Connecting


July 2-3 people from around the world gathered for the World Culture Festival in Berlin for what seems like a powerful celebration of global diversity.

I was especially intrigued by the video just posted to give a glimpse into the group meditation by 70,000 people, focusing on world peace:

In this January 2011 study led by Sara Lazar of Mass General Hospital, the striking findings were that meditation changes not only your stress response, but also the very underlying structure of your brain–especially areas related to sense of self, stress, and empathy.

I can’t help but wonder what small-scale evolutionary steps we humans are taking when 70,000 of us meditate together.  In the big picture of the human project, what are we about here?

Are we using meditation to program our brains for world peace?

If so, what location should play host to the next gathering of 70,000?

After a woeful absence from blogging, *so many people* sent me the news about how the Pope is tweeting that it begged to be written about.  Here it is folks, from @News_va_en:

Though the Pope did apparently send *a* tweet, it doesn’t appear that he will be tweeting in any personal manner anytime soon.

It’s important to note the very real difference between the Pope tweeting once via News_va_en (an effort by the Vatican to leverage new media for communication, sharing, and outreach) versus frequently tweeting for himself.

The Tradeoffs of Personal Tweeting by Public Figures

When other intensely public figures–take US politicians for example–tweet as individuals, the feeling is different (that is, unless those figures actually have interns or PR people tweet “as them.”)  The candor, spontaneity, and authenticity of the person can shine through and endear them to you.

On the other hand, they also expose themselves in new ways, becoming vulnerable and increasing public scrutiny, as we’ve also seen recently with the @RepWeiner incident and more recently as President Obama has started to tweet occasionally using @barackobama.  His staff do most of the tweeting, but tweets from him will be signed -BO.

I am interested to watch how public figures–including religious leaders–will weigh this balance. How will they strengthen candor to connect with their community in authentic ways versus expose themselves to vulnerability.

Wanted to share this fascinating Harvard Business Review article about what our workplaces might learn from the power of ritual and the sense of abundance rituals can provide.

Photo via Flickr's Wade Rockett

A key excerpt of this piece by Peter Bregman, also outlined in the Atlantic Wire piece, “What the Business World Can Learn from Religion”:

Rituals are about paying attention. They’re about stopping for a moment and noticing what you’re about to do, what you’ve just done, or both. They’re about making the most of a particular moment. And that’s something we could use a lot more of in the business world.Imagine if we started each meeting with a recognition of the power of bringing a group of people together to collaborate and an intention to dedicate ourselves, without distraction, to achieving the goals of the meeting. Perhaps even an acknowledgement that each person’s views, goals, and priorities are important and need to be heard. Of course, that would require that every meeting have a clear goal, an agenda, and a purpose. But those are just nice side benefits.

What if every performance review began with a short thought about the importance of clear and open communication? If every time we worked on a spreadsheet someone else created for us, we paused to acknowledge the complexity of the work she did and the attention to detail she brought to it? If at the beginning of the day we paused to honor the work we are about to do and the people with whom we are about to do it?

A poem to feed us on the journey of Allons….

Up past the air we breathe
an intricate web hangs, fragile
as paired wings, its pattern invisible,
mercifully out of reach.

-by Carol Westberg in Slipstream

What can an engaged forecasting game do for my company?

This is a question I’ve heard a lot over the past couple of years.  Based on aggregated lessons from the corporate games of which I’ve been a part, below are 4 key insights from engaging with games in a corporate context:

1.  Dipping a toe in gaming = liberating!

Participants reported they appreciated dipping their toe in an online gaming platform.  Being given permission to engage with online scenarios, simulations, and ideation was liberating for some, especially if they were “closet gamers” in their current role and position in the organization.  At IFTF, we forecast that gaming will be a learning methodology and medium for the future, so future leaders need to find ways to grow in this capacity.

2.  Anonymity changes the dynamic

Players appreciated the anonymity that came with an online game–their player name could be “FutureCR8R” or “4sight” rather than “R_Hatch” or “ResearchManager.”  They felt freed to think outside of the hierarchical boundaries of their typical roles.  This was especially important in global companies who were playing the game across cultures.

