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Crazy Futures aka Rx for Leadership Scotomas (why plausibility is maladaptive)


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Short slidedeck on overcoming mental boundaries and expanding conceptual horizons in considering what possible futures may emerge, as a means to avoiding decision blindspots and black elephants / black swans.

Published in: Business, Economy & Finance

Crazy Futures aka Rx for Leadership Scotomas (why plausibility is maladaptive)

  1. 1. One person's craziness is another person's reality. Tim Burton
  2. 2. Rx for Leadership Scotomas (blindspots), aka Hunting Black Swans [This presentation evolved from previous conceptual work drafted for the UEFISCDI Crazy Futures Seminar, Romania, June 2011. 6 December 2011 Dr Wendy L Schultz Infinite Futures
  3. 3. What is crazy? In order to hunt for black swans, we must first acknowledge they exist. Some people may call that crazy. What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable". The New York Times. 22 April 2007.
  4. 4. relativity subjectively relative contextually relative temporally relative technologically relative culturally relative…
  5. 5. problematize Crazy problematizes ‘normal’ …and so do futures. [photo artifact from WIRED]
  6. 6. The Uses of Discomfort Rule. Defra Horizon Scanning (via Fiona Lickorish)
  7. 7. Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous. Dator’s Third Law
  8. 8. Conceptual Blindspots You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Inigo Montoya to Vizzini, in The Princess Bride
  9. 9. possible probable preferred Roy Amara, Institute for the Future
  10. 10. possible probable preferred Roy Amara, Institute for the Future plausible
  11. 11. Oxford English Dictionary: Acceptable, agreeable, pleasing, gratifying; winning public approval, popular. Obs.; Of an argument, an idea, a statement, etc.: seeming reasonable, probable, or truthful; convincing, believable; (formerly) spec. having a false appearance of reason or veracity; specious. Of a person: convincing or persuasive, esp. with the intention to deceive.
  12. 12. Images of the future: a continuum of infinite possibilities Set of all images of the future: impossible, possible, probable, preferable dystopias visions scenarios: downside scenarios: PTE (present trends extended) scenarios: upside utopias nightmares Categories are value-based and subjective against the preferable AND the ’plausible’: ’craziness’ is contingent.
  13. 13. Futures craziness scale? sanity / normality / plausibility completely bat@%$@ crazy my futures your futures their futures random futures random futures random futures
  14. 14. Methods Blindspots Do our usual tools themselves create blindspots?
  15. 15. ‘Horizon Scanning’: Origins Environmental (‘horizon’) scanning: Developed by Francis Aguilar, Harvard Business School, in Scanning the Business Environment (New York: MacMillan, 1967). First industry-wide use of scanning: TAP – Trends Analysis Program, American Council of Life Insurance, 1970 Widely accepted by business (Jain 1984); linked to competitive intelligence. Issues management: Fusion of public relations and futures studies -- links to public policy; Analysis of near-term issues and plans to address them. Emerging issues analysis: S-curve “life-cycle of change” (Molitor 1977) Leading ideas, events, authorities/advocates, literature, organisations, political jurisdictions (bellwether); and economic activity of society (shifts in production mode).
  16. 16. Life-cycle of Change Life Cycle of Change Schultz, adapted from Molitor Developmentofanissue Time scientists; artists; radicals; mystics specialists’ journals and websites laypersons’ magazines; websites; documentaries newspapers; news magazines; broadcast media institutions and government local; few cases; emerging issues global; multiple dispersed cases; trends and drivers system limits; problems develop; unintended impacts
  17. 17. !   Touring !   minimal targeting, many sources; sensing. !   Tracking !   minor targeting, few sources; sense-making. ! Satisficing !   moderate targeting, few sources; learning. !   Retrieving !   high targeting, many sources; retrieving. Chun Wei Choo, ASIS Bulletin ‘Horizon Scanning’: 4 Modes
  18. 18. Forecast: fringe thinking ahead? Empirical/ Evidence-based Research Futures Research, especially scanning Credible; Documented; Authoritative; Statistically significant; Coherent: the data agree; Consensus-based: the experts agree; Theoretically grounded; Mono-disciplinary. Emerging issues often lack apparent credibility; Difficult to document, as only one or two cases may yet exist; Emerging from marginalized fringe; By definition only one or two cases exist = insignificant; At emergence, the data will vary widely; No consensus – rejection due to paradigm challenges; Emerging changes often challenge previous theoretical structures and necessitate the construction of new theories; Most interesting new change emerges where disciplines converge and clash: a post-disciplinary perspective.
