Hive Minds: Time to drop the fiction of individuality

For instance, in one experiment aimed at promoting more healthy behaviour we compared the strategy of giving participants cash when they improved their behaviour to the strategy of giving cash to the participants' buddies. We found giving buddies the reward was more than four times as effective as giving rewards directly to the participants. Similar social network incentives have yielded even more dramatic results when used to encourage energy savings and voting.

As a teacher in training during the 60's neither the quote at the top or most of the bullet points below were ever mentioned.  I learned that individuals were competitive, not cooperative and that mostly education was a remote, mechanistic necessary happening.  Feelings, empathy, sharing, and co-operation were things to be pounded into young minds. There was also a lot of competitive "dog eat dog" thinking. Teachers' search images were tuned to see this very limited understanding of human nature and young minds. 

Today, thank goodness, we are learning how naive we were in our understanding of human nature and young minds at play and work.  In my own teaching when I was at my best, I learned through observation how often children proved these limited theories wrong. When I changed my expectations, and expected different behaviour, I learned how easy it was to inspire and challenge them. They naturally fell into working together, learning together. 

  • Learning is a lifelong experience that begins at birth and never ends.
  • There is a direct relationship between self image and learning.
  • Environments affect learning. Learning is optimized in creative, trusting environments that provide experience, exploration, risk-taking, and mastery.
  • Learning is an interdependent process involving cooperation and collaboration.
  • Learning involves the engagement of body, mind and spirit.
  • An individual's potential for learning is unknown; without high expectations this potential may never be realized. People excel when they experience high expectations and appropriate challenge.
  • Peak performance is driven by vision and a hunger for a "preferred" state.
  • Learning is a multi-modal, multi-sensory, multi-intelligences experience.
  • Each individual is responsible for his/her learning and for contributing to the learning of others.
  • Education is not the same thing as training. To educate means "to lead forward" and thus to guide an open-ended process, characterized by self-conscious and discretionary activity. To train means "to draw or drag behind" and refers to a closed process of making things habitual or automatic. Learning requires both education and training.
  • Learning happens at different rates for each individual; it can be facilitated but not forced, as it occurs when the individual is ready.
  • Learning is best achieved by defining the learning process as a system and continually taking action to optimize the performance of that system.
  • By establishing a system which both exemplifies and expects responsibility from each individual, and which embeds life-long learning into every segment of society, full and healthy employment will result.
From our Redesigning the Future Proposal, 1972

I can remember, in 1980, doing an early version of our Backcasting module. We asked people to find a "write-on panel" and answer questions about how they solved a problem.  About 15 minutes into the exercise, one of the male participants started crying. He was standing at the wall, with one hand behind his back as he had been taught to do in school, writing and drawing away with tears in his eyes. He said to me, "I only remember the black board (now a white wall) as punishment where we had to go before everyone and be right in our answer.  Here I am pouring forth all kinds of ideas and I will be rewarded for them!".  As adults, we need processes and environments that helps us re-member our natural tendencies to play, and work with each to make better worlds.

I use this list as a barometer and I check it all the time.  How am I facilitating what it really means to be human? And how do we as transition managers help minds of all ages step into their potential?

Enjoy these links. They challenge me to consider new possibilities and let go of old assumptions.


Coming to Knowing Group Genius

"In excited conversations we have glimpses of the universe, hints of power native to the soul, far-darting lights and shadows of an Andes landscape, such as we can hardly attain in lone meditation.  Here are oracles sometimes profusely given, to which the memory goes back in barren hours."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was during my second year of teaching 2nd graders in a public school that I first connected with the concept of group genius. I had 22 students and each of them had chosen a subject that they were curious to study and then share their learning with the rest of the class. This was 1965 so there was no Internet and the research was difficult. They had two weeks to prepare.  The only question I can remember with clarity was "Why do soap bubbles have colors?" Many of the questions like this one, were questions that I could not answer without doing my own research. 

Report day arrived and the air was full of excitement. This was work they had done on their own with little support from me. The subjects had only one thing in common, each was personally chosen by the presenter.  The room was set up as theater, honoring whoever was on stage. Each had his own way of presenting their findings.  And then it happened, the entire energy in the room changed. It was charged with excitement and anticipation. My 22 students and myself became one. Something emerged in those few hours that was indescribable but we all felt it and bathed in it.   Despite my degree in education I must admit, I had never really thought about the brain before. I had not really thought about what was going on in the heads of my students, or my own head for that matter. I had no words or explanation for what I had just witnessed - what had turned the room electric -  but I had a deep knowing that something remarkable had happened.

A few years later I came across the notebooks of Lawrence Halprin and saw the words "Group genius" written in a margin. That's it! This is what was happening in my class room! I did not know the science behind the concept of group genius. Words like "emergence",  "self-organizing systems', "complexity" were not used in lay terms in the 60's. But here was Halprintalking about project-based learning with the community. People were learning through doing. That's what I was doing as teacher and facilitator. This is when I noted that when people of all ages designed together ... produced something of value together ... group genius was a likely outcome.

I set my mind on discovering what I could about group genius. Why does it happen? What are the forces that cause a working group to go into a higher order?  Both The Learning Exchange and MG Taylor were partially formed to create a laboratory, a method and a practice where Group Genius was likely to happen, not just with kids, but all ages and cultures.  I went deeper into complexity science, self-organizng systems and project based learning.  I discovered Kevin Kelly's brilliant book, Out of Control, and read the chapter on Assembling Complexity over and over.  I came to a deeper understanding of complexity, emergence, and simple rules for creating healthy self organizing systems through the writings of Steven Johnson,  Fritjof Capra, Stewart Kauffman and Meg Wheatley. Neuroscience has been one of my more focused studies.

My classroom experience was nearly 50 years ago and over this time span I have seen many, many groups escape into the Group Genius mode. I know now with some certainty how to cause it, not control it, but give it freedom to occur. Now finally, through Stanislas Dehance's book, Consciousness and the Brain: deciphering how the brain codes our thoughts, I am understanding what happens in the brain. Dehance is quite metaphoric and yet very specific and detailed in his writing.  The book is on the individual brain but in his description of how the brain creates a work space to assemble complexity.  I can see the very same thing happening with individual brains when they become group genius.  All the individual brains go into the same assemblage causing group genius.  It is a recursive model! Very exciting because now I can do more than feel it, design for it, take part in it ... I can also understand it! As far as I know there is no formal research being done on group genius. Perhaps this will be coming forth soon. I'd love to know more if anyone knows of this kind of particular research happening.  The MG Taylor method and process can provide real time evidence!

