentor-type in my life, gave all of his legions of mentees some homework:

Watch and listen to these six [Harvard Business Review Future of Leadership] videos (none more than 15 minutes long…so take a breath…).  Two of them have multiple voices (like the first one…), so I will want your thoughts about each person speaking concerning what they are saying/suggesting…whether alone on the video as the one interviewed or in a short series.  Send to me via an email the 2-3 most important statements you heard that will help to inform your own developing leadership.  What struck you about their topic as a whole?  And what challenged you in your current and/or future roles as a leader?

I hate to waste perfectly good homework, so I’m going to blog these. : )  In this first one, The Role of Tomorrow’s Leaders, many things were said – some contradictory. Watch it for yourself:

 

 

Here are some one-liners that stuck out to me:

Leaders of the future…

  • Need to give things away
  • Have much less control in the present than in the past
  • Manage across borders
  • Are networking, connecting leaders – distributed leadership at all levels (Starfish)
  • Are more hierarchical? Structure of management still there; Ambidextrous leadership
  • Can’t be stuck in counterproductive, anachronistic mindsets
  • Build connections – bridge-builders, crossing different assumed boundaries
  • Are utilizing new resources in a rapidly-changing world; navigating uncertainty
  • Are finding common purpose amid social, cultural, & identity difference

I have nothing profound to add to this on a lazy, hazy, returning-to-Raleigh Saturday (except that KedgeForward can help your company make the above deep-culture transitions and more!)…what are your thoughts?

Multitextured Future: Introduction to Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)

In my MSF program, we review all sorts of different theories of society & societal. These theories have direct implication on our theories and visions of the future. There are many different approaches in the futurist discipline; there are basic/gestalt theories, systems thinking theories, and more semiotic approaches. My favorite approach by far combines the strength of each of the aforementioned theories into a meta-theory/framework model called Causal Layered Analysis, or CLA. Developed by Sohail Inayatullah, CLA looks at the future from four interdependent layers. Quoth Wikipedia:

Causal layered analysis consists of four levels: the litany, social causes, discourse/world-view and myth/metaphor.

  1. The first level is the litany – the official unquestioned view of reality.
  2. The second level is the social causation level, the systemic perspective. The data of the litany is explained and questioned at this level.
  3. The third level is the worldview/discourse. Deeper, unconsciously held ideological, worldview and discursive assumptions are unpacked at this level. The way in which different stakeholders construct the litany and system are also explored.
  4. The fourth level is the myth-metaphor, the unconscious emotive dimensions of the issue. The challenge is to conduct research that moves up and down these layers of analysis and thus is inclusive of different ways of knowing. Doing so allows for the creation of authentic alternative futures and integrated transformation. CLA begins and ends by questioning the future.

Fun stuff, eh? Most American futures studies programs focus exclusively on the Litany and – at most – systemic levels. The schools of foresight developed out of Hawaii, Australia, Europe and Japan focus more on epistemes and intuitive inner/spiritual futures – almost like a wisdom school. (In fact, that’s exactly what Prout College is – and I mean that as a high compliment.) The Regent MSF program – and KedgeForward Consulting – combine the best of Southern Hemisphere-meets-west, empirical and intuitive, into what we hope is an AQAL approach to truly integral futures. Taking all quadrants of human and nonhuman experience into account – inner and external worlds, personal and social. Kedge On!

Ahem. Back to CLA. You can get lost for hours on Dr. Inayatullah’s insightful website Metafuture. In fact, I highly recommend doing so.

Texas Talking Secession – Really??

So apparently the Right is having some kind of ‘tea party‘ today, protesting excessive spending and big government. (Really? Where were you these past 8 years??)

So, um, Fox anchor Glenn Beck, a key organizer of this tea party, is also urging states’ secession from the union. Think states would be too crazy to try such a thing? Think again! Texas – or a faction within her – comes through for us in the form of Governor Rick Perry a few days ago:

[Concise version here.]

Forgive me if I feel like the SNL ‘Seth and Amy’ Really…Really?? skits – but really, arch-conservative friends? For eight years you stand silently by while your man is in office, eroding our freedoms through the Patriot Act, expanding executive and governmental powers exponentially, never saying no to a spending bill, particularly those involving his trillions-of-dollars Iraq war? You just sit that one out? Really?

