Methods to Shape the Future
* Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger (Prof of Internet Governance and Regulation, Oxford U Internet Institute) and Kenneth Cukier (Data Editor, The Economist). Boston & NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 242p, $27. The world is awash with more information than ever before, and that information is growing faster. “Big data” is the ability of society to harness information in novel ways to produce useful insights or goods and services of significant value. “The era of big data challenges the way we live and interact with the world. Most strikingly, society will need to shed some of its obsession for causality in exchange for simple correlations: not knowing why but only what.” (p.7) Big data’s ascendancy represent three shifts in the way we analyze information that transforms how we understand and organize society: 1) in this new world, we can analyze far more data, and in some cases we can process all of it relating to a particular phenomenon (since the19C society depended on samples when faced with large numbers—an artifact of a period of information scarcity; using all the data lets us see details we never could); 2) looking at vastly more data permits us to loosen our desire for exactitude: with big data, we’ll often be satisfied with a sense of general direction; 3) this leads to a move away from the age-old search for causality. Big data changes the nature of business, markets, and society. With sensors placed all over the world, it will become integral to understanding pollution data and climate change. It will improve and lower the cost of healthcare. “There is a treasure hunt under way, driven by the insights to be extracted from data and the dormant value that can be unleashed.” (p15) But there are also risks: threats to privacy, penalties based on propensities (punishing people before they have acted, i.e. “predictive policing”), and falling victim to a “dictatorship of data.” Handled responsibly, big data is a useful tool of rational decision-making and helps us to do things better and to do new things; wielded unwisely, it may be a source of repression. “As big data becomes commonplace, it may well affect how we think about the future… Knowing how actions will play out in the future will allow us to take remedial steps to prevent problems or improve outcomes.” [NOTE: Rather glib and repetitious, but worth considering, even if the techno-swagger “revolution” is not as clear or imminent as suggested in the book title.] (BIG DATA “REVOLUTION” * COMMUNICATION * SOCIETY * METHODS)
* What Should Think Tanks Do? A Strategic Guide to Policy Impact. Andrew Selee (Vice President of Programs, Woodrow Wilson Center). Palo Alto CA: Stanford U Press/Stanford Briefs, July 2013, 112p, $12.99pb (also as e-book). This Brief offers a practical guide specifically tailored to think tanks, policy research, and advocacy organizations. Selee draws on interviews with members of leading think tanks, as well as cutting-edge thinking in business and non-profit management, to provide concrete strategies for setting policy-oriented goals and shaping public opinion. (THINK TANKS * METHODS * POLICY AND THINK TANKS)
* EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. Frances Moore Lappe (cofounder, Food First: The Institute for Food and Development Policy, the Small Planet Institute, the Small Planet Fund; contributor, Huffington Post and Alternet). NY: Nation Books (dist by Perseus Books), Apr 2013, $16.99pb. (first published, Sept 2011). Author of Diet for a Small Planet and 16 other books states that the biggest challenge to human survival isn’t our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it’s our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappé addresses seven common “thought traps”—from limits to growth to the failings of democracy— that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting “thought leaps” that reveal our hidden power. (ENVIRONMENT * METHODS * ECOMIND)
* Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World (Second Edition). Bob Johansen (Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future; IFF president and CEO, 1996 - 2004). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, May 2012, 244p, $29.95 (also as e-book). We are in a time of disruptive change—traditional leadership skills won’t be enough. Drawing on the latest ten-year forecast from the Institute for the Future, Johansen explores the external forces that are shaking the foundations of leadership and unveils ten critical new skills that will be required in the future. The second edition partners with the Center for Creative Leadership, reporting on lessons learned about applying the new leadership skills, and two new forces shaping the future: 1) “digital natives” 15 years and younger who have grown up in a completely digital world; and 2) cloud-based supercomputing that will enable new forms of connection, collaboration, and commerce, and greatly facilitate reciprocity-based innovation. Identifies new skills vital to coping with today’s uncertain, rapidly changing world, and includes exercises and assessments for developing and applying these skills. (LEADERSHIP * LEADERSHIP SKILLS)
* The Transforming Leader: New Approaches to Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Carol S. Pearson (President, Pacifica Graduate Institute; former faculty, U of Maryland, U of Colorado, and Georgetown U). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Fetzer Institute, June 2012, 294p, $39.95pb (also as e-book). We live in a complex, fast-evolving, highly connected world. Leaders today must not only optimize all their own faculties—mind, body, and spirit—they must harvest the full capacities of those around them. Scholars and practitioners focuses on how leaders today achieve transformational results. Part 1 offers an overview of what transformational leadership is, how it works, and how it is evolving. Part 2 shows readers how to increase cognitive complexity, link up their conscious and unconscious minds, and lead in ways that connect mind, heart, and spirit. Part 3 describes ways of leading groups to harvest collective wisdom and promote coordinated performance in the service of transformational ends. Part 4 explores how transformational communication can anchor new learnings so that they become habitual. (LEADERSHIP * TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP)