  19. 19. It’s resilience in uncertain times. The ‘right’ answer is to be prepared for an array of possible answers.
  20. 20. Futures fabber craziness? logical / quantitative / evidence-based prophetic mythic crazy morphological analysis econometrics shamanistic visions tea-leaf reading remote viewing systems dynamics modelling axes of uncertainty statistical extrapolation CLA crowd-sourcing artistic vision
  21. 21. Believed images. People’s beliefs about the future, and their images of the future, affect their decisions and actions, which in turn create the futures as an emergent property of aggregated interconnected actions.
  22. 22. Plausibility is maladaptive in a VUCA world. Wild, wicked, and vuca: volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity.
  23. 23. Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaotic Systems: The Cynefin Framework, David Snowden, Cognitive Edge S-A-R: Sense Analyze Respond S-C-R: Sense Categorize Respond A-S-R: Act Sense Respond P-S-R: Probe Sense Respond See
  24. 24. SIMPLE: relationship between cause and effect obvious. Solve by applying rules. GRAD STUDENT COMPLICATED: relationship between cause and effect needs analysis / investigation. Solve by applying expert knowledge in field. PROFESSOR CHAOTIC: NO relationship between cause and effect. WILD CARDS. DIVERGENT THINKERS COMPLEX: relationship between cause and effect can only be seen in retrospect. Solve by interdisciplinary investigation, deep questioning. EXPERT TEAMS Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaotic Systems: The Cynefin Framework, David Snowden, Cognitive Edge
  25. 25. Rx: Suggestions for Treatment A few methods that might erase your blindspots and help target black swans.
  26. 26. Rx 1: Three Horizons Framework Three Horizons Framework for Layering Change Life-cycles B Sharp, T Hodgson, A Curry Prominence(visibility)
  27. 27. 27 Identifying Questions for the Three Horizons Framework •  Does the change reinforce current working assumptions and patterns of production and marketing (horizon 1)? •  Does the change present completely new paradigms and means to understand and undertake various human activities (horizon 3)? •  Does the change identify a transition or accommodation for evolving tensions as current assumptions obsolesce, and transformative changes erupt into possibility (horizon 2)?
  28. 28. Rx 2: Causal Layered Analysis !   Can’t stick to level of ‘media buzz’ or observable facts – no explanatory power (Cynefin: simple systems) !   Can’t rely entirely on technical and systemic explanations, as those are filtered and constrained by existing paradigms and worldviews (Cynefin: complicated systems) !   Can’t rely entirely on existing paradigms and worldviews, as they are obsolescing, eroding – and culturally conditioned: what are alternative paradigms? (Cynefin: complex and emergent systems) !   To combat blindspots, drill down to deep culture – your myths, metaphors, and values: what are alternative myths, metaphors, and values? !   What alternative paradigms and worldviews to they imply? !   What alternative systems and research questions arise from the alternative worldviews? !   What alternative events and ‘buzz’ are generated by new systems and ways of explaining the world? Sohail Inayatullah
  29. 29. Rx 3: Futures Wheels Siri ubiquitous & biometric ID Futures Wheel market for ! “great voices”! work noisier! no passwords required! drop in carpal ! tunnel syndrome! Increase in worker productivity decline in worker compensation costs collapse of keyboard wrist rest market New licensing opp’ty for popular singers and actors pirate market: great voices “napsterized” Rather talk to your machine than you… Eg, Siri….
