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
Monday, April 21, 2003  

Disruptive Innovation, Emergent Knowledge and Just-in-time Human Capital

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

“You gotta know when to hold’em and when to fold’em.”

Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

Journal of 2020 Foresight: The HR Executives crafted four alternative futures for human resource development build on a stack of cards, right?

Trailblazer: Well. These aren’t any old cards, and they’re certainly not Tarot cards, but, yes, I guess you could say so. Before they sorted their cards into four stacks, they narrowed down the 100 cards into a more manageable list of 19:

5 – Work will return to a more customer-centric focus “(as opposed to an emphasis on functional skills), the resurgence of small, dynamic work teams, and more value placed on creative, right-brain, entrepreneurial skills.” (Dent)

25 – People working in all kinds of fields the professions, education, government, the arts - begin pushing the applications of networked computers . (Schwartz & Leyden)

26 – By about 2005, high-bandwidth connections that can easily move video have become common in developed countries, and videophones finally catch on. (Schwartz & Leyden)

30 – The basic science is now in place for five great waves of technology - personal computers, telecommunications, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and alternative energy - that could rapidly grow the economy without destroying the environment. (Schwartz & Leyden)

42 – Union membership will make up only 10% of the U.S. labor force. (Cetron)

44 – International trade cooperation will take precedent over national self-interest. (Cetron)

46 – The integration of national and international economies. (Cetron)

51 – Task-focused specialist will do the actual work. Traditional departments will assign specialists, set standards, and do training . (Cetron)

52 – Advancements will be few; opportunities will be within narrow specialties. (Cetron)

53 – Subordinates will increase from 7 to 21 for each manager . (Cetron)

54 – They'll operate with 33% of the number of managers. (Cetron)

55 – In 2010 large businesses will have less than 50% the levels of management (Cetron)

57 – 85% of workers will be working for firms Traditional departments will assign specialists, set standards, and do training people. (Cetron)

58 – Only with fewer than 200 1 person in 50 will be promoted to top management in big companies (Cetron)

60 – Self-employed people in the U.S. continue to grow at 4 times the rate of salaried workers . (Cetron)

91 – Erosion of work ethic will negatively impact future corporate performance (Cetron)

96 – Learning environment will lose its importance: Individuals will learn more on their own; Learning places will be more dispersed; and Age at what time things are learned will depend more on the individual (Cetron)

97 – Institutions will apply breakthroughs in individual cognition in new education settings (Cetron)

98 –Improvements in teaching science will revolutionize learning. (Cetron)

J2020F: So, the team sorted the 19 forces into 4 piles. What did the team do with the cards?

TB: Actually they provided the skeletal structure until each individual story began to tell itself from the eight original forces.

J2020F: How did the story begin to exert itself?

TB: The team realized their original horizontal axis defined learning time. On the left-hand extreme learners required information just-in-time as they faced a problem. On the extreme right-hand side of learning time axis, the team acknowledged that knowledge doesn’t automatically develop from data at their finger tips.

J2020F: By that you mean?

TB: In most knowledge management circles – heavily influenced by software peddlers and biased by an information technology perspective -- the mantra describes the sequence of data, information, and then knowledge.

J2020F: But, this team discovered a different knowledge dimension?

TB: Yes, one that developed from experience.

J2020F: Learning from experience?

TB: Yes, they came to see Agents as the catalysts behind disruptive innovation. As a colleague once said, Agents excel at going from 0 to 1. But, it takes somebody else to go from 1 to 1000. In our case, that someone is an Athlete.

J2020F: Between the two, the power of a new idea becomes commercialized, and the new knowledge created in the process becomes a proprietary advantage, right?

TB. Instead of knowledge management – data, information and knowledge, the sequence is knowledge creation and development.

J2020F: Is that what you meant earlier when you said the learning expedition realized what they needed, in the not too distant future, is system for stimulating, capturing, organizing, circulating, cultivating and deploying ideas?

TB: Yes. They realized that they uncovered a two-way interaction. They had been used to a training paradigm – in which an instructor conducts a class and imparts knowledge.

The just-in-time requirements frightened them initially, until they came to realize online tools, templates, and reference materials could significantly increase learning retention.

The story opened the way for a training perspective to be turned into a learning and knowledge paradigm.

J2020F: And the other way?

TB: They realized drawing best practices out of the experience of their most knowledgeable workers could be circulated informally, and later captured formally in a training program.

So, instead of an instructor, the experts and their experience is shared throughout the organization.

J2020F: And, with the right kind of network, that expert could mentor those who hadn’t quite mastered an emerging or a proven core competency.

TB: Right.

J2020F: Now, what about the Associates and the Academics?

TB: This might be hard to imagine, but just in how the four boxes are laid out, some of these scenario squares sit adjacent to each other while others sit diagonally opposed to others.

J2020F: If they’re on the same axis, they’re adjacent right? Like Agent and Athlete both share the speed axis, while Associate and Academic share the slower paced mastery matrix, right?

TB: Yes, and Agent and Academic share the same independent affiliation axis, while Athlete and Associate share the same organizational identity axis.

J2020F: But, there are other combinations worth noting?

TB: Yes, Agents vs. Associates and Athletes vs. Academics sit opposite from each other, respectively.

J2020F: In more ways than one, I’m guessing.

TB: As you will see later, when we explore each talent scenario in more detail, they share very little in common. In fact, some expedition members have come to believe that they are so opposite, that they may only form “toxic relationships.”

J2020F: They don’t share any dimension?

TB: Well, near the completion of the 3rd order implications, one team member connected each of the pairs with a dotted line – from the corner of the Agent box to the corner of the Associate box.

J2020F: And from the corner of the Athlete box to the corner of the Academic box?

TB: Yes, and what we discovered was the innovation dimension with the first pair. It stretched from disruptive innovation beginning in the Agent and continuing to sustained innovation in the Associate.

J2020F: What about the other pair?

TB: From emergent knowledge in the Athlete running to embodied knowledge crawling in the Academic.

J2020F: So what does that mean to the HR executives?

TB: It means several things. Over a lifecycle of an organization’s development one or more of these talent clusters dominate.

J2020F: By that you mean, what?

TB: Well, for instance, an Agent entrepreneur teams up with an Athlete to bring to market a brand new product or service.

As demand catches on and other products or services need to be produced at higher volumes, Associates help sustain the early innovations.

Later in a mature phase of development the professional staff, or Academics, come on board to manage the more complex, specialized systems.

J2020F: By that time, my experience has been, the original Agents and some of the Athletes leave for greener pastures.

TB: On the backside of the “bell shaped curve of organizational life” the organization needs the Agents and Athletes to re-invent themselves out of a severe decline.

But the organization typically has become so ossified trapped by its successful processes and procedures that it doesn’t realize their customer base has moved on, or they’ve hit 99.9% market saturation, until it is too late.

J2020F: I can see that the laid-off Associates feel traumatized because they identified so loyally with the parent company.

TB: And, Academics, the professional disciplines, lack the vision and faith an Agent brings to the party. But, because their identity remains with their profession, they experience less trauma moving to another organization than the Associates. But, we’ll focus next on the Agent scenario.

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

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