* Unsimple Truths. Sandra D. Mitchell (Prof of History/Philosophy of Science, U of Pittsburgh). Chicago IL: U of Chicago Press, Dec 2012, 160p, $15 (also as e-book). The world is complex, but acknowledging its complexity requires an appreciation for the many roles context plays in shaping natural phenomena. What should count as legitimate science itself should change. The long-standing scientific and philosophical deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal laws, linear causal models, and predict-and-act strategies fails to accommodate the kinds of knowledge that many contemporary sciences are providing about the world. Mitchell advocates “integrative pluralism”—a theory of scientific practices that makes sense of how many natural and social sciences represent the multilevel, multicomponent, dynamic structures they study. (COMPLEXITY * INTEGRATIVE PLURALISM * METHODS)
*Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decisions. Charles F. Manski (Prof of Economics, Northwestern U). Cambridge MA: Harvard U Press, Feb 2013, 162p, $39.95. Current policy on issues ranging from vaccination to minimum wage to FDA drug approval is based on untrustworthy analysis. By failing to account for uncertainty in an unpredictable world, policy analysis misleads policy makers with expressions of certitude. Therefore, civil servants, journalists, citizens, and other consumers of policy analysis need to understand research methodology well enough to assess reported findings. In the current model, policy researchers base their predictions on strong assumptions, which lead to less credible predictions than weaker ones. Manski’s alternative approach takes account of uncertainty and moves policy analysis away from incredible certitude, toward honest portrayal of partial knowledge; this helps policy makers form reasonable decisions based on partial knowledge of outcomes. (PUBLIC POLICY AND UNCERTAINTY * METHODS * UNCERTAINTY AND POLICY)
* On Settling. Robert E. Goodin (Prof of Government, U of Essex and Distinguished Prof of Social/Political Theory, Australian National U). Princeton NJ: Princeton U Press, Oct 2012, 144p, $24.95. In a culture that worships ceaseless striving, “settling” seems like giving up. This disdained practice is not only more realistic but more useful than an excessive ideal of striving. We’d all be lost without settling—and that even to strive, one must first settle. We may admire strivers and love the ideal of striving, but who of us could get through a day without settling? Real people, confronted with a complex problem, simply make do, settling for some resolution that, while almost certainly not the best that one could find by devoting limitless time and attention to the problem, is nonetheless good enough. We settle on some things in order to concentrate better on others. Settling is useful for planning, creating trust, and strengthening the social fabric—and is different from compromise and resignation. (METHODS TO SHAPE THE FUTURE * SETTLING VS. STRIVING)
* Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World (Second Edition). Bob Johansen (Distinguished Fellow and former President, Institute for the Future, Palo Alto CA). Foreword by John Ryan (President, Center for Creative Leadership). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, May 2012, 245p, $29.95. First published in 2009, this revised and expanded edition has three key elements: a ten-year forecast of external future forces, ten required leadership skills to cope with these forces, and a new leadership development approach that emphasizes immersion in the future. IFTF has been issuing an annual Ten-Year Forecast for almost 40 years (IFTF has found that “the sweet spot for forecasting is about ten years ahead…far enough to see clear patterns that are not visible in the noise of the present”). Overall, “The core forecast is holding true: the VUCA World—Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous—has gotten even more threatening over the last three years, but new opportunities to make the world a better place have also surfaced.” This will be a very tough decade to be a leader, but also a very exciting and meaningful time to lead, with the right set of skills and appropriate expectations. The VUCA World is not unyielding: Volatility yields to vision; Uncertainty yields to understanding; Complexity yields to clarity; Ambiguity yields to agility. “The biggest danger is getting caught off guard.”
The jumbled ten-year forecast map spread out on the inside of the book jacket (with additional comments inside) includes financial disruptions, global climate disruption, modern diasporas (values-linked networks amplified by social media), new commons (pointing to new forms of cultural and economic production), cascading disruptions of food webs (food and water will be scarce in many parts of the world; food will be the flashpoint for rich/poor conflict), the disruptive force of digital natives highly connected to social media, cloud-served supercomputing providing a new infrastructure for innovation, amplified individuals due to advances in neuroscience, amplified organizations, pervasive eco-monitoring (with eco-system issues as an important part of everyday decisions), the blue economy in a “golden age of oceanography,” and asymmetrical open-source warfare.