The brain builds itself by laying down large synaptic highways, which become the scaffold of communication corridors from which secondary and tertiary corridors emerge, until a vast “hairnet of axons” covers the brain. Once this hairnet is in place then we have a brain that is able to self-organize an infinite number of connections, thoughts, ideas, innovations and learnings while at the same time behave and direct behavior in dependable, learned ways.

— Marilyn Hamilton, “The Art and Science of Meshworking” from Integral City

What Is Design? Unlocking The Genius Within

Todd was recently interviewed by columnist Victor Hwang, an venture capitalist and entreprenuer based in Silicon Valley. This interview originally appeared in on February 11, 2014. Posted here with permission from the author.


Todd Johnston was a designer before designing was cool.  For decades, he and his colleagues have practiced design to accelerate innovation for corporations and countries.  His team designs the collaborative sessions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where they are often tasked to help leaders tackle the biggest challenges. Next week, Todd makes his debut as the Head of Design for our Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley.

We set a simple challenge for ourselves: if we believe that innovative ecosystems can be designed across entire countries, then surely we can create an ecosystem in a single conference.  Therefore, working with Todd, we have turned the conference into a giant design laboratory.  Instead of listening to one-way lectures, our participants will be working in small startup-like teams to tackle real problems in real time.  Instead of talking in abstraction, our participants will be building tangible, 3D prototype solutions to tackle systemic challenges.

I wanted to share some of Todd’s insights on design with you, as they are particularly interesting and relevant to anyone trying to accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic value creation.

photo by Chris Nohr,
Victor Hwang:
  What does design mean to you?

Todd Johnston:  The first definition I remember learning for design was “to mark out,” which comes from the Latin form of the word (dēsignāre). The simplicity of this definition speaks to me and does as good a job as any definition in getting to the heart of the matter. To design is to mark out a pattern as a means of making meaning of an experience. A design marks out a vision for what can be; the act of designing is to move with intent to close the gap between existing conditions and that vision.

Hwang:  How do you practice design?

Johnston:  Design as I have practiced it has always been prefixed with “co-“, meaning together, mutually with others. When done well, collaboration unleashes collective intelligence and channels that intelligence into the design process to produce dramatically better results. Co-design recognizes that everyone has expertise to offer, and that there are no experts in the fields of the unknown and undiscovered. The complex problems we face today call for all kinds of intelligences, voices and vantage points.

Hwang:  Why has design become so important today?

Johnston:  Design is a hands-on endeavor of the mind, body and soul. It is both playful and thoughtful, and can be highly liberating. Worthy design is immensely challenging. Rarely are boundaries or solutions clear or easy to come by. This is a great time to be a designer, as I believe we are living in a time when a fundamentally new paradigm, or way of understanding and interacting with the world, is being formed and coming into being.  What better reward could a designer ask for than to help give shape to this?

Hwang:  You talk about how the knowledge economy has transitioned into the creative economy.  What does that mean?

Johnston:  Let me first say what I’m not saying. I am not saying that the knowledge economy is going away, or that knowledge is becoming a less relevant source of what shapes our collective worldview. Over the last quarter century, there have been a number of overlapping descriptors of the social, economic and technological paradigms in which we live. It is largely accepted that what was known as the industrial economy is no longer dominant, and has been replaced by the knowledge economy and network economy as more accurate descriptors of what shapes the marketplace. Part of what is driving this transition is that knowledge is becoming easier and less expensive to store, share, transfer and replicate.

Hwang: What is the result of that transition?

Johnston:  The ability to creatively combine and apply various bodies of knowledge in new and more powerful ways is becoming of great and greater significance. In other words, it is not just about knowledge, but what you do with it. Steve Denning, who has been writing about the creative economy for several years, characterizes it as  “an economy in which the driving force is innovation… in which organizations are nimble and agile and continually offering new value to customers and delivering it sooner.” Building on this, I’d argue that networks are in many instances replacing organizations as the primary mechanisms for combining disparate bodies of knowledge in innovative ways, and are typically more likely to be nimble and agile.  Thus, the creative economy is the name I give to what is emerging from the combination of the knowledge economy in the networked age.

Hwang: How do you describe the philosophy behind your work?

Johnston:  From a practical point of view, the power really comes from its recognition that design, creativity, collaboration, modeling, meaning making, problem solving … all of these things are inherently part of who we are as human beings.  There is a quote attributed to Bucky Fuller that goes something like “All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently de-geniusized by grownups.”


Genius at work?

Well, maybe one way of looking at the MG Taylor philosophy [in which I was trained] is the process of re-geniusizing people to their fully human selves.  How?  By doing.  By bringing people into the hands-on experience, as a community, designing their future together. From the get go, the Taylors recognized the value of any concept, theory or idea, was in what it enabled you to do.

Hwang:  What lessons have you learned from you work at the World Economic Forum in Davos?

Johnston:  First, dealing with the constraint of incredibly short sessions. …  I’m talking about true, experientially rich, participatory design sessions, in which we are asked to take on a subject or theme complex in nature and provide a platform for 40 – 60 participants to move through several iterations of the creative process in order to make significant, meaningful progress on an issue with global impact. Intellectual property, transatlantic relations, gender equality, climate change, access to water, responsible wealth, and so on….

Secondly, with the World Economic Forum, the teams and programs I’ve been a part of are just a small fraction of the overall system and community that is brought together. …  So, what we, as a small team of facilitators have learned and are continuing to learn, is how and where we can make a difference to the system. Where are the critical leverage points we can leverage for greater impact? How do we make the work visible beyond just those that participate in a session? What can we do to facilitate connections between individuals and parts of the system that may not otherwise be made?

Hwang:  How will your participation at the Global Innovation Summit be similar or different from Davos?

Johnston:  I am very much focused on what we can do to facilitate participants having an integrated, progressive experience. What I mean by this is that I want participants to both get great value from each individual aspect of the program but also for them to make sense of the whole and leaves them feeling as though they have contributed to and accomplished something meaningful collectively.

The key difference, and challenge that we’ll have to meet, is in my work with the World Economic Forum, we have fairly robust facilitation teams and overall smaller groups of people that we’re working with at any given time. So, [the large size of the Summit] will undoubtedly stretch my thinking and my skills to a place they haven’t been before. And that is one of the things that is most attractive to me. New ground. New challenges. Bring it on!

Todd Johnston is Director, Process Design & Facilitation with Tomorrow Makers and a Founding Member of The Value Web. He is Head of Design for the Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley.