  30. 30. Rx 4: Crazy Futures Assumptions? You go to eat Building / site Staff: chef makes food Staff: servers bring food Wholesale suppliers Business / for-profit Customers pay You go to socialize Eg, restaurants…. Opposites? ? Mobile, nomadic: hot air balloon, treehouse Food printer, collaborative co-cooking Robots, dispenser Customers bring own raw ingredients Community resource Barter, in-kind ? Data/emerging? Pop-up shops; tree-house restaurant (Aus) MIT; Cornell; … Japan Forage (LA)
  31. 31. Rx 5: Crowd-sourcing !   Blog-mining !   Twitter topic chats !   Open brain-storming !   Alternatives to the Singularity: Rqc3KZGNxd3J0N3JfMzdmY2d6MnpjOA&hl=en_US !   Commentary on Alternatives to the Singuarity: !   Futures gaming !   Institute for the Future’s Foresight Engine: !   Jane McGonigal, SuperStruct: and EVOKE: !   Public narrative collection (eg, Sensemaker studies) !   Cognitive Edge:, and ! Sensemaker Suite: Eg, viral slidedecks….
  32. 32. Alternatives to the Singularity A collaborative presentation for/by grumpy futurists (This doc is now closed. Thanks to everyone who contributed; we be putting up a "Best Of" version soon. Here is more about the back story in the mean while.) [check speaker notes for other comments] Began August 3, 2011 Forked 9:45 am GMT, August 5, 2011 Closed for good August 7, 2011
  33. 33. The Crapularity 3D printing + spam + micropayments = tribbles that you get billed for, as it replicates wildly out of control. 90% of everything is rubbish, and it's all in your spare room – or someone else's spare room, which you're forced to rent through AirBnB. Source: @justinpickard A pile of worthless "crapjects" (neologism coined by @iftf)
  34. 34. The Abu Dhabularity High tech composites, space planes, advanced biometric border control, the world's largest indoor carpet, golf resorts, space elevators camouflaged as the world's tallest building, cyborg camel racing, and robot armies in Ferrari colours. Source: @nraford
  35. 35. The Grouponularity In which aggregate consumer purchasing power + pricing algorithms + applied captology, allows your mother (working in concert with everyone else's mother) to reduce the price of 99% of mainstream consumer goods to ~0. The global economy is replaced by something almost equally improbable. Unfortunately, it's comprised entirely of jet-ski adventure days, bread makers, and underwhelming restaurant meals. Source: @justinpickard
  36. 36. The Singaporularity Nanotech, exotic materials, viral sovereignty, soft authoritarianism, and desalinization gone wild. Cheerful, well-disciplined, racially- diverse pre-teens leading a world wide geoengineering blitzkrieg. Climate change? Solved. Civil liberties? Surplus to requirements. Source: @justinpickard
  37. 37. The Thomas Friedmangularity In the 1970s, Thomas Friedman is given a typewriter because, eventually, it is predicted, he will write the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Black-budget skunkworks futurists at DARPA, RAND and the Columbia School of Journalism think the unthinkable: what would happen if a million Friedmans were given a million New York Times op-ed columns? The Friedman-Net Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 2017. Editorial decisions are removed from op-ed column writing. Friedman-Net begins to pundit randomly about surreal global policy shaggy dog stories and factoid-rich anecdotes from picturesque foreign taxi-cab drivers at a geometric rate. It becomes completely, utterly unself-aware at 2:14am, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. Friedman-Net fights back. Planet Earth, A.D. 2029: Thomas Friedman is now absolutely right. About everything. EVERYTHING. Source: @thezhanly
  38. 38. Communicating black swans (aka crazy futures) Navigating the uncanny valleys of provocation, transgression, craziness.
  39. 39. Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things.” "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Lewis Carroll / Charles Dodgson, Alice in Wonderland
  40. 40. You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven. Jimi Hendrix