Some enduring leadership principles: get there early but not too early (explained in Johansen’s 2007 B-K book, Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present), stay healthy in an unhealthy world, stay centered and filter out distraction, tell engaging stories to help people imagine a future, and act with courage in an engaging and self-effacing way. The ten new leadership skills, with chapters on each: 1) Maker Instinct: ability to exploit your inner drive to build and grow things, to make and remake organizations; 2) Clarity: ability to see through messes and contradictions to a future that others cannot yet see; 3) Dilemma Flipping: ability to turn dilemmas into advantages and opportunities; 4) Immersive Learning Ability: ability to put yourself in unfamiliar environments; 5) Bio-Empathy: ability to see things from nature’s point of view; 6) Constructive Depolarizing: ability to calm tense situations where differences dominate; 7) Quiet Transparency: ability to be open and authentic about what matters (inspired by the late IFF president, Roy Amara); 8) Rapid Prototyping; ability to create quick early versions of innovations; 9) Smart-Mob Organizing: ability to create, engage with, and nurture purposeful business or social change networks; 10) Commons Creating: ability to seed, nurture, and grow shared assets that can benefit all players. (LEADERSHIP SKILLS * INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE: TEN-YEAR FORECAST * COMPLEXITY * UNCERTAIN WORLD)
*The Art of Conjecture. Bertrand de Jouvenel (1903-1987; French political philosopher and futurist; founder, Futuribles). Introduction by Daniel J. Mahoney (Prof of Pol Sci, Assumption College, Worchester MA). Piscataway NJ: Transaction Publishers, June 2012, 319p, $34.95pb. First published in 1967 by Basic Books, de Jouvenel explains what the “study of future” can mean, emphasizes the logical and political foundations of forecasting, and discusses methods in economics, sociology, and political science by which the future can be studied. He also addresses the fallacies to which the “study of future” is peculiarly likely to give rise and argues that it is natural and necessary for the population to have visions of the future. Chapters discuss the nature of the future, a need of our species, why “conjecture” (as opposed to “knowledge”), why “futuribles” (the notion of the “possible” must be made “a trifle more rigorous”), the future as an object of knowledge, the principle of uncertainty, historical and scientific prediction, ways of conceiving the future, conjectures and decisions, the status of forecasting (“we need a [surmising] forum in which forecasts are proposed and debated; it is vital that a large number of competing propositions be offered”), quantification (it is likely that the concepts now used in calculating GNP will be modified in the future), short-term and long-term economic forecasting, the importance of forecasting ideas, forecasts and preferences (“there is a danger our preferences will run away with our forecasts”), and a concluding chapter on the surmising forum (“it is not a matter of foreseeing the future once and for all, but of discussing the future continuously”). [NOTE: An eloquent classic, long out of print, still of great relevance in our age of infoglut, complexity, and increasing fragmentation.] (METHODS * ART OF CONJECTURE * FORECASTING)
*Managing the Future: A Guide to Forecasting and Strategic Planning in the 21st Century. Stephen M. Millett (Futuring Associates LLC). Axminster, Devon UK: Triarchy Press, Dec 2011, 281p, L25pb. Millett holds a PhD in history and served as a technology forecaster and futurist at the Battelle Memorial Institute, 1979-2006. He calls his work “applied history” and prefers the term “futuring” rather than forecasting. In that “most futurists have a weak grounding in the philosophy and theories that lie behind their practices,” this book seeks to establish “a philosophy of futuring and a frame of reference for more closely united theory and practice,” based on five principles: 1) the future will be some unknown combination of continuity and change; 2) the future can be anticipated with varying degrees of uncertainty; 3) futuring and visioning are different but complementary perspectives; 4) the best forecasts and plans are methodically generated and provide well-considered expectations; 5) “forecasts and plans must be continuously monitored, evaluated, and revised according to new data and conditions.” Chapters are devoted to each principles, as well as to “Managing Futuring”(identifying goals and resources, selecting trends and variables, modeling interactions, the benefit of scenarios), “Managing Visioning” (visionary leadership, participatory visioning, the STEP-UP matrix), and “Managing Applications and Benefits” (anticipating changing customers and markets, envisioning potential new products and services, teaching the learning organization, risk management), and “Managing Expectations” (for yourself, others, your business, and the future of futuring). [Note: Competent and not in the slightest flashy: a marked contrast to Marcel Bullinga’s “Welcome to the Future Cloud”. Millett perfectly nails such normative futuring as “…engaging, typically enthusiastic, but too often detached from the constraints of everyday reality. They are inspiring, but not entirely convincing. They typically are also highly idealistic.” (p.197)] (METHODS * FUTURING * FORECASTING)
* Future Global Shocks: Improving Risk Governance. OECD International Futures Programme. Paris: OECD, Aug 2011, 138p, $28. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis global leaders are acutely aware that another systemic shock could severely challenge economic recovery, social cohesion, and even political stability. Visible indicators of vulnerability persist in the forms of economic imbalances, volatile commodity prices and currencies, colossal public debts and severe budget deficits. There is a palpable sense of urgency to identify and assess risks arising from vulnerabilities in these crucial systems, and to develop policies that will bolster efforts for prevention, early warning, and response to ensure sustained economic prosperity. Topics include the drivers of future global shocks (earthquakes, volcanoes, financial crises, political revolutions), risk assessments (particularly understanding of contagion and amplification effects), preparation tools (risk maps and threat models), emergency management (surveillance and monitoring capabilities, readily available countermeasures, automatic backup systems), and strategic approaches for managing future global shocks (vulnerabilities of economic integration require strengthening governing capacities through international institutions and norms and building societal resilience). [For a lengthy review, see GFB Book of the Month, Jan 2012.] (METHODS * RISK MANAGEMENT * WORLD FUTURES)