Victor W. Hwang is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.  He is Executive Director of Global Innovation Summit + Week (February 17-21, 2014), an event focused on catalyzing systemic innovation across companies, communities, and countries. 

Nelson Mandela and the Adjacent Possible

"The impossible has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks."
Douglas Adams,  The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

I consider Nelson Mandela to be a miracle for our time and age.  He was a true gift, gifting us in ways  impossible to foresee. His deeds and words will live on throughout all time and space.

I have been researching and writing about the adjacent possible for sometime now. The life story of Mandela has been unfolding via the news over the last few days.  I am amazed with how many adjacent possible opportunities he took and used to further not only his options but widened the options of behavior and philosophy for all humans.  It seems to me that Mandela had a small number of non-negotiable values which he held true to during his entire life.  They were about fairness and opportunity for all. 

By holding true to these values, he seemed to have had an innate knowledge of when and how to take his next step in his long journey. He walked the fine edge between chaos and death and peace and justice as a way of life.  He knew which doors to crack open and when. He invited others into these adjacent possible spaces and together they opened more possibles.  Over the years, he widened his opportunities for freedom as he did for all of humanity. 

Today, even with his passing, his beliefs and how he lived his beliefs will continue to open new doors to discover new adjacent possibilities to all of us who pay attention to his words and actions.  Mandela seemed never to take the simple way of compromise but always to find the practical way to inch freedom forward.  In his actions, he realized what was impossible to most people. Encouraged by many to compromise, telling him that his undying hope was improbable and useless, he stood his ground and moved forward one adjacent possible at a time creating a higher order solution... a more fit world. 

Each link  shows a different aspect of the adjacent possible.  For those of us with hope in our eyes and hearths, may we come to know as Mandela did the adjacent doors to open as we move forward on this great journey. 

Life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward. S. Kierkegaard

Assembling Complexity: When the community practically falls together

"Evolution not only evolves the functioning community, but it also finely tunes the assembly process of the gathering until the community practically falls together." Kevin Kelly, Chapter 4, Assembling Complexity"

Those that know me know I return to this chapter over and over, always finding new insights and value.  I was thinking about naming this journal page "When it is time to railroad, people start railroading." a quote by Robert Heinlein...another way of saying everyone jumps on the bandwagon. And then Todd suggested I think about nature and ecosystems, rather than modeling a mechanical mindset of a fading paradigm.

Today, re-reading Assembling Complexity re-minded me of how nature learns and scales into patterns of renewal and growth. "Nature learns from the ground up and in a somewhat random order."  The chapter takes on new meaning every time I read it.  Today, I think I am coming to knowing my work and vision.  With foresight I only had words ... in hindsight, I have experience and realization. 

More than 30 years ago, Matt and I created a process and method that has come to be called the MG Taylor body of knowledge.  At the time we thought we were creating something that would catch on quickly and provide a new way of working.  We thought that terms like anticipatory, collaborate, design, paradigm shift, requisite variety, and group genius were self-explanatory and would be welcomed into work places of all kinds.  We assumed our modeling language would find its way into the culture and new "words" and models would be added to create a way of thinking and doing. 

Today, in hindsight we are coming to knowing the complex systems in which new ideas ... new paradigms... are forged and become reality.  The methods and processes we developed so long ago have traveled a winding, curious course of evolution. There have been a number of emergent phenomenon providing new ways of seeing and understanding what we set out to do so many years ago.  We are no longer alone in our desires to create healthy new ways of working. Now the field of consultants, academy course offerings, and corporate experiments are employing terms like anticipatory, design, paradigm shift, requisite variety, and group genius in a ubiquitous manner. Complexity theory and all the concepts embedded within it are coming full cycle. I think a tipping point has been reached ... not in five years as we thought, but in thirty years of phase transitions of two kinds. One in the slow decay of the existing paradigm where each year we lose more and more faith in our existing organizations, and institutions until there is little faith that there is anything worth holding onto. The other is the creative aspect of renewal and better ways of working and creating support structures, especially designed for the 21st century and all of its potential for a better world. Our work has been at the core of this.  I can see it emanating from so many newly forming ways of working. I feel that all of who formed the core team and set forth to do the work in the late 70's and 80's should feel that we laid the path, set the course. 

Now as this organic "falling together" takes place, I cannot help but ask myself what next? I feel that we are at the beginning of a new challenge and vision... new phase transitions, new journeys and explorations into an unknown next cycle.  We are not alone this time; it will be a bigger group, a newly informed group of us using 21st century tools and experiences. 

Tomorrow Makers has a particular desire to help this larger group form, learn from each other, and create a deeply embedded understanding of the opportunities and challenges to take leadership to a new understanding, a new way of crafting and designing and acting.  Together we can identify and create a new fitness level... a higher order.

Stuart Kauffman tells us that the "algorithm is incompressible." In other words, one must make something before one comes to know it and understand the phases and transitions that occur invisibly and naturally. Indeed, there are no shortcuts to a higher order, but we think we can help the movement move forward with more vitality and understanding. We can help take the waste out of the system.


Turning Worthy Problems Into Worthy Solutions

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Former US Supreme Court Justice

I've had a number of people ask me about this quote.  "What on earth does it mean?" asked one?  Most of us are not used to working with complexity.  We live within it; we name it; we love it or hate it... but actually trying to find our way through it...from one end to the other side is difficult. It's more than a maze because most mazes have walls and narrow runways.  Complexity really is far more ambiguous and un-bordered and unbounded and ideas and parts keep running into each other, getting tangled, seemingly unmanageable.

The creative process demands all the ups and downs of mood swings; a willingness to get lost and stay lost, without undo stress until, within a flash, a hole opens up and provides a new or different way of seeing and sensing... a coming to knowing differently. Suddenly there it is in plain sight! A new and interesting way forward. 

In March, with Matt and a great KreW, we co-designed and facilitated the launching of what I consider to be a worthy problem: How do we cure brain cancer within ten years?  Currently the thinking is it will take 50 years and 50 billion dollars.  However, Cure For Life Foundation, of Australia rejected that assumption and began pulling together resources to drastically cut the time and cost.  The CFL Foundation realized that the goal could only be reached by group sourcing... gathering brilliant minds together from many fields, and ways of thinking.  The DesignShop process was determined to be the best way forward and the project was given the name Global Brain Exchange. 

DesignShop #1, in Sydney, brought together 40 participants for two days.  The challenge: Create the path forward enabling brilliant minds from five continents to uncover the processes, technologies, and paradigm shifts that would make the goal accessible and acceptable.  One of the outcomes was to "inform future work and influence the future direction of The Global Brain Exchange".  In deed, together we got that outcome and found the next step forward.  We learned enough, pulled and tugged at ideas, followed threads of possibility and in the end, have next steps forward. 

