Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.

How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Tuesday, July 16, 2002  

Beating Back the Beast in Sea of Cubicles with a Ship's Bell

Chapter One: The Basecamp

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

"Major change minimizes our ability to dominate events. For a species whose entire existence is predicated on its ability to control its environment, the ultimate nightmare is an inability to assimilate change in a world transforming itself faster by the minute. The Beast is the fear and anxiety within us all as we encounter the significant, unanticipated changes that shatter our expectations. It is not a figment of the imagination, and it cannot be explained away as a passing phase that afflicts only a young boy or a frightened soldier. The Beast is a metaphor, but its devastation of individuals, organizations, and society is real.... Whenever people's expectations dramatically alter circumstances in ways for which they are unprepared, the Beast can flourish."

Daryl R. Connor, “Managing at the Speed of Change,” 1993

Journal of 2020 Foresight: So Lost Explorer discovered Basecamp after being laid off. From the journal entries I’ve read, it shows that event triggered a crisis, as his separation came as a complete shock to him.

Pathfinder: Yes and no. You’ll see a little bit later that he didn’t come to Basecamp right away. And he knew more than he let on. In fact, one of the patterns he discovered is when he’s not starting up something new from scratch he becomes bored easily and coasts.

J2020F: So he positioned himself to get kicked out?

PF: Probably. If you asked him that question today, he’d probably admit to it. Something common to some babyboomers, entrepreneurs, and innovators – but not for all the same reasons.

J2020F: Are you describing something to do with “the need for speed” -- our tolerance for change and ambiguity?

PF: The Chinese combine two separate symbols to express the concept of crisis. The top character represents potential danger, while the lower signals hidden opportunity. Some people anticipate better than others and thrive on the pace of change.

J2020F: How can that be? Isn’t that a paradox?

PF: We can categorize our resilience for significant change – one that surprises us, disrupts, us and smashes our expectations -- based upon our preference for either the top or bottom orientation.

J2020F: Either seeing the change crisis as a threat or an opportunity?

PF: The first feel victimized because they lack an overarching purpose for their life. So, when capsized by events, they have a difficult time reorienting themselves. What they have in common is a lower tolerance for ambiguity and an inability to manage uncertainty. In the past, change was isolated, less disruptive and slower. Unfortunately, successful practices of the past fall short of success today.

J2020F: And the other?

PF: Their response to change – the crisis – focuses on the potential advantage to be exploited, instead of a problem to be avoided. They have a strong life vision. That vision provides context and meaning. It acts as a beacon guiding them through the turmoil and adversity of change.

J2020F: How so?

PF: They see life as a shifting, interacting set of variables. The new combinations yield new opportunities – when older frames of reference are shed. They believe disruptions occur naturally. They respond by investing energy in problem solving and teamwork. Later they draw important lessons from change-related experiences that can be applied to similar situations.

J2020F: What about Lost Explorer? Which group does he fall in?

PF: Read on.

“July 9: Day three and small steps:

My wife scheduled the refinance appointment with our credit union for the next day, so before my outplacement appointment I searched for past financial papers, ran some initial spread sheet figures and spent the morning filing the last work information so I could find the key material for my resume and for interviewing.

Even before my job search I had heard about an opening from my unemployment line friend I had known from the early days in a training association that I had become president of in 1990.

Now during my outplacement appointment with another old friend from the early association days I ran into a former human resources manager who had been at my company for a few months shorter than me.

It's amazing how you can just bump into people and trip over opportunities.

Sea of Cubicles and a Ship's Bell

Out into the sea of cubicles, where I will call home, floating in and out over the next 90 days, there is an area by the career library with a ship's bell.

The ritual is when someone lands a job, they ring the bell, tell their inspirational story, and pass out donuts for all to enjoy.

The systems engineer, Ron, had been laid off from Toshiba.

He "graduated" by getting a contract, first then a full time position at Canon Information Systems.

Says he met a friend of mine, the Human Resources Manager the first day in a Japanese class he enrolled in to help him better understand working in Japanese companies.

"I called him up as part of my network, saying I had met him 2 months ago in class," Ron told us.

"Why didn't you call 2 months ago?" he said my friend replied.”

Hmm. Networking. Gotta ramp that up!

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Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.

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