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 30, 2002  

Winning by Creating Better Opportunities for those Who Follow

Chapter One: 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

“The Generation Wave shows how a generation affects the economy in all its aspects as it ages. Every generation progresses through a predictable cycle. As it grows up, it spawns innovations in new technologies and social values. Then, as it moves into adulthood, it uses its earning and spending power to adopt these innovations, creating a boom cycle in the economy. Finally, as the generation enters its maturing years, it controls investments and corporate and political power, which it uses to change organizations and institutions. The baby boom generation was born as a wave peaking between 1957 and 1961. The next wave shows the generation coming of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s, innovating and embracing new social values and critical new technologies such as microcomputers, which were then in their entrepreneurial stage.”

Harry S. Dent Jr. “The Great Boom Ahead”

According to Pathfinder, everyone attending Basecamp, whether as individuals, teams, leaders or as organizational representatives, is here to make the best decisions possible in uncertain, confusing times.

They’ve all recognized that the rules have changed. It ‘s no longer enough to simply execute – to do things right.

One of the last challenges for Lost Explorer in Basecamp is to examine his vague, ideal future in terms of his past patterns and habits. Some have prepared him for success. Others left unexamined threaten the results of his path forward.

To get a better understanding, I interviewed Pathfinder again.

The Journal of 2020 Foresight: Here we are in Basecamp. You list 19 learning expeditions and communities ranging in membership from 4 to 700.

And today you told the newly forming expedition that you are aggregating lessons learned, new discoveries and emerging best practices from over 4015 on-line community members.

How did it all start? What past pattern influenced your current work?

Pathfinder: The original learning expedition began by accident. I met Lost Explorer, Lone Eagle, and Trailblazer at a Dana Point Harbor sailboat mixer in California. We had some time off from our “Bootcamp for Babyboomers” seminar.

J2020F: Babyboomer bootcamp?

PF: Sure. Periodically, we bring together thought leaders, change agents, and innovative people from all walks of life – the so-called “creative minority” – to generate “100 Predictions.”

In this case we focused on the baby boom generation – as an example of what biologists call the “dominant--year class" a cyclical bulge in the population of a species of animals.

Such a group has a disproportionate effect on resources, and thus on the lives of all fellow creatures in front of them and all those behind.

J2020F: For example?

PF: We broke our boomer predictions into family; living the “Good Life” in retirement; their children; aging boomer babies; the world of work; boomer health concerns; finances and the role of money; the boomer homestead; earnings and investments; what boomers believe; and boomer consumers and their impact on business.

J2020F: I see. So the four of you set sail from the place where early trappers threw hides over the cliffs down to the tall ships anchored in the harbor?

PF: Yes. And, the great thing about the sailboats we used is you don’t have a lot of room to roam around. You are pretty much forced into close proximity conversations.

Mind you, we set sail at dusk. There’s something wonderful about the ocean.

The up-and-down motion.

The side-to-side motion.

The vagaries of the wind and the tacking back and forth.

To make any kind of progress, you have to focus on the matter at hand, and balance in three dimensions.

J2020F: I take it you found something in common.

PF: The sea works its own magic on conversation. It didn’t take long before we found a common passion – the challenge of building change-worthy organizations and individuals.

J2020F: Whoa. Wait a minute. What do you mean?

PF: Well, you’ve been introduced to the first part of Lost Explorer’s journey through his journal.

He described his life trajectory. We found common themes we all shared: children, an orientation to people, media and technology.

Also, life-long learning and balancing on the three legged stool of chaos, innovation and collaboration.

J2020F: And you had that in common?

PF: In a way. I had children. I also had been troubled by the fact that the so-called career experts were experts academically. They hadn’t actually changed careers themselves. I had.

During my first career as a clinical researcher I pursued split brain (left-brain and right-brain) research and dabbled with media and technology.

My challenge was to find a way of stimulating both the receptive and expressive communications abilities of developmentally delayed children and adolescents.

We hoped media tools might help.

And technology might prove to stimulate under developed portions of the brain.

My bridge into the corporate world was constructed through a series of positions identified by career research and from my love of applying a model or theory to new challenges.

My own transferable skills reconfigured into four options:

Marketing Research,

Organizational Development,

Career Development, and

Management Training.

J2020F: What about chaos, innovation and collaboration?

PF: Change-worthiness. For three years I conducted an internally-run outplacement service for thousands of engineers and project managers. While they went out the door, we also launched quality initiatives to re-engage the survivors.

J2020F: So you adapted to recession-driven changes?

PF: I learned first-hand the messiness of cultural changes in a communication- limited environment. We cut back on our offerings of traditional management development training and took on a more consultative role.

J2020F: And the impact of technology on innovation? Or visa versa?

PF: Based on my corporate experience my research pursued answers to the following questions:

1) Why did technology solutions cause unintended consequences;

2) Which factors prevented or eliminated the risks of new technology implementations;

3) How do changing technological, social, political, and economic discontinuities impact the success of a business, and

4) How do you harness the potential integration of media, technology and people to better learn, innovate, collaborate, and communicate?