And so now, when a new administration inherits this moral and economic mess, and wants to invest (what I’ll admit is an incomprehensible amount of) money into restoring some of our core infrastructures, creating green jobs, and keeping things from spiraling out of control, now you find your voice and principled fortitude? Really??

Ideals and Means

I love socio-political ideals, and I think variety is the spice of life. I’m not trying to pooh-pooh your ideas, but I am asking you, my libertarian friends: Is this the right way to go about introducing your ideas, in a way that will further polarize a tired nation? Is this good timing? Secession – really? Let’s examine this along conservative lines…is it good for national security for our enemies to see us a divided states of America, right when we’re over-invested in an exorbitant overseas war and riding an economic maelstrom? Is secession going to help the economy? Is it going to help your poor neighbors? Are you looking for civil war? What on earth could be motivating you, right now?

I don’t have much of a dog in this fight…I grew up basically libertarian, and these days have anarchist leanings. I appreciate certain underlying tenets of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and I’m as unsure as you of current government responses to our macro-economic problems. But I do think that the Obama administration spending is principled spending, I do think they have a plan, even if it’s not something I’d align with every jot-and-tittle on.

When I was a kid – and before I married a beautiful black woman – I romanticized the South’s side in the Civil War. (I was a fundamentalist homeschooled kid in the ’80s, after all! Civil War re-enactors were common in my churches and homeschool groups) The battle for states’ rights, local vs. impersonal; these all seemed like worthy fights. Now, as both a follower of Jesus and an anarchist wannabe, I have a different set of values – though there are some continuities. I’ll address the continuities first: I do favor decentralized, locally-organized community. I think it’s the most sustainable way to self-organize and live – for food production, economics, et al. In one sense, Texas’s taunts and threats could be seen as a stepping-stone to just such an anarchist dream – but I doubt it. The belligerent attitudes I saw on display in the Governor’s video show me that if Texas were to secede, it would be a “Mini-Me” version of everything they’re projecting onto the Federal government. Texas rule would be at least as autocratic and top-down as they’re claiming the Feds are being. Now, for the part of me that’s inspired and empowered by Jesus: I don’t have a dog in this fight because I won’t fight. Nonviolent direct action, yes. But violence – physical, verbal, or threatened – no. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword – it wasn’t just Tupac who said that.

Let me put all my cards on the table: I hope that, 100 years from now, statehood is a thing of the past. I hope that the United States of America goes the way of the dinosaur. I hope the same for China, Russia, Brazil, Cuba…you get the picture. And I plan to work for this goal – respectfully and nonviolently – in my lifetime, in my 2009. But my methods cannot be incongruent with my goals. I want to see generative local communities working together in whatever interdependent relationships with other local communities that they wish. I don’t want revolution – revolution is too costly, and the ROI sucks. I want to see an evolution, which begins with a transformation in consciousness – a transformation that, I believe, is rooted in the renewing of our minds in the mind of God in Christ. Others who are not apprentices of Jesus will see this transformation practiced in different ways – I welcome them as neighbors and friends. So for me, consciousness change + local action change + global meme change = the change we seek. I don’t place faith in secession or the status quo to be what we’re looking for – it will only perpetuate cycles of violence, regime change, and decline.

North American Union or Divided Nation-States of America?

Here’s what I see happening: For years now, many on the far right and in anti-globalization quarters alike have feared the formation of a proposed North American Union, a Canada-US-Mexico trifecta that would institute a common currency and eliminate borders, paving the way for a continental monolith. I think that fear of potentially negative dimensions of this scenario have created an anxiety-fueled counter-scenario in the ‘foresight imaginations’ of many. As I’ve learned in futures studies, images of the future are powerful social indicators, containing in themselves the seeds of a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s look at this counter-scenario a little bit, from the fringes to the halls of power other than our own.

John Petersen of The Arlington Institute talks about intra-national division in an interview with EnlightenNext about 1980s research on

remote viewing exercises. They asked twenty-five hundred people to envision the United States in the year 2030. About eighty-five percent of them reported the same thing: It’s a place with no government, divided politically into four quadrants, and everyone is living in small communities, some of which are very defensive and full of guns and others where people cooperate and work together. Then Stephan Schwartz, a man who was involved in the U.S. government’s remote viewing program developed during the Cold War to psychically spy on the Soviet Union, reported a very similar thing. In his remote viewing exercises, he asked thousands of people what North America would look like in the year 2050, and they said: “There’s no government; it’s split into four; there are these small communities.”

