I had the rare fortune of interviewing for a job the other week (as I have almost always been asked to do things, or bid or put proposals). Unfortunately there was only one moment when I managed to jolt the interviews – a great way to know you have their attention. Asked about the importance of strategy documents, I said I consider them basically useless.
Their value, I proposed, rests only in capturing and reminding people of the meaning making that has already occurred amongst those generating the strategy. The important part is the meaning making process, as like it or not, a) strategy needs to be understood and shared by those implementing it for it to actually be followed and b) strategy needs to be a living, dynamic management of overall direction, that responds to an ever more complex operating environment, something a very dead document can never do. Blindly following a document that you might not understand or that you don't agree fits the changing context for the organisation is the opposite of strategic thinking and action: it invites only petty political plays and overall, strategic blindness on behalf of the organisation.
The Arlington Institute is a great clearing house of interesting signals in the field of humanity's development of materials and their manipulation. The most interesting item to arrive in my inbox for several weeks is this special alert from the institute's President John L. Petersen:
It appears that we may be on the verge of an extraordinary breakthrough in energy production.
The Irish company Steorn, (www.steorn.com), in a brilliant strategic move, took out a full page ad in The Economist to tout their new energy technology – now called Orbo – which they say uses no input energy and produces usable output. They were soliciting for candidates for a jury of scientists to publically evaluate their claims. They got 5000 responses, 1000 of which were from scientists. Although initially looking for 12 jury members, they settled on 22 who are in the process of evaluating the technology and will issue a report in the fall.
Of course, the jury is still out, (and traditional science says it is impossible) but take a look at this five minute quarterly report by Steorn’s CEO and tell me if you don’t sense that these guys probably really have something and are proceeding in a very sophisticated way to bring it to fruition.
I had lunch with my friend Eddie Mahe today and we discussed this. Eddie said, “If this is true, it changes all scenarios of potential futures.” He’s right. We may be about to witness the birth of a new energy source that rivals the discovery of fire.
Indeed, I scoured every page of Steron's website and listened carefully to the videos. These seem like cluey, considered, and well intentioned people who just might have disproved in the most brilliant way a fundamental law of thermodynamics. And they're going about proving it and presumably dispersing their technology in a very astute and respectable way. Not educated in such technical things, and without enough information to call it a hoax, I'll wait eagerly for their public demonstration mid-year and the outcomes of their independent scientific assessment.
Every futurist needs to go back to the drawing board with their clients, now!
Um, this one hasn't really created the stir in the public that perhaps it should. Bees in both Europe and the US are dying at unprecedented rates. Some reports between 30%-90% of bees in particular states in the US for example have died in the past year (billions and billions of bees). So what's the problem? Well, lets go back to an Albert Einstein quote:
If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.
Love to hear your thoughts about this important signal amongst the noise…Perhaps it has something to do with the toxic unintended consequences of GM crops, like the new evidence against GMO corn.
Gulp. Boy could our human-hubris be about to catch up with us.
I recently watched the latest episode of the BBC's Spooks (the last episode in Season 5 downloaded courtesy of uTorrent and ISOHunt). The episode's main plot, besides the obligatory end-of-season cross-over emotional subplot, was about environmental terrorists threatening to blow up the Thames Barrier that serves to reduce the impact of flood waters on the low lying London. Their one demand before everyone involved became manifestly irrational was that the British Government publish in full a planning document code named 'Aftermath.'
The premise of the fictional Aftermath plan? Accept that climate change is not only inevitable, but already too progressed to be corrected, altered or mitigated in any way, and simply get on with adapting to the tectonic like changes by securing existing energy supplies, key infrastructure that will survive and generally capitalising on the ensuing chaos while squashing any trouble at home or with those pesky EU neighbours. The plan's co-authors were, of course the United States.
Stepping back into reality, this far-fetched plan isn't such a stretch.
Economic analysis by CSIRO, ABARE and the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change shows that the early introduction of carbon price is affordable and will not make electricity more expensive. It will also be a billion-dollar international industry. This fact sheet refutes some arguments about the potential problems of carbon trading.
This was released before the recent article from The Age providing its background and highlighting the carbon trading scheme of Origin Energy, the Business Council of Australia's publication of a Strategic Framework for Emissions Reduction (PDF), and the Business Roundtable on Climate Change's recent report arguing that "early action to reduce emissions would add $2 trillion to GDP by 2050 and create more than 250,000 jobs."