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The Tomorrow Makers Journal is a collection of musings and reflections on how humankind and the rest of our living planet may find a way of escaping to a higher order.


Wednesday
Apr272016

We Play in Centuries!

In civilizations with long nows, says Brian Eno, "you feel a very strong but flexible structure . . . built to absorb shocks and in fact incorporate them."  From The Clock of the Long Now, by Stewart Brand, 1999

When Matt and I began working together, he was just coming out of two years of deep learning and reading. He was looking at the patterns embedded within Cybernetics and systems theory, requisite variety and other systems coming out of the 30 and 40s.  We both read Future Shock and many, many other books on the future.  Many were brilliant until the end.  But in the end, no one offered brilliant solutions; in fact, there were no solutions leading to a better world.  The ideas fizzled out or were merely small linear transition steps. 

Matt was teaching a course: Redesigning the Future and part of his assumptions were:

  • There would be as much global social/economic and technology change in the next 30 to 40 years as there had been since the middle ages;
  • That most individuals had more capability then kings and queens of the past.
  • Each of us had more freedom and license to change and design our world than any time in known history.

I was working in education where everyone should have been thinking and designing for the future. Success for a teacher is 15 to 25 years in the future when their students would mature and begin to shape their own futures. Thinking beyond getting students through the year was rare for teachers.

It was clear to us that the future was happening by default, not design!

Thus as we designed and developed our first group workshop focusing on the future. We incorporated Matt's assumptions into our thinking. One of the first modules we did was a 100 year time line ... 50 years back and 50 years into the future.  Since our first workshops were family inclusive we had a number of young children who participated in creating the time line.  It was an amazing snap shot of a future in the making.  Participants moved backwards and forwards writing down their memories and assumptions.  Great fun and participation.  One idea sparked another and another as people came up one at a time and added a thought.  It was a worthy part of our SCAN. They began to see how they could shape the future, using the new found capabilities Matt had shared with them. And, best of all, participants, all from different sectors of a community began to trust each other. They were creating something together!

By the early 80's we had incorporated our into our vision the idea: "Everyone engaged in rebuilding Earth as a work of art"  Many of the participants were contributing powerful ways of seeing and sensing patterns.

Then we began working with Ernst & Young and while they put up with it, SCAN was just something they had to get their clients to endure. The time line was no longer essential, or if it was, maybe we could move it out five to ten years from the present.  Clearly the future vision and near term were in no meaningful way connected, one to the other.  As Ernst & Young sold to Cap Gemini, the time line got more and more sub optimized. It became tactical instead of exploratory, visionary, inpactful. This is not to say the work they did was not useful. It was and is. But rarely, does it ask enough of participants to think big, be bold, or to step up to transformation.

I tried several times to reserect the importance of playing with the future, looking at possiblities. Never did Matt or I see this as forecasting or predicting but rather an informed brainstorm.  The more we opened ourselves to the possibilities put on the timeline, the more prepared we would be to see reality when it came our way and could respond to it by design, not default. 

In the fall of 2014, a few of us met in Victoria and I once again incorporated the time line into the overall design of our two days together. It began slow but as our conversations warmed up to different thoughts it became more and more apparent that thinking about the future, playing long term, was at the core of our process and method.  We were about so much more than helping a corporation, or non-profit, or government deisgn for a six-month gain! As humans creating a world far into the future, our responsibility was to become foresighted, visionary, fruitful. This was practical and important.  We held the idea close wanting to develop it more, wanting it to become rich, essential, and not get dumbed down to fit within a tiny window.  We met again in 2015 with a slightly larger group and gave it more meaning. 

Since that time, I think each of us present in those sessions have been including We Play in Centuries concept in different ways.  I have liked the ways we have used it and how participants are stepping up and engaging with the future.  Each round brings new ideas and possibilities.  I actually think that an exciting one or two day event could be wrapped within We Play in Centuries and I'm looking for people who think so too! This is the work of Tomorrow Makers. 

Matt and I began our work in the 20th century. We are now well into the first 1/5 of the 21st century.  Our children may well be facing the quesion for how long they want to live. Forever? Perhaps. Certainly well into their 100's.  What kind of world are we creating for the 22nd century? Will we use our power? Our design essence? Our communities to create the world as a work of art?

Let's create a civilization with a long healthy now!