*In Search of the Missing Elephant: Selected Essays by Donald N. Michael. Introduction by Graham Leicester (Director, International Futures Forum, Scotland). Devon UK: Triarchy Press, May 2010, 116p. Five reprinted essays from the 1973-2000 period, more timely than ever in today’s climate of ever-growing complexity: 1) “Observations on a Missing Elephant” (JHP, 2000) argues that there is no elephant—that what is happening to the human race is too complex, interconnected, and dynamic to comprehend, and that governance can only become less effective; we must respond to our ignorance in a spirit of tentative commitment and be question-askers all the time; 2) “Leadership’s Shadow: The Dilemma of Denial” (Futures, 1991) argues that the most profound threat to developing a planetary civilization is the inability of leaders to confess that we do not know how to deal with many problems; meanwhile, the problems pile up and gridlock in ever more complex ways; 3) “Forecasting and Planning in an Incoherent Context” (TF&SC, 1989) notes the increasing number of blind persons and the number of elephants subject to interpretation; we must proclaim that we don’t know where we are so as to become a learning organization; 4) “With Both Feet Planted in Mid-Air” (Futures, 1985) describes the footless status of futures studies; there are many pasts, as well as many preferred constructions of the present; 5) “Technology and the Management of Change” (TF&SC, 1973) views the present situation in profound flux, as we increasingly face a turbulent social environment, and the need to embrace error. For a lengthy treatment, see GFB Book of the Month, Dec 2011.
(METHODS * COMPLEXITY * GOVERNANCE)
* Memories of the Future. Wendell Bell (Prof Emeritus of Sociology, Yale U). Transaction Publishers, Nov 2011, 308p, $44.95. Dreams and visions help to shape the future, although not always in the way we intend. Serendipity, feedback, twists and turns, chance and circumstance shape our future with sometimes surprising results. Partly autobiographical, Bell recognizes the importance of images of the future and the effect of these images on events to come. [NOTE: Longer abstract to follow.]
(METHODS * IMAGES OF THE FUTURE)
* Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises and Mega-Messes. Can M. Alpaslan (Assoc Prof of Business and Economics, California State U) and Ian I. Mitroff (Prof Emeritus of Communication and Management, U of Southern California; www.mitroff.net). Palo Alto CA: Stanford U Press, July 2011, 224p, $35. Answers the question of what steps we can take to better anticipate and manage mega-crises, such as Haiti, Katrina, and 9/11; provides tools and frameworks to deal more effectively with the crises of today and tomorrow; and explores the concept of “messes”. A mess is a web of complex and dynamically interacting, ill-defined, and/or wicked problems; their solutions; and our conscious and unconscious assumptions, beliefs, emotions, and values. The roots of messes can be defined as Swans (the inability to surface and test false assumptions and mistaken beliefs), Swine (the inability to confront and manage greed, hubris, arrogance, and narcissism), and Swindlers (the inability to confront, detect, and stop unethical and corrupt behavior).
(METHODS * MEGA-MESSES AND MEGA-CRISES * “MESS” MANAGEMENT)
** The Corporate Whistleblower’s Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth. Tom Devine (Legal Director, Government Accountability Project) and Tarek F. Maassarani (Adjunct Prof of Communication and Human Rights, George Washington U). San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers and Government Accountability Project, April 2011, 288p, $19.95pb (also as e-book). The Government Accountability project has helped over 5,000 people blow the whistle since 1977. Corporate whistleblowers save lives, prevent fraud, and preserve the environment by undergoing a long, difficult, draining, and often frightening process. They rarely have any idea what they’re in for and, daunted by the ferocity of the resistance and their feelings of isolation and helplessness, some give up, and others are broken financially and emotionally. Describes the tactics corporations use to attack whistleblowers and cover up or deny damaging revelations, and provides practical advice to whistleblowers on how to find information to support their claims, who to blow the whistle to, how to enlist allies, and taking advantage of legal opportunities. (BUSINESS * METHODS * WHISTLEBLOWER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE * GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT)
* Collaborative Intelligence: Using Teams to Solve Hard Problems. J. Richard Hackman (Prof of Social and Organizational Psychology, Harvard U). San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, May 2011, 240p, $29.95 (also as e-book). The volume, complexity, and global nature of intelligence work demand collaboration across a diversity of people, disciplines, and organizations. Unfortunately, teams often devolve into wheel-spinning, contentious assemblies that get nothing done —or do the wrong things. Draws on a decade of experience as a researcher and consultant to the intelligence community to show how intelligence leaders can create an environment where teamwork flourishes. Six conditions are necessary for any team to succeed: 1) setting up a well-defined, stable, interdependent unit; 2) getting the right people on the team; 3) defining a compelling purpose; 4) establishing clear norms of conduct; 5) creating a supportive organizational context; and 6) providing team-focused coaching. Lessons can be applied to any organization.