J2020F: Give us an example.

PF: Well, as a result of initiating a joint study with a local University I also discovered how the introduction of new technologies – usually with the goal of quickly improving productivity by lowering costs -- is really a catalyst for more change -- and, as was in this corporation’s case:

1) Triggered stress disability claims;

2) Reversed traditional roles, and

3) Led to a 25% drop in productivity.

J2020F: With Lost Explorer, you had what in common?

PF: Wherever possible he navigated towards convergence -- opportunities in which two or more disciplines became a new hybrid field. All of us had been fascinated with Alvin Toffler's theories and particularly with the similarities to Marshall McLuhan's premise, especially how:

Technologies accelerate the pace, scale, and patterns of change.

Each successive media enhances a physiological response.

Each creates a new imbalance.

Early applications of a new media or technology incorrectly attempt to automate something already in place instead of understanding that the real value lies in finding out what you can do now, that could not be done before.

J2020F: Now what about the others? Trailblazer?

PF: Waves of uncertainty hit TB’s organization during its merger with its high tech competitor. So, he taught an opportunity development workshop as a career program, and taught strategic planning principles for career planning.

In those heady days he helped intrapreneurs anticipate new projects and products by focusing on the needs of his company's customer's customers.

Together with their video production group, he collaborated on ways communications could demonstrate and reinforce the new ways of doing business.

He changed the culture from a traditional bureaucratic structure to a faster, smarter, more innovative organization.

J2020F: How?

PF: Because, they were driven to anticipate, innovate and excel, he also began looking for other channels to deliver learning on demand, and to make sure what was learned off site or in a classroom was transferred back to the work area by using the:

Natural environment,



Computers, and

Video equipment

J2020F: So the sailboat, the natural environment, and the technology applications – all tools Trailblazer pioneered? He was quite at home on that sailboat, right?

PF: Not only that, he was the one who insisted on changing our real identities to nicknames. Something he learned from his organizational development experience in a high tech environment.

He learned how to accelerate learning to roughly half the time and then periodically reinforce decisions, strategies, and plans in an integrated communications plan.

J2020F: From traditional classroom to media and technology channels, if I follow you.

PF: Yes, his was the challenge of stimulating creativity and out-of-the-box thinking among engineers and overly analytical clients.

It led him to experiment with software such as IdeaFisher and Inspiration while tracking the development of groupware.

J2020F: Why?

PF: The relentless drive for shorter product cycles and time-to-market made him realize that being in a classroom for a week, or even three days, was fast coming to an end.

Who could afford the time? Only to forget 89% immediately.

J2020F: And what about Lone Eagle?

PF: Like Trailblazer he consulted with product development, marketing, and R&D professionals.

At a multimedia projector company, he launched a rapid product development initiative and began a skunk works effort --a learning laboratory -- for re-defining the presentation platform for PCs.

J2020F: By that you mean?

PF: As a projector-based network of meeting room tools – bringing practical models and templates normally restricted to a classroom and a binder into a

Scenario planning,


Process, or

Problem solving meeting.

They reversed the prevalent presentation paradigm using the multimedia display and a digital camera for capture of the meeting outcomes, drawings, and decisions.

For the first time, work groups had the power of the internet, intranet, groupware, and PCs at their fingertips.

J2020F: The outcome was what? Shortened cycle times?

PF: Yes. And a practical means of increasing “Organizational IQ” with a “Knowledge-based Learning Network.”

J2020F: So called e-learning applications?

PF: His market research into the education and corporate niches of early adopters targeted knowledge management and organizational learning organizations.

He also realized he wanted to implement and apply the tools, rather than to only consult to the current company’s sales and marketing organization.

J2020F: What happened as a result?

PF: He was recruited to an electronics distribution company to implement distance learning and a strategic employee communications network.

J2020F: Why did the company need his expertise?

PF: The distribution industry had been transforming itself from a transaction-only sales to a more consultative, "value-adding proposition" driven by customer demands.

Since their customers were becoming more demanding and competition more intense, they needed a way for everyone to find which solutions have already worked for a customer in a similar situation, as quickly as possible.

They needed to transfer knowledge of what worked in one part of the corporation to another, instead of reinventing the wheel.

J2020F: So in terms of collaboration, innovation, and chaos?

PF: His challenge was to create a "Communications Central" resource --video, print, and intranet-based employee communications to:

Synchronize marketing and advertising campaigns to their customers with

Internal information-needs and

Share those best practices throughout the corporation.

J2020F: So there you all were. On a sailboat exchanging experiences and insights?

PF: Suddenly the wind stopped. The ocean calmed around us momentarily – the surface turned smooth as glass.

Simultaneously, we reached some sort of synchronicity state.

That moment when every thing happens in slow motion.

We finished each other’s sentences.

Ideas burst out of us like popcorn.

We collectively saw the future and a way to achieve what we all wanted individually, but in a way that would benefit all of us working together.

J2020F: The genesis of beginning when no goal is given; finding a purpose for your own journey; and setting a course that also serves the team?

PF: And, finding a way to win by creating better opportunities for those who follow.

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

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