 

 

Sunday
Jan102016

Niche Economies

Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I am not the same, the next question is who am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!"

Sunday mornings are days for me to muse and reflect. Today Ive been thinking about "THE ECONOMY". What is the economy I wonder.  In the early 80's we talked about the emerging Global Economy which morphed into the Information Economy, which after some years became the knowledge economy. Now, with increasing rapidity I hear the terms Experience Economy, DIY Economy, Entrepreneur Economy, Gift Economy, Network Economy, Generative Economy, and finally the Nourishment Economy. I love the last two! What would it be like to live in  Generative or Nourishment Economies?

Or perhaps there is no more global economy or one economy from which everyone tries to find themselves.  Maybe we are entering the age of  Niche Economies or many parallel universes happening at once. 

When Nature regenerates it throws out thousands of seeds in order to generate a few. Perhaps as we leave the dying industrial economy and are in the midst of defining the new, it is natural to throw out dozens of ideas and possibilities before choosing ones most fit for our age and emerging possibilities.  How is it we make the healthier economies be the ones that thrive and live while the others lay dormant, unrealized? And what are the unintended consequences of having many simultaneous economies? What is the exchange rate, one for the other?How many can I live in at once?

 

 

Tuesday
Dec292015

Our 2016 Stories

 

Growing up we had a tradition of going to a great movie on Christmas Eve. This Christmas we were able to have that experience again. My two sons, their wives, and our two grandsons went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  We watched in awe in 3-D IMAX theater.  Some of the time, we felt we were there in the midst of the story. 

During the movie, however, I couldn't help but think of the war and destruction that occupied almost every scene.  And thinking back over the past few years, it seems to me that there was an overwhelming number of viscous battles and end of the world Armageddon visions. 

William James, philosopher and psychologist, once said that "We must develop a moral equivalency to war". It seems we are far from that. To my six year old Grandson, war is glorious and fun.  Many of the best selling movies are full of heroes and anti-heroes.  I understand Joseph Cambell's writings on the Hero's Journey and can certainly see that it is an essential part of becoming human and in that vein,  I can enjoy movies like The Force Awakens and the ongoing saga of good and evil. 

However, I wonder where the balance of the healthy, unwaring stories are. Who is writing them? Who is telling the stories of the new world in the becoming? There is good news popping up everywhere, but I must look for it, amongst the horrible news that our current media focuses on... and often misrepresents or in some cases fabricates for its own uses.  In 2015 there were a number of turning points.  I call them Janus moments where the head turns from looking back and assuming more of the same, to looking forward with optimism and hope.  The Paris talks was one such point but there were a number of them.  I put more than 200 articles in my Evernote data base about things occurring that have the potential to change the nature of how we work and live and play together.  Some will take years to unfold and cause us in mass to change our perception of what is possible but many signs are showing up everyday.  The adjacent possible is wiring itself around the old established fear based paternal way of thinking and behaving and finding exciting new avenues to travel.  Hopefully some of these ideas will begin showing up in our movies and books and dinner conversations.  We so desperately need the stories that can carry us forward toward a new world, one born of co-design, collaboration, and a world fit for all life. 

A participant in one of our events once said after a session, "My Mom always said when good things happened that they were too good to be true.  But, now going forward I will say about good ideas "This is good enough to be true."

May 2016 be full of stories good enough to be true! Let's uncover and write all the stories deserving a place in our history and our future. What if in each classroom, the day began with asking students for good news? Perhaps then, these good news stories could be folded into a longer story, maybe even a book written by our young minds. And, what if these classroom stories became part of dinner conversations and FaceBook stories. We, the people, are the ones creating this new world. Let's tell the stories!

 

Sunday
Nov082015

The evolution of the Knowledge Worker

"Every knowledge worker in modern organization is an "executive" if, by virtue of his position or knowledge, he is responsible for a contribution that materially affects the capacity of the organization to perform and to obtain results". - Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive (1966)

“The task decides, not  the name, the age, or the budget of the discipline, or the rank of the individual applying for it. Knowledge, therefore, has to be organized as a team in which the task decides who is in charge,  for what, and for how long." - Peter Drucker, The Age of Discontinuity, 1968

In 1981 as Matt and I were developing our method and process, we called upon Drucker's use of Knowledge Worker to identify our way of working.  We fused Drucker's term with my work from the Learning Exchange re experiential education, and Matt's work with building crews and his studies in complexities.  We intuitively understood that the complexities of the future would require a deep understanding of collaboration and knowledge exchange.  We tied in Howard Garner's work with different intelligences and our understanding and support of the knowledge worker began to unfold.  Very few understood what we were doing as most facilitation processes were formed by a lead expert facilitator and several supporting administrator, organizers.  Even those on our team that we called Knowledge Workers balked. Few understood Drucker's understanding of the emerging future. 