Weird? You bet. (Especially strange that the US hires both remote viewers and Peterson himself on occasion – hey, Minority Report isn’t the only place where precogs work – welcome to real life in the 21st century!) And speaking of those Russians, leading Russian political analyst and professor Igor Panarin has said since 1998 that the US will divide into separate parts. Last fall, he said he saw the signs of this happening in 2009…

six parts altogether. The first one is the Pacific Ocean coast of the USA. I can give you an example: 53% of San Francisco’s population is Chinese. The Governor of Washington state was an ethnic Chinese; its capital, Seattle, is called the gate of the Chinese emigration to the USA. It is obvious that the Pacific Ocean coast has been gradually influenced by China. The second part in the south is definitely the Mexicans. In some areas, Spanish has become the official language already. Then comes Texas which has been openly fighting for independence. The Atlantic coast has a totally different ethnos and mentality. It could be split into two parts as well. And we are left with two central depressive areas. May I remind you that five central states where the Indians live had announced their independence. It was perceived as a joke or a kind of a political show. But the fact remains the same. Canada is making a strong influence in the North. By the way, Russia may require returning Alaska, as it had been rented out… [Full interview here; HT Brittian Bullock]

What a fascinating psychographic, rooted in the unconcious minds of probably millions across the past several decades and now reaching a tipping point. My point is not to comment on the ultimate validity of such visions, but to say that we (I’m speaking to my tribe of foresight practicioners primarily and fellow USAmerican inhabitants secondarily) need to take these scenarios seriously, flesh them out vividly, explore their implications and then act, concsciously and creatively. And I hope that people of faith could embody life-giving practices in this coming shift, becoming leaves on the Tree of Life ‘for the healing of the nations.’

Carl McColman’s 7 Theses on the Future of Christian Spirituality

I’ve just read the most important spirituality post I’ve encountered thus far in 2009. It’s short, but powerful. It comes from my friend Carl McColman, who’s finishing up his much-anticipated Big Book of Christian Mysticism. Here’s an early peak at one of his concluding chapters, on the future of Christian spirituality (or mysticism) – Carl’s Seven Theses, I’m calling it:

  1. Christian mysticism in the future will be increasingly Trinitarian.
  2. Trinitarian Christian mysticism in the future will be essentially relational.
  3. Christian mysticism in the future will be increasingly earthy.
  4. The future of Christian mysticism will hold apophatic and kataphatic spirituality in creative tension.
  5. Christian mysticism in the future will embrace interreligious wisdom.
  6. Christian mysticism in the future will embrace scientific knowledge and will celebrate its own evolutionary nature.
  7. The future of Christian mysticism will be revealed to us through narrative and story, not just through abstract theology and philosophy.

There’s a lot of biblical and cultural wisdom packed into each of these theses; I’ve been mulling over several of these for some time now, but I love how he develops them. If you want to read how Carl unpacks this – or why you should care about ‘Christian mysticism’ at all – please take a moment and read his full post.

Dear Facebook: Please Lift 5,000 Friend Limit (A Modest Proposal)

https://i1.wp.com/i64.photobucket.com/albums/h189/simplychrislike/LiveRiot/n_1186439527_logo_facebook-rgb-7inc.jpg

Well it happened today: A. Jason Jones added me, and became Facebook friend number 4800. I have 200 friends to go before Facebook caps me out. In case you didn’t know, Facebook has a 5,000 friend limit. Their reasoning is that, unlike Myspace, they want to limit your contacts to actual friends, and curtail commercial abuses and that sort of thing. I get that. And yet, it feels a bit paternalistic that they get to decide who consenting adults add or accept as ‘friends.’ It’s true, I accept & request people on the basis of shared affinity – people interested in comic books, futures studies, house church & emerging church, fellow authors, et cetera, et cetera…not just my high school & college buddies, co-workers, and flesh-and-blood friends. But so what? I enjoy my e-quaintences, and to some degree they must enjoy me too, or else I’d be pruned from their lists by now. Sometimes I meet a Facebook acquaintances who’s in town over coffee, and we become friends of the more flesh-and-blood sort. Sometimes powerful business partnerships result, or new activist initiatives. Or conferences or meetups or…

Continue reading ‘Dear Facebook: Please Lift 5,000 Friend Limit (A Modest Proposal)’

Does Anyone Have a ROM?

