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February 8, 2007

"Over The Horizon" Post-Mortems

Fred Kaplan's regular column "War Stories" for Slate Magazine became a weekly read for me during postgraduate studies at Monash University's School of Political & Social Inquiry. From his doctoral dissertation The Wizards of Armageddon (1983) to his analysis of the Bush Administration's defence policies Kaplan understood the human dimension of policymakers and the cycles of strategic thinking in US governments and think-tanks.

Kaplan's dissection of the Bush Administration's defence budget in February 2007 ends with the following observation:

This is all a game of funny money to begin with. We could hardly afford any of these things, vital or not, if the Chinese stopped underwriting our debt. It's a bit much, under the circumstances, to spend tens of billions of dollars on threats that some analysts foresee 20 years beyond the horizon and that are, at most, hypothetical even then.

Kaplan's critique raises an important problem for the new generation of Strategic Foresight practitoners.

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February 9, 2007

The Things They Never Teach You At School…

I've always been rude to my undergraduate lecturers by saying I got an education in spite of being at university. But that's not quite true with my postgraduate studies. There are, however, a whole host of things they never mentioned that are critical to the success of any foresight practitioner.

Of all the fundamental skills for a futurist, one that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves IMO (well, at least in my case;) is the art of facilitation. So often foresight processes involve in-depth interviews, small group processes and large group facilitation. Now, facilitation doesn't always mean b*oody butches paper and f**ing post-it notes. Although they are really handy. Facilitation can also mean what Dr Richard Hames calls knowledge design (to get a taste, see his blog here). Here, the emphasis is on the knowledge generation process of both individuals and groups.

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February 10, 2007

I Wear No Mask

Camilla: You sir, should unmask.

Stranger: Indeed?

Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.

Stranger: I wear no mask.

Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!

Robert W. Chambers, The King In Yellow (1895): Act 1-Scene 2d.

Chris Stewart mentions theater and psychodynamics in a recent post:

I started by reflecting on theater sports and associated skills (believe me, the ability to cope with psychodrama and respond from various perspectives is a critical capability of a foresight practitioner – especially when consulting into a bureaucracy!).

This post resonated with me for a number of reasons: it opened a door for me to reflect on the influence of psychodynamics and theatre in my education, and how it continues to shape my practitioner work.

In high school I learnt improvisation and theatre sports: a highlight was being the Foreman in a stage production of Reginald Rose's television play 12 Angry Men (1957) in which the on-stage conflict resonated with a simultaneous power game in the school council. In the early 1990s, I encountered Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook's philosophies on theatre in the context of the Gurdjieff Work. This period was about the "initiatory" potential of theater to be a self-reflective and transformative practice.

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April 24, 2007

Meaning Making, Politics and Strategy

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.

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June 12, 2007

Gabrielle Doonan on Organisational Storytelling

One Thousand & One's Gabrielle Doonan contends that "organisational storytelling" is a powerful methodology for change managers:

Essentially, change management is replacing existing stories in people's heads with new stories about the future. Narrative and story imagery are powerful ways to paint this vision of the future.

Cognitive Edge, formerly known as Cynefin, has been exploring this methodology for organisational change and knowledge management through its exemplar Dave Snowden.

Two fellow Swinburne MFFS alumni who are experts in this field: Luke Naismith and Tetradian's Tom Graves.

June 13, 2007

Ken Wilber's Integral Politics

For the past several years American philosopher Ken Wilber has been working on several new books that promise to expand and deepen his "integral" frameworks (as part of a broader initiative: the Integral Institute).

The first book is the long-awaited second volume of the "Kosmos" trilogy, after Wilber's Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1996). The second book is The Many Faces of Terrorism which Wilber revealed in an Integral Naked podcast discussion, and which we've exchanged emails on, due to my postgrad studies in foresight, counter-terrorism and international relations.

Wilber has now revealed that Many Faces is now an Integral Politics trilogy. You can read three excerpts here: the AQAL Code, Integral Politics and A Summary of Its Essential Ingredients.

I'll give some feedback & reflections once I've read the draft excerpts.

June 14, 2007

Quality Management Resources

For the past 2 months I've been in a quality management role at Australia's Swinburne University. Here I've started to gather some online resources on quality and its relationship to process, project and risk management; benchmarking; internal audits; and other methodologies.

September 6, 2007

Shambhala's Authentic Leadership Summer Program

Natasha Todorovic of National Values Center Consulting has tipped us off about the Shambhala Institute's Authentic Leadership Summer Program (2007). The resources include an Authentic Leadership program PowerPoint, talks on meditation by Art Sloan and Michael Chender, and Art Kleiner-facilitated scenarios. Thanks Natasha!

October 2, 2007

Agile Disruptive GTD

Meet The Life Hackers

Wired Magazine's Gary Wolf has an extensive profile of Getting Things Done author David Allen in the October 2007 issue.

Allen's GTD system is a heuristic for time and workflow management popular in Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley firms.  GTD gained visibility after The Atlantic Monthly's James Fallow profiled Allen in its July/August 2004 issue.  New York Times columnist Clive Thompson also mentioned Allen and GTD in an influential article on the "life hacking" movement, which includes sites such as Lifehacker and Merlin Mann's 43 Folders.  Allen has parlayed this exposure into the coaching firm David Allen & Co. and its subscription online community GTD ConnectLockheed, Microsoft Research and O'Reilly Media have all applied or debated Allen's GTD in their research environments.

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About Methodologies

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Futuristics in the Methodologies category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Litany Watch is the previous category.

Open Source Futures is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.