Neither Matt nor I wanted to grow a large organization so our response was a network of knowledge workers.  Our dream for KWs was that they could give us about two weeks a month and for the other month they could do their writing, art, science, school or what have you.  We created a pay system that would provide freedom to pursue their dreams.    Needless to say, we were ahead of the game.

However, in the 80's there were massive layoffs from the large corporations. They were forsaking their belief in life time employment.  Fast Company responded with an article call A Brand Called You and Tom Peters wrote a book called the same.  Companies of One were beginning to emerge.  The dot.com bubble also forced people out on their own.  This was a fertile time for incubation and beginning the quickening of the knowledge worker. 

The knowledge workers, born of the MG Taylor process were several steps ahead.  One, they were already a network and had learned the art of collaboration and design.  They knew how to find each other and they established a sapient leadership spirit amongst them.  Two, and perhaps most important, they had learned how to play as a core part of the work.  They became designers, makers, doers and players ... some of the most sought after skills today. 

Today, articles like The Dark Matter of Open Making; Six ways work will change in 2016; Meet KEE, A Social Network for Tackling Societal Problems. In my mind these all grew out of Peter Druckers first definition and the MG Taylor understanding for how Knowledge Workers would in the long run, help shape a new economy. 

I think we are all born natural makers and knowledge workers. The good news is that the Millenials don't seem to be outgrowing this natural inclination.Over the years ahead, knowledge workers will take many different forms and seek to make differences in all kinds of ways.     In Druckers words "The task decides not  the name, the age, or the budget of the discipline, or the rank of the individual applying for it."  Just think what we can do!

 

As I'm finishing this, I'm listening to KQED's Forum and Tim O'Reilly talking about the market place of the future.  Right now he is talking about a base income for all and what it could and will facilitate! What fun!

 

Thursday
May212015

What Do You Do With An Idea?

In the light of the great value placed upon creativity, a stranger to our planet might infer that it is rare indeed. Yet nearly all of the characteristics of the creative mind are present in young children! The child explores the environment, coins words, synthesizes phrases. S/he relishes surprises and copes with a challenge. S/he daydreams, discovers, asks questions unceasingly. Her perceptions are fresh, strictly his own."

Marilyn Ferguson, The Brain Revolution, 1973

My son, Todd, gave me a precious Mother's Day gift.  What Do You Do With An Idea is a book written for the child within each of us.  Kobi Yamada, writer, and Mae Besom, illustrator have produced a wonderful book revealing how ideas come into your life, sometimes invited, sometimes not. 

Where did it come from? Why is it here? What do you do with an idea?

It is true, at least for me, that my best ideas come to me. They do not come from me. It is true that in the beginning, they seem to settle within my head as a tiny seed.  They demand attention. 

I can act like it doesn't belong to me, I can walk away from it.  But it follows me. 

The authors unfold the story as the idea grows and demands attention and stewardship. 

But there was something magical about my idea. I had to admit, I felt better and happier when it was around.

It wanted food. It wanted to play. Actually, it wanted a lot of attention!

It grew bigger and we became friends.

And finally, the idea gets accepted and a friendship evolves...

Then, one daym something amazing happened. My idea changed right before my eyes. It spread its wings, took flight, and burst into the sky!

I don't know how to describe it, but it went from being here to being everywhere. It wasn't just a part of me anymore...it was now part of everything!

And then, I realized what you do with an idea... you change the world!

A colleague and I once set out to write a book about where ideas come from. We covered our white walls with potential content. Our thoughts were filled with inspiration and ideas that showed up in this book. But, they were far more complex and convoluted.  Now reading this book, I think we missed the mark by not asking the idea for the book to lead us, to write the story. Instead we tried to time box it, control it, influence it with complex ideas.  We let the idea slip away.  But it didn't die; it found a new home, a new way to grow into something wonderful and precious!