By the end of the two days, participants had ceased speaking of worthy problems and started identifying worthy solutions! As participants and facilitators we moved through the ups and downs, the knowns and unknowns, the breaking of our own assumptions about an idea or or way of thinking. There is no better high for me than taking part in the unfolding of Group Genius. 

Recently I watched the documentary, Connected, by Tiffany Shlain. I learned about the hormone, Oxytocin that is released when people connect.  Oxytocin, according to Paul Zak, is responsible for trust, empathy, and other feelings that help build a stable society.

DesignShop #2 will be held in the Nashville, USA sometime this fall.  It will incorporate the learnings from the first and continue creating the GBX ecosystem. Together, we will find the funding, create the next set of questions to ask and work our way through more ambiguity. We are still on this side of complexity but confident that the other side will be reached without compromise. As Margaret Wheatley said in her book, Leadership and the New Science, 1993:Reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity. And it is constantly new. We are required to be there, as active participants. It can’t happen without us and nobody can do it for us.

The past lies in wait

The future is rational
only in hindsight. -mg taylor axiom

At long last, backcasting is becoming a common concept and a mainstream practice among the service design ecosystem as well as communities and organizations actively engaged in designing their future.

When I read this passage from the absurdly great Italo Calvino, I am reminded of a correlary axiom to "the future is rational only in hindsight": history lies in wait for us only in the future. In other words, what we do in the future will go a long way towards making sense and meaning of what has happened up to this point. Of course, Calvino embues it with poetry in how he phrases it:

"The more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there... What he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past, it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey.
The foreigness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossed places."  - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities


A Singularity in Our Future

The technological singularity is the theoretical emergence of greater-than-human superintelligence through technological means.[1] Since the capabilities of such intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as an intellectual event horizon, beyond which events cannot be predicted or understood.

Proponents of the singularity typically state that an "intelligence explosion", where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent's cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.

I've been following the Singularity Movement through Kurzweil's blog for years. It has been facinating and curious to me.  Much of what I read and hear seemed too complex for me to understand but I knew I could pick up the developing patterns. 

So this past weekend I attended the Singularity Summit in San Francisco to come face-to-face with the thinkers and makers of the movement.  I was curious to think about my own role in the coming years as the possibility of the Singularity unfolds and embeds itself in key decisions of governmental and corporate policies, strategies, as well as the everyday behavior of "we, the people."

I was attracted by the words for the Summit --

The Singularity is an event that could transform the world to its foundations in a way only comparable to the emergence of life itself. As converging technologies lead us towards the Singularity, we must ask ourselves: what is our own responsibility to ensure these technologies are used wisely and benefit everyone? We hope that the discussions here help you find your own answer to that question.

So having attended, what is my answer? I sat and listened with about 300 others to the 20 speakers. I was definitely one of the oldest people attending.  I met professors in philosophy, AI, humanities, linguistics, biology and computer science, all there to listen, to absorb, and to further their own thinking. But it was the youth I was most excited by.  There were a handful in their teens, but most seemed to be younger than 35, many in their early 20s.  My friend, Sharon, who attended with me, and I were freely invited into small conversations with these young minds. They were open in their enthusiasm, visionary in their vision to improve the state of the world, and passionate in their explorations and doing-ness.  Many participate, as fellows or staff or students, in Singularity University programs which has the express purpose of graduating students who will go forth and bring solutions to a billion people!!! So I asked them if this was an impossible goal and their answer was a universal, "No, we're on it" as if it was the most natural thing in the world. 

I felt significant changes in my beingness as I listened and conversed. I seem to lose my place, the me I felt I knew. Many of my talents and ways of thinking about myself seemed to become inconsequencial. At times I recalled the feeling of being in an isolation tank ... floating, drifting in and out of reality.  I found myself asking myself, "Who and what am I"?  For the first time, I saw myself within the Singularity movement, not standing outside.

When one of the speakers announced that there was a Singuarity volunteers web site, I immediately went to  and realized that I had no expertise for any of the volunteer jobs but one.  I could spread the word in a responsible manner.  My friend, Christine Peterson, from the Foresight Institute reminded us all that the Singularity movement is not foriegn to govenments or corporations. It is being actively explored by those with money and power.  Our work as ordinary citizens then is to step up and learn as much as we can, to inform ourselves and to take part in shaping the Singularity movement into technologies and thought processes...into art and science... that are used wisely and benefit everyone. 

Traditionally, we have let the governments and corporations do the work for us and look at the mess we are in! Now it is our turn.  So as I play with the essence of the Singularity movement, what can I grok? What matters that I can do? Our future is not without risk but I don't think it is useful to spend my energies being fearful or fighting the movement forward. That is not me. I sense that Singularity plays some part in our emerging paradigm. Singularity is part of the core seeds we are sowing now that will play out well into a future of some sort.  I plan to advocate that the best aspects of our humanity join with the movement and insure we have a collective, active partnership with technology moving forward.  In some ways, I think this is nature's most elequant and challenging design evolution.  Should she succeed, perhaps we will come to know ourselves for the first time. 

Syntopical Reading

"Don't go looking for ideas directly. Instead, go in search of the seeds of ideas: the elements from which ideas can grow."  The Universal Traveler, 1972

When we first started our work with corporations, the executive teams consistently told us "As executives, we don't have time to read, and our employees don't read."  No time for reading? No interest in reading? With a world going through tremendous changes, how was it possible to discount the essential importance of reading widely and often?

Matt was teaching a course called "Redesigning the Future" and he handed out a reading list of 500 books, necessary for understanding the complexities of the world.  The authors Matt called on were not those on the NY Times best seller list.  Rather, they were selections that reached way back in time, and also took the reader's imagination into the future. They were fundamental to understanding the new emerging sciences and world cultures to seeking out new patterns and possibilities.

To us, reading was an essential aspect of a new way of working.  We drew on Mortimer Adler's book, How to Read a Book to help us design a useful module to help participants work their way into reading.  In particular, we were interested in his Syntopical Reading section. While Adler was mostly focusing on an individual doing syntopical reading, we knew we wanted to make it a group exercise. 

Then we watched the power of this module come to life.  We adapted it for many occasions and several times our Syntopical Reading exercise transformed an organization.  The power and purpose for reading has slowly found its way back into many organizational worlds. 