https://i2.wp.com/sswhsle.com/ROM/002_Front.jpgNo, not ROM Spaceknight, you comics aficionado sillies; ROM as in the über-high-end 4-minute workout machine that just screams Range of Motion (hence the acronym). I found out about it one night whilst venturing into the back pages of my Atlantic Monthly, something I rarely do for fear of being pelted by the conclusions of articles that have already taxed my ADD-addled attention span to the limits, arranged between ads for the Belgian Waffle Pro and custom-crafted leather bookbinding. I know, it’s what I get for subscribing to The Atlantic (and Harpers, and Mother Jones, and other magazines that make me what my friend Gareth calls ‘a certified member of the liberal white guilt intelligentsia’).

So anyway. I was flipping through the mag when I came across this ad, headlined in all caps EXERCISE IN EXACTLY 4 MINUTES PER DAY. I used to be a copywriter for a living (I still maintain some clients, but I mostly do my publishing consulting stuff nowadays), so I’m always a tough critic for ads like this. The sheer audacity of what comes next drew me in:

The typical ROM purchaser goes through several stages:

1.     Total disbelief that the ROM can do all this in only 4 minutes.
2.     Rhetorical (and sometimes hostile) questioning and ridicule.
3.     Reading the ROM literature and reluctantly understanding it.
4.     Taking a leap of faith and renting a ROM for 30 days.
5.     Being highly impressed by the results and purchasing a ROM.
6.     Becoming a ROM enthusiast and trying to persuade friends.
7.     Being ignored and ridiculed by the friends who think you’ve lost your mind.
8.     After a year of using the ROM your friends admiring your good shape.
9.     You telling them (again) that you only exercise those 4 minutes per day.
10.     Those friends reluctantly renting the ROM for a 30 day trial.Then the above cycle repeats from point 5 on down.

Take a look at this thing:

ROM machine

It’s, like, totally Zen. And it carries a $14,615.00 price tag. Holy Guacamole, Batman! And yet they have these 15-year warranties, and I’m adding up gym costs plus gas costs in my head, plus (of course) time costs – which are the biggest one for a certified-ADD father/husband/student/small business owner/author. Their ad concludes:

From 4 minutes on the ROM you get the same results as from 20 to 45 minutes aerobic exercise (jogging, running, etc.) for cardio and respiratory benefits, plus 45 minutes weight training for muscle tone and strength, plus 20 minutes stretching exercise for limberness/flexibility.

O. Really?

Well, I’ve poked around the internets, running keyword searches like “ROM scam” and “ROM ripoff” – nada. Instead, I see testimonials from people who really seem to be losing weight, building muscle, feeling better, and having more time on their hands. For someone who’s never been into sports (or athletics of any kind for that matter), I’ve gotta admit: four minutes a day is appealing.

So here’s what I’m thinking.

I just turned 29 last month. Less than one year from 30, I’ve been taking a lot of inventory of my life. In my Foresight@Regent courses, we learn a mode of personal and organizational learning called Systems Thinking – popularized by Peter Senge of The Fifth Discipline fame. The gist is we’re always creating the life we live; we’re always designing it. The problem is, most of us design it by default, unconsciously, and often in self-sabotaging ways. Bringing life-design to a conscious level is a skill set we humans are just developing. (Hence the rationale for Strategic Foresight, btw) This ‘intelligent design’ happens on societal levels of course, but also personal. These past couple of years I’ve been privileged to have some wonderful people in my life – mentors, life coaches, and even (gasp!) therapists and counselors who are helping me work through my ‘shadow’ sides and interact with reality in a more healthy and whole manner. I guess what I’m seeking is integration, a whole life well-lived for myself and others. Isn’t that what we all want? https://i0.wp.com/www.christianitysite.com/IMG_0292%20fence%20flower%20edit%20a.jpg

So: A friend of mine, Drew, was recently reading Integral Life Practice, edited by Ken Wilber and published out of the Integral Institute. The Integral folks are always fascinating, what with their map-making theories of everything and all. It turns out they have a great programme for ‘whole-life cross-training’ involving our physical, mental, and spiritual selves. Taking a cue from ILP (I’m still reading my own copy of the book), I’ve decided: I want to develop a doable life-rhthym, one that incorporates Centering Prayer, maybe some Yoga or DoxaSoma, and – of course – physical training. True, the apostle Paul said (in perfect Elizabethan English) “bodily exercise profiteth little,” but hey: that guy built low-cost dwelling for a living. I’d like to see him sit behind a computer all day and tell me that! (Plus at four minutes a day, I’d like to think even Paul would approve.)