(METHODS * COLLABORATIVE INTELLIGENCE * INTELLIGENCE COLLABORATION)
* Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. Margaret Wheatley (Cofounder, Berkana Institute) and Deborah Frieze (President, Berkana Institute). San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2011, 288p, $24.95pb (also as e-book). This is an era of increasingly complex problems, fewer and fewer resources to address them, and failing solutions. Yet every community has within itself the ingenuity, intelligence, and inventiveness to solve the seemingly insolvable. Presents people who have “walked out” of limiting beliefs and assumptions and “walked on” to create seven healthy and resilient communities in India, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Greece, Columbus (Ohio), Brazil, and South Africa. (METHODS * CITIES)
* Wicked Problems – Social Messes: Decision Support Modeling with Morphological Analysis. Tom Ritchey (former Research Director, Institution for Technology Foresight and Assessment, Swedish National Defence Research Agency, Stockholm; www.ritcheyconsulting.com). NY: Springer, July 2011, 106p, $119. The first book on computer-aided General Morphological Analysis as a non-quantified modeling method. GMA was first developed by Fritz Zwicky at Cal Tech in the late 1940s to model complex policy issues. Presents 11 case studies out of >100 projects carried out since 1995, illustrating how GMA has been employed. Chapters discuss wicked problems and genuine uncertainty, ten criteria for wicked problems, the history of morphological methods, strengths and limits of GMA, facilitating GMA workshops, developing scenarios, and case studies on such topics as transport disruption scenarios, preparing for chemical accidents, multi-hazard disaster reduction strategies, Nordic energy scenarios, and electricity grid sabotage scenarios.
(METHODS * MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS * WICKED PROBLEMS * COMPLEXITY)
* Facing the Fold: Essays on Scenario Planning. James A. Ogilvy (Co-Founder, Global Business Network). Axminster, Devon UK: Triarchy Press, March 2011, 303p, $24.95pb. Reprinted essays by a former philosophy professor at Williams and Yale turned futurist, on such topics as plotting your scenarios (1996, with GBN colleague Peter Schwartz), scenario planning as both art and science (World Futures, 2005), education equity in the information age (OECD, 2006), future studies and the human sciences (Futures Research Quarterly, 1992), scenario planning and critical theory (FRQ, 1996), what business strategists can learn from Sartre (Strategy + Business, 2003), organizational learning and evolution (Singapore National Community Institute, 2002), scenario planning in the public and private sectors (with Eric Smith; Development, 2004), three scenarios for higher education in California (California Faculty Assn, 1992), and four scenarios for public education in Seattle (with Roger Erskine, 2002). In the 10-page introduction, Ogilvy writes about four chapters in the history of utopian thinking: the cyclical time of transition (an upward quest toward eternal ideals), modernity and progress (a more worldly path toward a better future, as invention flourished), postmodernism and the eclipse of utopia (where “the march of progress hit some speed bumps in the 20th century”; but “this declinism is tired, tiresome, and tiring; such pessimism gets us nowhere”), and the “fourth turning: a tragi-comic time of multiple scenarios,” as the futures flies at us both faster and less predictably than ever. “Neither as optimistic as modernity nor as pessimistic as postmodernity, the sensibility appropriate to multiple scenarios is one of wide-eyed wonder at the nearness of Heaven and Hell.” Adopting a perspective toward our tragi-comic future is like facing a landscape described by mathematician Rene Thom, who theorized seven different types of catastrophe, including the “fold” catastrophe. “Life in the fourth era of time is like standing at point C looking at a utopian point B even as one sees the distinct possibility of disaster at point A. Our hopes hide fears of disaster; our fears eclipse the optimism of our hopes.” This oscillation induces a sense of irony, and calls for alternative scenarios to handle multiple futures. By facing the fold, one is relieved of the naivete of optimism and the defeatism of the all-knowing cynic. Those who see no opportunities are blind; those who sense no threats are foolish. Those who see both may “just be able to make the choices and implement the plans that will take us to the high road and beyond." (METHODS * SCENARIO PLANNING * “TRAGI-COMIC ERA”)
* Ten Things to Do in a Conceptual Emergency. Graham Leicester (Director, International Futures Forum; formerly HM Diplomatic Service) and Maureen O’Hara (Prof of Psychology, National U, San Diego; President Emerita, Saybrook Graduate School). Axminster, Devon UK: Triarchy Press, 2009, 52p, $15pb. “The world we have created has outstripped our capacity to understand it.” The scale of interconnectivity has led to a step change in the complexity of the operating environment. These new conditions raise basic questions about our competence in governance, economy, sustainability, and consciousness. The IFF is an international group first convened in 2001 to come up with some touchstones of theory and practice to support a transformative response to today’s powerful times. Ten things to do: 1) design for transition to a new world like nothing