trends

The Future Exit SignI’ve written many times about the challenges we all face trying to predict the future. Just last week I offered “Seven Principles for Taking Charge of Your Future.” None of them involves predicting anything.

I gave up making predictions many years ago.

In the immortal words at that great American philosopher, Yogi Berra,

It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

[A quick Google search suggests that Nobel-prize-winning physicist Neils Bohr may have said that first, but it’s more fun attributing it to Yogi Berra]

I prefer to approach the inherent uncertainties about the future with a radically different mindset.

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I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old (not old – just long-time) friend and colleague – Teri Flynn, the founder and principal/design guru at Flynn Architecture, based in Oakland, California.

Teri and I first met back in the mid-00’s, when I was studying and writing about what I then called “business community centers” but which have since become widely known as “coworking” facilities.

She was the architect behind the Berkeley and San Francisco coworking centers known as The Impact Hub (both are thriving, and they’ve been joined by Teri’s third Impact Hub design, at The Hive, located on Broadway in the Uptown part of Oakland, and right next door to her own studio).

Teri and I met for lunch in The Hive neighborhood, at a delightful restaurant and brew pub (Drake’s Brewery) with an outdoor garden seating area that was enclosed by a delightful old brick wall but open to the sky on a mild January day (that’s not an oxymoron, we do live in California!). [click to continue…]

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Disappearing Work - StuckyIn October my monthly Talking About Tomorrow membership program (“TAT”) featured former IBM researcher and current Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University – and Very Smart Person – Susan Stucky, who led the group in an important conversation about “disappearing work.”

But Susan wasn’t talking just about all the jobs that are being automated out of existence. She is of course highly aware of, and deeply concerned about, automation, but she asked the TAT participants to focus on another, often unseen, side of the emerging digital economy.

She opened with this statement by economist W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, from a 2011 thought piece in McKinsey Quarterly:

Digitization is creating a second economy that’s vast, automatic, and invisible—thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

(from “The Second Economy,” October 2011) [click to continue…]

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Sigmoid1Last week (“Ignore the Sigmoid Curve as Your Peril”) I described the Sigmoid curve, also known as the technology assimilation curve and the “S-curve.”

It depicts the way many new technologies, new products, and new ideas grow in the marketplace; they begin slowly, and then if successful reach what Malcolm Gladwell dubbed the Tipping Point, followed by rapid, almost out-of-control growth. Inevitably, however, even the most successful products/ideas eventually experience slowing growth, which is often followed by decline as even newer technologies and products begin their own new growth curves: [click to continue…]

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We live in uncertain, unpredictable times.

That may be one of the least controversial and most widely accepted statements I’ve ever made.

The world in 2016 is filled with “VUCA” – Variety, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. We face “wicked problems” every day.

However, as chaotic and dynamic as 2016 seems, this is hardly the first time the world has seemed out of control. In fact, that familiar phrase, “The future isn’t what it used to be” (meaning, the future won’t be like the past), was first used by the French poet and philosopher Paul Valery in 1937.

Indeed, for most of the last several hundred years the future has usually seemed unpredictable, if not uncontrollable. Ever since the Industrial Revolution we have experienced never-ending technological change, although clearly the rate of change has been accelerating at an incredible rate of its own. [click to continue…]

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I ended last week immersed in an intensive two-day extended conversation with about 65 really smart workplace designers, real estate executives, facility management professionals, architects, consultants, and HR/leadership experts.

I was a participant, a presenter, and a co-designer of the first innovation workshop that brought together the Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) and the Real Estate and Advisory Leadership (REAL) communities within IFMA (the International Facilities Management Association). The workshop was hosted by Nike at its Tiger Woods Conference Center in Beaverton, Oregon.

There is no simple way to summarize the many presentations, conversations, and working sessions that engaged and excited all of us. [click to continue…]

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FutureShock

(image from Amazon.com)

The recent passing of Alvin Toffler has led me to reflect more than usual on the challenge we still face of overcoming – or at least surviving – “Future Shock.”

Toffler defined Future Shock (way back in 1970) as the “dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future.” As Farhad Manjoo commented in the New York Times on July 6:

…‘unless intelligent steps are taken to combat it,’ [Toffler] warned, “millions of human beings will find themselves increasingly disoriented, progressively incompetent to deal rationally with their environments.”

How’s that for an accurate forecast? Considering that Toffler issued that warning close to 50 years ago, it was uncannily prescient.

Manjoo goes on to comment in his excellent thought piece (“Why We Need to Pick Up Alvin Toffler’s Torch”) that it is both ironic and tragic that “futurism” has gone out of style. Now, when the pace of change is accelerating faster than ever, and the potential sources of disruption are ever more numerous, is exactly when we need to think constructively about where we’re headed. [click to continue…]

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conversations1

“Creating a positive future begins in human conversation. The simplest and most powerful investment any member of a community or an organization may make in renewal is to begin talking with other people as though the answers mattered.” – William Greider

For the past six years I have hosted a monthly “open mike” conversation focused on the forces that are driving the future of work. It’s called Talking About Tomorrow.

Over the past twelve months, 25 talented individuals have engaged in a one-hour group “mind meld” on the second Thursday of each month, sharing their insights about how the nature of work is changing and what the future might look like. It’s a powerful way to expand your “peripheral vision” and prepare for the future.

For the next two weeks I am opening the program to new members.

Please consider joining. For a small annual fee, you can become an integral part of a diverse group of very smart people and engage with your peers in a far-reaching, extended conversation about the future of work. [click to continue…]

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Group Meeting

There is no question that the future of work is centered around meetings. Meetings are the way people share ideas, learn from each, collaborate to produce new knowledge, solve problems, and make decisions.

Meetings are central to the future of work, yet most people I talk to complain that their meetings are horribly mismanaged most of the time, and are all too often a painful waste of their time.

That’s why I am on a crusade to make every meeting matter.

The first step to making your meetings matter is to be more intentional about them. And that starts with being exceptionally clear about why you are calling the meeting and what purpose you want it to accomplish.

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, a meeting is not a meeting is not a meeting. [click to continue…]

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covermeetingI was recently interviewed about Making Meetings Matter by Dr. Jac Fitz-Enz (“Interviewing Jim Ware”). In the course of our conversation he asked me why I had moved from my long-term focus on the future of work to something as “mundane” as corporate meetings.

Dr. Jac’s question caught me a bit off guard, but it made me think. Here’s his question and my response:

Dr. Jac:

Jim what took you from the lofty heights of futuring to the more mundane issues around meetings? There’s no question that we all suffer from meetingitis, but what drew you to it?

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