Here are general instructions:

1) Provide each participant with some simple suggestions for how to read a book in an hour.  (adapted from Adler's body of knowledge)

2) Ask participants to choose a book that they want to read from the library. Suggest that they can read any book that looks interesting and to not to choose books too closely related to their field or product lines.

3) After reading, have the participants divide into groups of 7 or 8 and have them form a circle. 

4) Now, ask each participant to become the author of their book.  Each in turn states their name as author and tells us the name of the book they wrote, why they were compelled to write the book, and as author, what did they want to suggest to the organization... ideas that could make a significant difference.  Each author had five minutes to create their story. 

Be sure each participant assumes the role of author rather than talking about the book they read.  With this kind of story telling, the ideas expand, and often hidden design assumptions reveal themselves.  For instance during the second day of an event we asked cosmetic company participants to choose books for overnight reading.  Participants wandered through the library choosing good night reads.  One chose When Elephants Weep. Little did we know he was head of research for the company. As he assumed the role of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, the author, he put his whole heart and mind into telling his organization why they should immediately stop animal testing. They did, within the week! Probably no amount of interest groups or consultants could have been so successful so fast.  But when their colleague, speaking as an impassioned expert, made his case, everyone listened. Something they had held onto for years, fell away within a five minute presentation.  But there is more to the story.  Other authors, spoke of values, integrity, changing ways of working, technology improvements, biology, complexity, etc.  Many of these presentations, while not directly about animals connected with the the elephant's intelligence in a variety of ways, reinforcing the idea that there were better ways to learn about their products than test them on animals. Suddenly the entire organization became more self aware, more eager to learn about themselves and to shed some long held beliefs. 

I could write many more such stories and if you've done this exercise you too probably have things to share. It is powerful. 

What I've learned through my years of developing our process and method is how easy it is to have people make fundamental, often transforming changes when they can do it for themselves.  We just need to provide interesting, challenging, and inspiring exercises chunked together through interesting iterations of design.

Scan and Play

“If science always insists that a new order must be immediately fruitful, or that it has some new predictive power, then creativity will be blocked. New thoughts generally arise with a play of the mind, and the failure to appreciate this is actually one of the major blocks to creativity.Thought is generally considered to be a sober and weighty business. But here it is being suggested that creative play is an essential element in forming new hypotheses and ideas.Indeed, thought which tries to avoid play is in fact playing false with itself. Play, it appears, is the very essence of thought.”

David Bohm with David F. Peat, in their book, Science, Order, and Creativity, 1976

One of my author mentors, Draper Kaufman, in his book Teaching The Future, 1976 writes about how teachers, administrators, and parents had no idea how to think about the future;yet, here they were training young people to live in the future.  When asked, many assured Kaufman that "the future would be just the same, just more so."
Matt and I met Kauffman when I invited him to The Learning Exchange to talk with teachers about how to think about the future.  Later at dinner he told the story of one of his classes for high school teachers where he gave each teacher the assignment of completing a story. Each was given the first paragraph and asked to write out the rest of the story. After the teachers turned in their stories, he told them that half of them had the first paragraph as past tense and the other half in future tense.  Those that had the past tense assignment wrote far more than those with future tense.  When asked why, those with future tense admitted that they did not know how to think about the future.  They were not experts, they could not imagine, they didn't want to be wrong! Wrong? It was all made up. Those that wrote longer stories about the past used their imagination and there was no right or wrong! This is why Matt and I developed the Backcasting module.  We wanted ordinary citizens to practice living and working with the future. 
Our "first paragraphs" always spoke of success, sometime in the future. Participants were asked to look back in time and remember the parts they played in the success.  This is one of the most important and fun modules of our entire body of work.  We have watched thousands of participants dream, envision, and include themselves in stories of success ... great deeds accomplished; barriers overcome; simple solutions finding their way into stagnent cultures.  Today, backcasting is an often used module with many, many organizations who have never even heard of where the idea originated and for what purpose. 
Another early module to help people get over their fear of the future is our TimeLine scenario exercise.  In 1983 almost every event we did had as part of its SCAN, the development of a 50 year time line.  We marked off our long walls with dates across the top and general subjects down the side.  Participants were asked to come to the front of the room and state something that happened within this 50 years.  It was backcasting from 25 years in the future.  Participants jumped around with in this time frame.  First well known markers were noted: 1984, WWII victory, Man on the moon, Kennedy assignation, etc. These prompted other memories and spontaneity. Things like "No more war by 2010, new forms of energy by 2000; political unrest, etc.  Over an hour or so, the time line filled out with amazing patterns beginning to emerge and tell a story. Participants were seeing, some for the first time, that neither the past nor the future can be seen as a lits of ideas without context or cultural awareness. Although initially scary for some, as the board began to fill, all jumped up with ideas they wanted to get into the story.  By the end of a three day workshop or event, participants grew to like the future and to see the roles they could play in shaping it.  Here with our process, was a place to practice thinking and playing with the future. 
Today, it is not so rare or scary to play with the future.  And finally, slowly, as a nation, a world, we are learning to think longer term. Most important to me, is the notion that ordinary citizens are learning that the experts don't know as much as they know as a group.  When a group of people work with future, imagine it, move ideas back and forth among them, there is amazing accuracy of pattern and general happenings. 
Nothing is more important to a healthy, transforming process than providing good scan modules where there is no right or wrong and everyone participates from their own vantage point. 
Both of these modules do well with a larger number of participants. Diversity in mind sets, cultures, ages, educational backgrounds, and fields of inquiry give dimension and character. And both of these modules are great openings for a group who has no experience of each other, no common language, no group vision. 

"The future is rational only in hindsight." MG Taylor Axiom, 1983

How the Hippies Saved Physics

The future is rational only in hindsight. MG Taylor Axiom, 1983

Serendipity plays an interesting part in life. I recently went to Amazon's wish list to look for a birthday gift for my son, Jeff, and saw How the Hippies Saved Physics. It caught my attention, looked good so I ordered two copies.  Meanwhile, a group of us are beginning the writing of a book which we currently call 30 Years of WOW.  The story we want to write is the story of Matt and Gail Taylor's work, and more importantly the impetus that gave rise to the work and how it is becoming  a ubiquitous way of working. The story is full of time lags, other originators, and imagination writ big!

I had not read far in the book to have the entire 70's return to the forefront of my memory.  Our fashions, music, protocols and assumptions about a way of life.  I grew up in Kansas City, Mo, generally considered to be a conservative environment. Yet the 70's were in full bloom here too.  Maybe not the San Francisco scene, but the same questioning and restless searching. Where was society heading? Wasn't life meant to be richer more satisfying? Wasn't there ways to make life better for everyone? 