In short, by the time I’m 30 I’d like to:

  • Engage in centering prayer daily – ’cause we can all use more of the conscious fellowship of the Godhead in our lives.
  • Practice Yoga – seeing as I have the grace and flexibility and in-touch-with-my-body-ness of a dried-up turnip
  • Exercise my body – because I need cardiovascular health; I want to keep up with my little girl; I like natural endorphin highs; I like to concentrate on my work; I need to lose 50 pounds this year

…and I want to do all this in about an hour a day. Because I want to delve more deeply into my studies, love my family more, spend more time with my neighbors, and hang out more with my friend Hugh Hollowell and his homeless friends downtown. Stuff I think I could do with some whole-life cross-training.

What If…

What if I could somehow procure a ROM? (I have my ways) Would any of you, dear readers, be interested in charting my progress with me? I’m thinking I’d blog about what it’s like for a time-management-challenged guy like me to engage in some ‘intelligent life design,’ how it feels to make positive, healthy, & consistent changes, and if this ROM thing really does what it says. Since workouts are ostensibly only four minutes long, I’m thinking that once a week I’d actually record my entire workout and put it on YouTube or Vimeo or something. It might not be as funny as Will It Blend?, but I’m thinking a pasty white guy like me working out could provide some of you with catharsis or comic relief.

Please comment if…

  • You have experience with the ROM or some kinda similar exercise equipment
  • You’d get a laugh out of seeing some ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics and workout vids along The Countdown to 30
  • You have stories of your own whole-life rhythms and lifestyle design you’d like to share
  • You want to make fun of me.

Update 12/10: I’m getting a ROM!

Skill Sets for Futurists?

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I want to blog a bit about Transmillennial 2008, but until then I want to share something I’ve been working on concerning the skills that those engaged in Strategic Foresight should tend and cultivate.

Breadth

A Futurist needs a broad-base of interests, including science & technology, history, anthropology, art & literature, pop culture, faith & religion, sociology, ecology, and more…the sky’s the limit! Without the seedbed of breadth, many things will pass us by in our data-collection phase.

Creativity

Though much of Futurist work is, indeed, quantitative research, creativity must be exercised in interpreting the results and indeed in what to even include in our environmental scanning. An eye for the odd and intuition can pay significant dividends.

Flexibility

Futurists in forecasting need to be flexible, in order to try out many scenarios and be willing to admit to mistakes in methodology. We’re all wrong, and the sooner we can bend to this, the sooner we can spring back again.

Integral/Systems Thinking

The ability to consider the Whole when examining any facet is crucial for Futures work. Non-linear, integral thinking is key. One of the chief insights that Futurists can practice in everything from scanning to forecasting to personal life is that reality is rarely simple cause-and-effect; we each contain systems, are systems, and are parts of systems—or, to put it another way, everything is comprised of holons. Making connections beyond the obvious is crucial for holistic scenarios development; we must transcend personal and/or external blame-games.

A Love for People

Futures work is not done in isolation. Working with teams, conducting original research, and relaying findings and suggestions to clients and/or the public is necessary for successful Futures work. While some of each of these processes are carried out alone (and indeed, not all forms or genres of Foresight work involves human beings), the human component is a lynchpin.

Strong Work Ethic

Futures work is interdisciplinary work, and at the heart of this is discipline. Because we’re always on the Bleeding Edge of the Possible (sorry to capitalize like a German, it just seemed Important), a strong work ethic is needed to help hold everything together. Practically speaking, this involves having good time management and research skills, as well as proficiency with various software programs. These fluencies provide the ‘invisible architecture’ of our work as Futurists.

Spiritual Center

Working with the dazzling and terrifying possibilities of the future is nerve-wracking work; a spiritual center is crucial. It is important to balance hindsight and foresight with the insights that we “are hidden with Christ in God” (Paul), “the Center does not move” (Buddha), and “take no heed for tomorrow” (Jesus). These are paradoxical realities for future-oriented professionals, but I believe they are needed for our balance and sanity. Of course, potential ontological realities need to be grounded, experienced and enjoyed in consistent spiritual practice or they are of little practical benefit.


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    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

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