There was a feeling of fewer limitations and more freedom; regardless of how shy or outgoing a particular person was, or what their role in the organization may be.  Some of the best insights come when a design person puts on an R&D lens, or when a materials expert thinks in terms of consumer insight or external relations.
3.  Lightweight interface lowers barriers

The lightweight interface of the Foresight Engine was essential.  For people who are busy and have lots of demands on their attention bandwidth, participants responded well to having a lightweight demand on their time.  Most of the games were 24 hours in duration, and we asked people to participate in two, 15-20 minute bursts…though many plays for hours on end.

4.  “I am not alone.”

Many participants said they were refreshed and found renewed energy when they played, because it helped them to realize that they are not alone…they are not the only one thinking about a particular topic, picking up on new signals in their local area that hint at a potential disruption, or innovation in the space.  For some, it encouraged their commitment to be change agents because they knew it wasn’t just their individual outlier idea, but rather that others were thinking divergently as well.

Below is a more in-depth description of the Foresight Engine, to give a sense of context:

IFTF’s Foresight Engine drives engaged forecasting. It creates a fast flow of micro-forecasts from hundreds or thousands of participants in just a day or two. It’s all about focused insights and innovation—the discovery of social wisdom and outlier ideas.

At the start of an engagement, forecasters from around the world get a quick video briefing on a future scenario.  Then they play cards: Twitter-length forecasts (140 characters or less) that represent their best thinking. They can start a chain of cards or they can build on cards that others play. It’s just what you’d expect from a Foresight Engine: rapid conversion of potential energy into ideas that can drive decisions.

Participants can track their favorite forecasters, watch the evolution of their ideas as others build on them, and monitor their standing in the leaderboard. They can create tags and follow forecasts that use those tags. In short, they can create their own personalized view on a fast-paced forecasting event.

Fun unlocks creativity – and that’s why game mechanics are also an important part of the Foresight Engine experience. Participants earn forecasting points for ideas that inspire conversation, and bonuses for moving the conversation in unexpected directions. Meanwhile, they unlock personal achievement badges, as they level up their own skills in future forecasting.

How will YOU use the Foresight Engine? You can use it to jump-start strategy, to find the brightest thought-leaders in your organization, to tap a worldwide audience and build a new global perspective. You can use IFTF’s Foresight Engine inside your organization for a strictly private affair or as a public platform for a wide-reaching, even global event. Whichever way you choose to use it, it can deliver all the benefits of engaged forecasting, bringing many voices to bear on your future.

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Note, also posted on the IFTF blog, FutureNow.

Michael Chorost‘s new book World Wide Mind:  The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet is in bookstores as of today.   The 5 minute video below describes his thesis:

The worldwide mind is the combination of humans & the internet acting together in concert.  The combination of the two yields a being which is more powerful than either in isolation.  That, I argue gives you the seed of an intelligence that neither has by its own.

Together with his last book (Rebuilt:  How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human), World Wide Mind shares Michael’s own personal story of living with a cochlear impant and how this positive augmentation adds a computational element to his life that in some ways changes who he is.

For more on Michael, see this IFTF Futurecast we did with him in November 2010, or this New York Times review of his work from yesterday.

Additional key points from Michael’s video:

  • worldwide mind is a coming global intelligence (with intentionality and consciousness of its own)
  • the internet by itself is not going to become intelligent
  • using technology with the body, you can make the connection part of your own internal bodily experience.
  • there is a new way to think about how technology & human relationships can be brought together.  Right now people think of these domains as mutually exclusive.  Chorost thinks there is a way to put these togehter with physical integration of humans and machines (as exemplified by his own personal experience of having a cochlear implant)
  • technology can be used to create more humane connections between people

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Note:  Also posted on the IFTF blog, FutureNow

In the next decade, everyone will be a media-maker.  The tools (especially digital ones) are increasingly accessible and the data (especially social media data) is abundant, so an emerging challenge will be curation.

Enter Storify, a start-up focused on helping you to create stories using social media.

Demo below:

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