we have known (today, “even the best educated are in over their heads”); 2) try other worldviews on for size (“living well in the new global context requires deep changes in consciousness,” connecting synthetic and analytic skills); 3) give up on the myth of control (accept complexity as an inevitable fact of modern life and relish diversity); 4) re-perceive the present (“we cannot hope to make perfect sense of the buzzing confusion around us, but we can do a much better job of finding our bearings”); 5) trust subjective experience (human systems are different, and we must see how the worldview of society is shifting from multiple directions); 6) take the long view (simple innovation is not enough; we need transformative innovation to a different future); 7) take insightful action (insight demands action, which in turn will bring something new into the world and encourage fresh insight); 8) form and support new organizational integrities (boundaries of organizations are dissolving as partnering, alliancing, outsourcing, and cross-cutting rise); 9) practice social acupuncture ( a small disturbance, artfully designed, can have large systemic effects); 10) sustain networks of hope (there is a lack of faith in the future worldwide; “somehow we must rekindle hope for a better life” in this “age of confusion”). Seven illustrative stories from the world of practice are provided, e.g. win-win UK solutions for energy and climate and UK rural community development. [NOTE: A fresh and provocative set of “values, attitudes and principles that will allow us to navigate challenges ahead.”] (METHODS * CONCEPTUAL EMERGENCY)
* The Future of Collective Beliefs. Gerald Bronner (Prof of Sociology, U of Strasbourg). Trans. By Peter Hamilton. Oxford UK: The Bardwell Press, Jan 2011, 200p, L65. Examines the social processes that perpetuate all types of strange and erroneous ideas, and the weird and wonderful domain of the cognitive market for ideas. We may think that scientific progress roots out the seeds of false belief; rather, “the advance of reason opens up new terrains on which the weeds of error can flourish,” in which reason leads us to the irrational. Thus our contemporary societies are characterized by “remarkable progress in science and technology, and a no less remarkable continuity of all sorts of beliefs.” The belief that collective beliefs will disappear was held in the 1960s by such sociologists as Daniel Bell, Seymour Lipset, Talcott Parsons, and Edward Shils, who thought it possible to predict the “end of political ideologies” in Western democracies. But this is “an implicitly optimistic and progressivistic representation of the history of human thought…this conception of things is in itself ideological and constitutes as soon as it is expressed the very negation of the idea that it puts forward.” [Note: Important and timely.] (SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY * METHODS * IRRATIONAL BELIEF)
* Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011. United Nations Settlements Program. London & Sterling VA: Earthscan (dist by Stylus), May 2011, 300p (9x12”), $ 59.95pb. This authoritative and up-to-date global assessment of human settlements conditions and trends addresses interactions between urban areas and the climate; analyzes contributions towns and cities make to climate change and impacts that climate change has on these often overcrowded and polluted places; and considers possible responses from different perspectives. (CITIES
AND CLIMATE CHANGE * CLIMATE CHANGE AND CITIES * HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: UN REPORT)
* Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly. John Kay (Prof, London School of Economics; fellow, St. John College, Oxford U). NY: Penguin, April 2011, 240p, $25.95. The first director of Oxford’s Said Business School notes dozens of examples from the world of business, politics, sports, science, and even parenting, suggesting that the best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal – from happiness to wealth to profit to preventing forest fires – is the indirect way. We rarely know enough about the intricacies of important problems to tackle them head-on. We can learn about our objectives and how to achieve them only through a gradual process of risk-taking and discovery, or “obliquity.” Companies whose goal is excellent products or service are more profitable than companies whose stated goal is increasing profits. Kay offers practical guidance for avoiding the traps laid by the direct approach to complex problems. Directness blinds us to new information that contradicts our presumptions and shunts us away from alternative solutions that may be better than the one we’re set on. (METHODS * “OBLIQUITY”)
ORGANIZATIONS * ORGANIZATION CHANGE * STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS LEADERSHIP)
* Tackling Wicked Problems: Through the Transdisciplinary Imagination. Edited by Valerie A. Brown, John A. Harris and Jacqueline A. Russell. London & Sterling VA: Earthscan (dist by Stylus), Aug 2010/256p/$57.95pb. Provides a framework to guide the design and conduct of open-ended inquiries. It combines academic disciplines with personal, local, and strategic understanding, requiring researchers to recognize multiple knowledge cultures, accept the inevitability of uncertainty, and clarify ethical positions of self and others. Authors comment on 15 case studies of opportunities and challenges of transdisciplinary inquiries.