Sound bytes from the Hippies book:

"The hippies self-consciously opened up space again for freewheeling speculation, for the kind of spirited philosophical engagement with fundamental physics that the Cold War decades had dampened. More than most of their generation, the sought to recapture the big-picture search for meaning that had driven their heros - Einstein, Bohm, Heisenberg, and Schrodinger - and to smuggle that mode of doing physics back into their daily routine."

"The hippie counterculture sported a playful worship of youth, spontaneity, and 'authenticity.'"

"Try as we might, we cannot cleave off the goup or its activities from the 'real' physics of the day. Many of the members' activities placed them on one end of a spectrum, to be sure. But no hard -and-fast dividing line separated them from legitimate - even illustrious - science.'

Matt's course, Rebuilding the Future (1976), was about the rate of change and how to prepare for it and design our future rather than letting it happen by default.  This course, too, was full of diversity: very mainstream people, hippies, multiple ages, races, life styles. We had one thing in common, a hunger to help shape the future. 

The next 25 years, according to Matt would bring about more change than had occurred since the middle ages. Ordinary citizens would have more power than any king or queen who had ever lived.  We were each part of the future and should bring it about by design, not default.  Matt's course had us explore the cycles of the creative process, not just in our personal lives, but as a larger cycle within culture and meaning.  Culture follows science from metaphysical thought and vision, through intent, insight, building. There is basically a generation of time lag between the understanding of science working its way into mainstream thinking. This creates paradigm shifts when the old way of thinking - Cartesian, clockwork, heirarchical -  begins to die and a new paradigm is birthing.  Mostly, people took sides and had nothing to say to each other. 

My work when I joined Matt's class was in education.  The Learning Exchange, a Teacher's Center attracted some of the best and brightest teachers within a 100 mile radius of Kansas City, MO. We worked with Dean's of Education, professors, teachers at all levels, parents, and community leaders. Yet it was rare for me to find someone interested in the future. I longed for people to exchange ideas with, to perturb my own thinking about the future.  The Renascence Project offered that for me. 

This was our mode when we founded MG Taylor Corporation. How could we help educators, community leaders, rebels, and ordinary folks to give the future a try? What is it we needed to provide to unleash this dormant knowledge about the future? Matt and I were both passionate about our beliefs in Group Genius.  We had our own experiences and wanted to incorporate it into whatever we were doing. 

As the book, How the Hippies Saved Physics, indicates we were not the only ones interested in a different future.  The 70's represented a wake up call and a number of us were listening and acting on our internal beliefs. We were going against mainstream although I doubt if many of us recognized this at the time. I, for one, was simply doing what I had a passion for. It just seemed like the thing to do. 

Over the next several journals, I plan to take different aspects of our method and write about how they got incorporated into the process.  I'll be starting with:

design of the walls and environment
working big
building trust

All of these concepts were developed within a context, place and time called the 70's.




An Ecology of Mind

"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think."
                                                           - Gregory Bateson

We are lucky here on the Mendonoma Redwood Coast, an area that covers the northern most coast of Sonoma County and the southern coast of Mendocino.  Rural, yes, but sophisticated too.  We have an incredible Art Center and community of artists. We have a small, community managed, theater capable of bringing New York Operas right into the theater.  We have no street lights, little traffic and the closest thing to a franchise are our local True Value hardware stores.  We have two radio stations, one a public one and the other capable of assisting us through potential disasters.  Our stores are unique and heavily involved in community through the arts in one way or another.  Our independent bookstore, the Four-eyed Frog serves people all over the country through its wonderful web site. Local foods are both a vocation and advocation here. 

And now, we have Nora Bateson bringing her film about her Dad, Gregory Bateson, to our theater. We who live in the midst of natural abundance and a do-it-for-ourselves economy have the pleasure of hosting Nora as she presents her film, An Ecology of Mind on July 3rd at 7pm in our Point Arena theater.  I bet those of us able to see the film on July 3rd will think a little more like nature.  I look forward to coming to knowing the Mind of Nature more fully.

Big History

"Big History assembles accounts of the past from many different disciplines into a single, coherent account of the past."  From What is Big History?, Lecture 1, The Great Courses*

The past refers to the last 13 billion years!  Several months ago, I watched Professor David Christian's TED Talk on The Big History and then I listened to Bill Gates speak of the importance for young people to engage in such a course.  A group of us decided to invest in the 48 thirty minute DVDs and listen to the lectures together, over dinner, wine and lively conversation.  For me it is a wonderful, perhaps life changing, time.  We are not yet halfway through the series but each of us is finding new meaning, new understanding. We are seeing patterns that we can not see from a close up, near term perspective. 

In a nutshell, Christian speaks of eight thresholds beginning with the Big Bang and continuing through today.  Each threshold is an extraordinary  increase in complexity, and by its nature, fragile.  Threshold five brings life to our planet.  Threshold 6, 7, and 8 include human history. We are very recent. 

Humans appear as the 7th threshold, the Paleolithic Era. Christian's working theory is that what makes us human is our unique form of adaptation "collective learning".  All living beings adapt and change but it is very slow often over millienum.  Collective learning enables us to combine, store and reuse information. 

Those of you who know me know that I like to find patterns.  I attempt to work and see at a meta level. If you go to our library, you will find books that help me see and seek patterns.  Patterns are always prevelant in my design and facilitation. 

The following two quotes are magnificent in helping me see patterns from the past unfolding today. 

"There was neither non-existence nor existence then." What we are talking about is a sort of state in which there is not quite nothing, but there's not quite something: there's "sort of a potential". --- Rigveda, the basic Hindu scriptures.

I think of paradigm shifts.  The old is crumbling, disolving; the new is forming, solidifying. We are approaching our 9th threshold and a sort of potential.  We are in a fragile moment in history.

"The evolution of multi-cellular organisms was a complex process. For such organisms to work, billions of cells had to cooperate and communicate with great precision.  It was also necessary for them to be able to communicate with each other in some way, and for each cell to know its place and role in he functioning of the organism as a whole.  These are staggering organizational challenges. However, such challenges were not entirely unprecedented, for evolution can involve cooperation as well as competition. In fact, simpler forms of cooperation that do not count as multi-cellularity had already evolved.  Even eukaryotes formed through symbiosis between distinct types of prokaryotes."

This seems to me to be the same pattern we must repeat today, but on a higher order.  Is this not our challenge today ... for billions of people to learn to cooperate and communicate with great precision? 

