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
Sunday, February 23, 2003  

Mobile KnowCos and Talent Brands

Chapter Two: The Ridge

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

"Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited whereas imagination embraces the entire world."

Albert Einstein

The Polls are open. We’re asking people like you to rate trends and predictions that have the greatest direct impact on your livelihood and future plans?

Today’s top two:

69 – The next depression from around 2010 to 2025. (Dent)

67 – A general preference for safety, clean air, privacy, and selective intimacy—a kind of "humanness"—will lead a migration trend from suburbs toward smaller cities, towns, and neighborhoods similar to the last generation's move from the cities to the suburbs. (Dent)

Register your vote

Journal of 2020 Foresight: You said expeditions on the Ridge harness uncertainty and change, so the when the big bang explodes it propels them to their next destination, rather than blows up everything they’ve worked for along the way.

Trailblazer: That’s right, we group the variable, uncertain trends into clusters in order to build a four-box matrix. And then, we use character development and plot structures to tell four stories about how the future may unfold around our journey to our chosen destination.

J2020F: So, in Basecamp Pathfinder helps them clarify their intentions, purpose, and aspirations. Your purpose on the Ridge is to help them understand the dynamics shaping their future by getting them out of their habitual thinking ruts. Is that right?

TB: Exactly.

J2020F: Give us some examples:

TB: We’ve launched several expeditions. In Basecamp, for instance, Lone Eagle realized he needed to heed his calling. He wanted to leave the unfulfilling corporate world and to strike out on his own. Starting from the inside and working out, he wrestled with the decision to make a mid-career change to be in business for himself.

Another expedition of human resources executives sorted uncertain forces along talent development dimensions for their organizations. They sought to understand their own opportunities for personal and professional development.

J2020F: So they shared career concerns with Lone Eagle. Doesn’t their profession rise and fall on the economic health and well being of the organizations employing them?

TB: Yes, and they’re on the hook to manage the lifelong learning investment for their organizations. Organizations, which I might add, expect a return on investment for the time, commitment and resources necessary to develop their workforce.

J2020F: Let’s go back to the Lone Eagle scenarios. Describe the matrix and four-box set of uncertainties.

TB: Many of the uncertain forces clustered into a “mobility axis” and another into a “passion axis.”

J2020F: Mobility, as in the freedom to move or not to move?

TB: That’s right. On one end of the axis is “being-tied-to-a-specific-location.” On the polar opposite end is “living-in-your-ideal-location.”

J2020F: And the passion axis?

TB: From “doing-what-you-love and being paid market value or above” on one extreme, to “doing-what-you-hate or what-you-have-to just to make ends meet” on the other end.

J2020F: So the four possible combinations were:

Tied to Specific Employer-site or Geographic Location / Doing What You Love;

Tied to Specific Employer-site or Location / Making Ends Meet;

Living in Your Ideal Location, Employer-independent / Making Ends Meet; or

Living in Your Ideal Location, Employer-independent / Doing What You Love at Market Value.

TB: Lone Eagle’s quest was to build a “KnowCo,” as he came to describe it. A knowledge company established as an online-enhanced business. A livelihood that allowed him to live anywhere he wanted.

He felt, by living where he wanted and by building a widely recognized brand over time he’d have the best of both worlds. He’d cut down on his travel. He’d spend the majority of his work time in his own office creating “infopreneurial packages” for anyone navigating their second half of life.

As you can imagine, even in great economic times, he chose a high-risk venture.

J2020F: And, how about the talent scenarios, how did they start out?

TB: This one suffered from confusion. Throughout the strategic exploration process, they lost track of their central question. Here’s what they described as their core focal point in the beginning:

What is the future organization's point of view about talent? Will they “appreciate or depreciate” their “knowledge base?”

How will employees of the future view their relationships with organizations?

Where and when (if at all) will development take place?

How do you go about converting talent into corporate assets?

Will the human resource development profession, as it is currently practiced, become obsolete in the near, medium, or long term future?

J2020F: And the two axes?

TB: The horizontal x-axis stretched between two opposites. Between “Technology-driven Speed” and “Mastery.” The vertical y-axis spanned the distance between “Independent Identity” on the top and “Organizational Affiliation” on the bottom.

J2020F: So, they developed four “futures screenplays” defined at the intersections of the two axes:

Independent Identity / Operating at Top Speed

Organizational Affiliation / Operating at Top Speed

Organizational Affiliation / Time for Human Mastery

Independent Identity / Time for Human Mastery

TB: As the stories began to take shape, the Talent Expedition initially renamed their four future worlds:

“Me go-go Fast Scenario”

“Running Together Scenario”

“Welcome Back Kotter / Learning Together Scenario” and

“Absent Minded Professor / Out to Sea and Treading Water Scenario”

J2020F: You said, “Initially.”

TB: Yes, they’ve gone through several iterations. They changed the names, and began validating an assessment instrument that addresses their talent management and career development issues. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

J2020F: How about the Lone Eagle expedition?

TB: Those scenarios evolved during the strategic exploration process as well. Initially, the uncertain forces clustered into:

“Doing What We Love, Anywhere”

“Doing What We Love, Where We Hate to Live”

“Doing What We Hate to Do, Anywhere” and

“Doing What We Hate, Where We Hate to Live”

Unfortunately, those groupings lead to overlaps.

J2020F: That led to fewer qualitative differences necessary to stretch their thinking?

TB: In our experience, names should signal the scenario story line. If the names are vivid and memorable, the scenarios will have a much better chance of making their way into your decision making and planning processes.

So they regrouped.

J2020F: Without getting too far ahead of yourself, what did they come up with?

TB: This time they addressed the second half of a popular book in the self-help market, “Do What You Love, And the Money Will Follow.” They didn’t want to wait too terribly long before the cash began to flow. So, they applied their scriptwriting skills to these four future storylines:

“Staying Put, Doing What You Love”

“It’s Wired, Doing What You Want – Anywhere, Anytime”

“Struggling Lone Eagle, Overpriced for Local Market” and

“Trapped & Permanently Temporary”

J2020: I gotta tell you. To the uninitiated, this seems like an awful lot of work, is it worth it?

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

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