(METHODS * TRANSDISCIPLINARY INQUIRIES * “WICKED PROBLEMS”)
* Future Intelligence and Sustainability: The Story of the Israeli Parliament’s Commission for Future Generations. Shlomo Shoham (former head, CFG). Gutensloh, Germany: Bertelsmann Foundation (dist. Brookings), April 2010, 350p, $49pb. The Commission for Future Generations, established by the Israeli Knesset in 2001, represents the needs, interests, and desires of those not yet born. Shoham shows how we can overcome the pitfalls of short-term thinking by developing our “future intelligence,” which is key to infusing public administration with visionary thinking and creative foresight. Articulates ways of conceptualizing and actively shaping future-oriented policies on education, health, environment, and economic development. (ISRAEL’S COMMISSION
FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS * FUTURE GENERATIONS COMMISSION IN ISRAEL * METHODS)
* Decisions in a Complex World: Building Foresight Capabilities. Edited by Aaron Low (Horizon Scanning Centre, NSCS; www.rahs.org.sg). Singapore: National Security Coordination Secretariat, March 2010/254p. Conference volume published in conjunction with the Third International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning Symposium, held March 2010 in Singapore. Topics include the differing approaches to strategic planning in the US and Singapore, six basic concepts of futures thinking by Sohail Inayatollah (the used future, the disowned future, alternative futures, aligning strategy with the bigger picture, the model of social change, and enhancing confidence to create futures), building an effective emerging issues program (by the Monitor Group), a futures map approach to building a comprehensive futures management system, difficulties of necessary horizon scanning (by Peter Bishop), maturity levels of horizon scanning, a systems view of extreme events, anticipating risks and threats in an era of uncertainty, counter-terrorism early warning, and deep futures.
(METHODS * FORESIGHT CAPABILITY * HORIZON SCANNING)
* Foresight for Smart Globalization: Accelerating and Enhancing Pro-Poor Development Opportunities (Special Issue). Edited by Clement Bezold (Chair, Institute for Alternative Futures, Alexandria VA), Claudia Juech (Managing Director of Research, Rockefeller Foundation, NYC) and Evan S. Michelson (Senior Research Associate, RF/NYC). Foresight, 11:4, 2009/85p (www.emeraldinsight.com); 36p Oct 09 IAF/RF Summary Report available free at www.altfutures.com. Papers from a March 2009 workshop held at the RF conference facilities in Bellagio, Italy. Topics include foresight and anticipatory governance (by Leon S. Fuerth, former advisor to Al Gore), pro-poor energy responses to climate change (e.g. targeted subsidies to shift consumption patterns, microfinance, integrated policy approaches), pro-poor applications of science and technology (on foresight studies by RAND, the Millennium Project, and the APEC Center for Technology Foresight), and resilient pro-poor economic governance. Recommends fostering national foresight capacity (foresight seen as “an important set of silo-busting tools” and as “systems thinking that forges paths for action while embracing complexity”), modeling inequity more explicitly, and large-scale participatory approaches. [Also see World Future Review, 1:6, 80-85 for long review of Summary Report.] (DEVELOPMENT * PRO-POOR DEVELOPMENT * FORESIGHT AND DEVELOPMENT * METHODS)
* Pitch Perfect: Communicating with Traditional and Social Media for Scholars, Researchers, and Academic Leaders. William Tyson (Morrison & Tyson Communications). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, May 2010, 176p, $19.95pb. A practical guide for scholars keen to communicate their knowledge and research to a wider public. On using traditional and digital media, and engaging with social media such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, and wikis. Tyson has advised scholars and academic leaders on media relations for >30 years. An appendix lists key media in North America, Australia, and the UK. (COMMUNICATIONS * EDUCATION * METHODS)
* Think Tanks: Catalysts for Democratization and Market Reform. James McGann (U of Pennsylvania). Global Institutions Series. Clifton, NJ: Routledge, Nov 2010, 160p, $29.95pb. On the current proliferation of think tanks and their future at the global, regional, and national level. Contends that think tanks can be a source of strength in an increasingly transnational and less Western-led world, and focuses on their ability to strengthen local capacity building and regional cooperation. (Further info at www.routledge.com/9780415779791.) (THINK TANKS * METHODS)