Is this not our next collective learning adaptation? Today's mantra for collaboration and cooperation are not fads. It is more than a current trend.  When we take a long now approach, we can see that we are being shown the easiest, most natural route to crossing Threshold 8 successfully. 

Time and work is precious today.  If you are reading this you are probably one of the people building the scafolding for the next threshold.  There always seems to be more work than we could possibly do. Still I invite you to find some friends and enroll in an awesome experience.  You can rent the course from many libraries and The Learning Company has sales for more than 80% off.  I got my set for $90, a very good investment.  And, let's get the kids enrolled. It can be a wonderful family experience!



1: to engage the attention or energies of
2 a : to take up (a place or extent in space) <this chair is occupied> <the fireplace will occupy this corner of the room>
b : to take or fill (an extent in time) <the hobby occupies all of my free time>
3a : to take or hold possession or control of <enemy troops occupied the ridge>
b : to fill or perform the functions of (an office or position)
4: to reside in as an owner or tenant
— oc·cu·pi·er noun

Origin of OCCUPY
Middle English occupien to take possession of, occupy, from Anglo-French occupier, occuper, from Latin occupare, from ob- toward + -cupare (akin to capere to seize) — more at ob-, heave
First Known Use: 14th century
from Merriam-Webster dictionary

This morning I listened to the TED talk : The Birth of a Word. The author, Deb Ray, uses his 18 minute talk to explore the unfolding of his child's first words and then moves on to show the research going on to map words and how they filter down throughout  the social environment. As I listened I began to think about the word "occupy" and where the spikes and filtrations of this word were humming and streaming throughout the world.  The talk was made in March, 2011, before we, the 99% gave a deeper meaning to Occupy. It would be both fun and significant to map this word as it travels through time.

Clearly, Deb's talk revealed how important it is to choose words carefully and meaningfully.  As our new global paradigm unfolds, it seems essential to bring new words forth and to give them meaning through all of our media.  What are the words that speak to a better more equitable world?  Words like "environment, sustainable, health, peace" are useful words, but they are often co-opted by the media reporting the old news. They are not thoughtful, crafted words to speak a new language at this moment in time.

This is not to infer that we need all newly invented words. "Occupy" comes from the 14th Century! But it is recontextualized and made fresh and tactical. I think it would be interesting to search all media and find words that are emerging, not yet popular, words filled with new meaning and purpose.  If we could map these words, we could find ways to spread them and accelerate the development of a new paradigm. 

I'd love to hear your words ... words that you are tracking as you work to cause a new paradigm to progress and mature. 



Twelve Angry Men

In the movie, Twelve Angry Men, a jury must decide whether or not to reach a guilty verdict and sentence the 19 year old defendant to death. At the beginning of the play, eleven jurors vote “guilty.” Only one man, Juror #8, believes that the young man might be innocent. He must convince the others that “reasonable doubt” exists. One by one, the jury is persuaded to agree with Juror #8.

The film was produced in 1957 but I only stumbled on it a few weeks ago while looking for a good rental movie.  Now, it is on my list of "see often" movies. I have much to learn from it. 

The drama is a beautiful show for how to bring a diverse, non-engaged group of people into a conversation that allows each person in his own way to challenge his assumptions and authenically change his vantage point.  This kind of process is at the heart of Group Genius

Juror #8, against all odds, asks questions and plays 'Spoze with the other jurors making sure that each of the men are brought into an environment of care and listening.  The young boy being tried has had every bad break possible, including a lawyer appointed by the state, who simply did not care if he lost the case. He just assumed his guy was guilty. 

The movie started with 11 jurors against one and the one, Juror #8, was not even sure of the boy's innocense. He only claimed there was reasonable doubt which meant that he was not guilty for sure. With one question and one test, Juror 8 began the process of getting the others to begin the process of thinking for themselves rather than to assume that he could give away their vote without careful consideration. 

One question led to someone else's question and slowly the group came together to ask real questions of each other ... ones that mattered not only to the boy but to each of the jurors.  It was a prime example of the MG Taylor Axioms: 1) Everything that someone tells you is true. They are reporting their experience of reality. 2) To argue with someone else's experience is a waste of time. 3) To add someone's experience to your experience--to create a new experience--is possibly valuable.

These three axioms unfolded over and over throughout the 90 minute film which in the drama was the better part of a day. 

And in the end, most of the jurors left feeling that "WE" found the boy not guilty.  Each played a part and changed their vote only when to do so was authentic, not because others pressured them to conform. 

Of course I wish politics could have this form of dialog. Our world would be so much better. But, my message here is for all of us as facilitators of Group Genius to engage and learn from Twelve Angry Men.

Books, Books, Books

Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
Sir Francis Bacon, English author, courtier, & philosopher (1561 - 1626)

After a long dry spell with reading, I am now absorbing a number of delicious books. Delicious to me means that they delight my senses and excite my knowingness.  They ring true in my heart and soul and make me happy that I am part of the human race. 

The five books I highlight here are well researched and  each gives direction to a new paradigm in formation.  They help me understand the nuances of the old, industrial paradigm, while providing exciting and tested new ideas that exemplify an exciting new world. 

I try to read much as Sir Francis Bacon advises in the opening quote.  I don't read to find absolute facts nor do I think there is such a thing as totally unbiased research. Over the last few years my usual optimism has faded and infact I have ocassionally dropped into a real funk about the state of the world.  The ideas of the authors. along with an increasing number of articles and papers, lead me to "weighing and considering" hope and possibility again.  I am thinking the tide is turning and that the human search for meaning is maturing, full of hope and actionable ideas.  I am sure we have rough times ahead but for me, it is great to have these guiding lights ahead. The authors and writers of these books are all practical and visionary.  They lay down exciting trips of possibilitiy. That's my kind of book. 

I have only finished reading Reality is Broken. I have just perused the others, digesting the table of contents, poking through some of the chapters. Each is perturbing, especially as I read them syntopically.   In many ways the content is not new to me and may not be new to you. But I am refreshed and find myself remembering what I think is the real, natural human consciousness, rather than the one we came to know through the industrial age.   You'll find out more about the books by visiting the Tomorrow Makers Book Shelf.

Now You See It, by Cathy Davidson
Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal.
The Mind, edited by John Brockman
Culture, edited by John Brockman
The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch


When is an Expert Dangerous?

An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field.
Niels Bohr 

What role can be most effective for experts in today's world of collective intelligence?  Most conferences and meetings still begin with "experts" talking to the listeners.  The listeners are to be learning "what" and "how" to think about a given subject.  At best, ideas are being perturbed in the listeners minds, but not made to think differently. At the end of the talks, listeners have a few minutes left to ask questions and make comments. 