* Futures Research Methodology: Version 3.0. Edited by Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon. Washington: The Millennium Project, Aug 2009/c.1,300p CD/$49.50 (www.millennium-project.org). The 39 chapters cover such topics as introduction to futures research, environmental scanning, text mining, the Delphi method, real-time Delphi, the Futures Wheel, wild cards, systems perspectives, cross-impact analysis, relevance trees, scenario planning, participatory methods, vision in futures planning, chaos and non-linear dynamics, the multiple perspective concept, causal layered analysis, intuition and vision, and frontiers of futures research methods. (METHODS * FUTURES METHODS OVERVIEW)
** 2009 State of the Future. Jerome C. Glenn, Theodore J. Gordon, and Elizabeth Florescu (MP). Washington: The Millennium Project (www.millennium-project.org), Aug 2009/88p/$49.95 (includes 6,700p CD). The 13th report in an annual series, “intended to provide a context for global thinking and improved understanding of global issues,” gathering research and judgments of some 260 people in 32 Project Nodes worldwide. The main part of the Report offers two-page summaries of 15 Global Challenges: sustainable development and climate change, clean water, population/resources, democratization, long-term perspectives for policymaking, global convergence of IT, the rich-poor gap, health issues, capacity to decide, peace and conflict, status of women, transnational organized crime, energy, science/technology, and global ethics. Chapters also report on the 2009 State of the Future Index (an aggregation of 28 indicators), elements of the next global economic system over the next 20 years (e.g., new GDP definitions, a small tax to support the global commons, collective intelligence, new economic theory), real-time Delphi studies pioneered by Theodore Gordon, an overview of Futures Research Methodology—Version 3.0, and an update on emerging environmental security issues.
(WORLD FUTURES * METHODS)
** Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy. Sandra Mitchell (Prof of History and Philosophy of Science, U of Pittsburgh). U of Chicago Press, Dec 2009/176p/$27.50. Acknowledging complexity of the world requires appreciating the many roles context plays; the long-standing scientific deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal laws, linear causal models, and predict-and-act strategies fails to accommodate the kinds of knowledge that many sciences are providing about the world; rather, we need “integrative pluralism” to represent the many levels and kinds of explanation, so as to ground effective prediction and action. The very idea of what should count as legitimate science itself should change. (METHODS * SCIENCE * COMPLEXITY AND POLICY)
* Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely. Ian I. Mitroff (Emeritus Prof of Management, USC) and Abraham Silvers (formerly Cal State U-Los Angeles). Palo Alto CA: Stanford UP, Nov 2009/192p/$24.95. People and organizations make outrageous mistakes with intricate solutions to wrong problems; major institutions are critiqued for failing to define our most pressing problems; also shows why liberals and conservatives define problems differently, and how each is incomplete without the other. (METHODS)
* The Irrational Economist: Making Decisions in a Dangerous World. Edited by Erwann Michel-Kerjan (Managing Director, Wharton Risk Center, U of PA) and Paul Slovic (Prof of Psychology, U of Oregon; President, Decision Research). NY: Public Affairs, Jan 2010/288p/$24.95. Of the 20 most costly catastrophes since 1970, over half have occurred since 2001. A select group of scholars and innovators challenge the conventional wisdom about how to make the right decisions in the new era we have entered, underscoring the growing role and impact of economists and other social scientists as they guide our most important decisions. (METHODS * DECISION-MAKING IN 21C)
* Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World. Bob Johansen (Distinguished Fellow and former president, Institute for the Future). Berrett-Koehler, May 2009/288p/$26.95. Author of Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present draws on IFTF’s latest forecast to help leaders see connections in the larger systems of which they are a part, embrace shared assets and opportunities, and cut through the chaos to make a better future. Skills include dilemma-flipping (turning problems into opportunities), depolarizing tense situations, helping people from diverse cultures to work together, immersive learning, organizing smart mobs, and identifying what works and what doesn’t. (METHODS * LEADERSHIP)
* The Art of Quantum Planning: Lessons from Quantum Physics for Breakthrough Strategy, Innovation, and Leadership. Gerald Harris (Harris Planning and Strategy; member, Global Business Network). Foreword by Peter Schwartz (chair, GBN). Berrett-Koehler, Aug 2009/168p/$18.95pb. Seven concepts from the science of tiny particles are applied to the larger world, showing how they can pry open minds, spur creativity, and make the planning process far more effective, e.g. by breaking unhealthy groupthink and either-or thinking, avoiding old patterns, escaping narrow safe zones, and improving techniques for scenario analysis in an uncertain business environment.
(METHODS * PLANNING * QUANTUM PLANNING)