When I have suggested to conference and workshop developers that they not begin with key note speakers, I am told that no one will come if there is not a draw from the experts. This might be true, or at least true for a while longer, but using an expert to attract does not infer that the expert speaks first and shares what he or she knows up front.  In many ways, this does disservice to the expert because there is little new learning required by this person. They miss out on the chance to learn new ways to think about their subject ... to grow the knowledge base around their expertise, and to have personal insights gained from wider vantage points. 

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Mission Impossible Becomes Possible Through Play

Play is our brains favorite way of learning.
Diane Ackerman, Contemporary American author

Perhaps Steven Nachmanovitch says it best in his book Free Play: "Play cannot be defined, because in play all definitions slither, dance, combine, break apart and reconnect. ... In play we manifest fresh, interactive ways of relating with people, animals, things, ideas, images, ourselves. It flies of social hierarchies. We toss together elements that were formerly separate. Our actions take on novel sequences.  To play is to free ourselves from arbitrary restrictions and expand our field of action.  ... Play enables us to rearrange our capacities and our very identity so they can be used in unforeseen ways.

"Play" is different from "game".  Play is the free spirit of exploration, doing and being for its own pure joy.  Game is an activity, defined by a set of rules like baseball, sonnet, symphony, diplomacy.  Play is an attitude, a spirit, a way of doing things, whereas game is a defined activity with rules and a playing field and participants."

I find joy whenever I read  Nachmanovitch's words. His words emulate his thesis of free play.  My mind does its own dancing and hopping, connecting, and enjoying new spaces, new possibilities. 

Play has played a vital part in all of my work, which began with seven and eight year olds in public education.  It wasn't what I learned from adults that set me on my search for meaning, but what these young minds offered.  When given the opportunity their play was incredible and wonderful.  They learned very serious things from play, in their own time, with their own rules and with each other.  More than anything else, play is about relationships that provide pure pleasure and meaning through interactions that surprise and delight and deepen understanding of our humanness, as opposed to the rules that constrict and close us down.  

Through the unfolding of The Learning Exchange, MG Taylor Corporation, and Tomorrow Makers I have learned how easy it is for adults to engage together in collaborative play.  Simulations, Inventions, Design of the Impossible are modules that are built into this work and people find themselves shedding inhibitions, assumptions, and engaging in new and remarkable ways. The art of creating together and collaborating in ways long forgotten resurface. Change happens. 

So I was delighted to see Jane McGonigal's Ted Talk on how games can make a better world.  I have now finished reading her book, Reality is Broken, and am convinced that Jane is on to something important.  Nachmanovitch invites us to play with him on every page of his book.  McGonigal provides research and a deeper understanding of why games could help reconceive and rebuild our world. 

Jane researches and explores such things as:

* Why games make us happy and what exactly is the happiness factor
* Stronger social connectivity
* Becoming something bigger than ourselves
* Reinventing reality
* How very big games can change the world
* The Engagement Economy
* Saving the Real World Together

In 1979 Matt and I created a long now scenario 25 years into the future.  Our scenario ended with "Rebuilding the Earth as a work of Art.  The real adventure begins." In deed, this is Jane's proposal and the promise of games.

In 1979, when we proposed our vision, there was no Internet, let alone any understanding of social media, virtual games, global citizenry, paradigm shifts, etc.  Over the years, all of this has come to be.  The adjacent possible is available and waiting. 

Anyone want to take part in creating the next great game? Let us know. we can do it together!


Oh No! Not Another Election!

Squander: To spend lavishly or profusely; to spend prodigally or wastefully; to use without economy or judgment; to dissipate; as, to squander an estate.

I cringe at the reality of another election! Is there anything more insidious than billions of dollars being spent on lies and sound bites?  Reality shows which are, in my mind, mostly stupid, stand head and shoulders above national elections.  And they are very difficult to get away from.  They permeate our minds, bodies, and souls.  We recognize the lies and the silly bickering for what they are and yet as almost all are born to breed fear and loathing about the other candidates, our culture, our weaknesses, our future ... and on and on.  By the time the election is finally decided, all we know is that someone won.  And, for sure it is not the American people. 

But, could it be? Could we have a different kind of election?  President Obama says he will spend a billion dollars on his campaign to win a second term.  And much of it will be raised by grass root efforts. So what if we changed the game.  What if we could talk one candidate to not squander his or her money on stupid TV adds, but rather to give it back into the community to improve the health and wellbeing of the American people and all that goes with them? 

Here are just a few of the ideas that need help and renewal: Our environment, our health systems, education, infrastructure, etc.  Sure dumping dollars into the ongoingness of these systems is pretty useless, but what if we could use the money to transform our way of thinking and allocating resources to one of these pressing problems?  What if campaign dollars could change the game and set a new pattern for engaging citizens in creating a more fit 21st Century mission?

This seems like a natural of Obama, but then he seems to be owned by other forces.  Is he strong enough, if he had the help of the Second Super Power (grass roots vision and know how) to turn this squandered resource into a healthy asset? Is there a real way to work together? I know he wants us to work with him ... but it is to raise money for ads and other stuff ... a real, tragic waste of our souls and talents. 

Media companies thrive during elections. It is to their gain to distort and game the system.  It is all they know how to do.  I know this idea will be dismissed and said to "be too difficult." How could we ever decide what to support when we are so fractured as a society?  Yes! It will be difficult ... but I know in my heart of hearts that as humans we have an innate desire to work together, to solve difficult problems, to live within complexity, and to co-design our way into a new world.  It is just that the existing systems hold us in place. 

How can we push this idea into reality? 

Pipe cleaners, tin foil and new possibilities

Originally posted on The Value Web blog

Victoria, British Columbia. Participants of the Transmission Global Summit were deeply immersed in their second roundtable discussion, culling together their ideas as to the characteristics of entrepreneurs, corporations and regional clusters within the creative industries that would enable them to thrive. They had been working for about 30 minutes when I began stopping by each group, dropping off a box of assorted odds and ends one may find in the closet of an elementary school art class: cardboard, straws, felt, string, rubber bands, balloons, pipe cleaners, tin foil, etc.typical modelshop supplies

Continue your conversation," I instructed, "but as you do, use these materials to build a representational 3D model that exemplifies the distinguishing characteristics, qualities, structures and capabilities you have been identifying in your conversation thus far.

The conversation stops as they take in what I'm telling them, and their gaze moves back and forth between me and the box I've just deposited to the middle of their table...

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