Hawai’i’s Shared Futures By Vision Foresight Strategy

The Reboot, Speakers, and Human Nature

Good Morning, all.  Diving back into Summit planning today, going over our roster of speakers for the Reboot and wrestling with the fun logistical details like venue, menus, and costs.  Oh what fun.  But also spending a little attention on our very cool set up for Day 2, which our participants will really enjoy and from which they will derive important insights.  Intrigued?  Register!  Well, it’s a bit early for our registration process (the online services aren’t turned on yet), but please visit SummitNet and sign up to be included.

Speaking of the Reboot, we’re building our list of possible dynamic speakers for the Summit.  Engaging speakers with truly innovative ideas, concepts, or thinking, in relation mainly to the areas of Hawai’i’s economy, education, and infrastructure.  And individuals who can present in 20 minutes!  Got any suggestions?  Please let us know.

Human Nature

Here’s a few minutes of discussion by renowned psychologist Steven Pinker speaking on human nature and his specialty, language.  Check it out.


Think about tomorrow.


Filed under: Human Nature, Summit,

Rethinking the visitor experience

Aloha kakahiaka, everyone.  Hope Wednesday morning is treating everyone well!  This morning we’re working further on the Reboot and our presentation for it.  Working with some futures colleagues, Day 2 of the Reboot is shaping up to be a very cool experience, one that will likely really shake up participant assumptions about how Hawai’i works and about how it could work.  Very cool stuff.

Later this morning we’ll be working on some pieces to build a new foresight framework for workforce and workforce development for Hawaii, an interesting challenge given many of the assumptions and the focus currently found in that arena.  Choosing a particular approach when constructing a new framework is always fun but also tricky: will ‘reframing’ history set them free to think new thoughts?; will a collection of emerging possibilities energize them?; or do you have to completely deconstruct their ‘worldview’ to effectively shake them up?

The Visitor Experience

A couple of weeks ago we helped with a discussion hosted by NaHHA about the visitor industry, culture, and opportunities.  Attended by some very cool folks, it was an interesting discussion about what, among other things, the visitor industry could look like in the future.  Just afterward, I was on Maui and had a range of experiences that had me reflect even further on the earlier discussions.  From staying at a resort in Makena, to camping in Ke’anae and hanging out at the Hana Taro Festival, to staying in Kahului and eating at IHOP (and vacillating on picking up Krispy Kremes [will power won the day]), it was an interesting compare/contrast.

It occurred to me that, among the many ways people and professionals frame the visitor/hospitality industry, one way is to simply consider the amount of content of the ‘everyday’ that makes up the visitor experience (via their accommodations).  It’s a question of how much the visitor accommodations (the hotel) is interwoven into the lives of local communities and thus how much the real, everyday culture of local communities is intended to shape and make the visitor experience.

At its most basic, a hotel is just a place to sleep when traveling away from home, apartments for the traveler.  Motels are the best examples, designed for people to drive up, sleep, get up, and drive on.  No frills, little mess.  There’s always a need for basic hotels, and given some of the possible futures for Hawai’i around developing new industries and becoming a global center for emerging technologies, we may need a reinvestment in this basic infrastructure.  Here, the content of the everyday within the hotel is minimal, or at best unconscious.  The everyday life and culture of the local community is picked up when they walk out the door and into the community, which they are expected to be doing, whether to attend business meetings, visit relatives, or explore.  Visitors are not meant to stay inside.

But things change, and over the years people have built resorts, which are increasingly self-contained experiences, providing a prepackaged, complete range of services.  The resort in this sense is actually a retreat, it’s intended to be an unusual, unreal place, that is, a place that doesn’t exist in everyday life.  It’s designed for people to escape from the mundane and everyday, and thus they’re typically located in environmentally unusual and beautiful places.  The retreat is intentionally walled off from the content of the everyday that is found in neighboring local communities.  And this why, when such retreats want to expose their visitors to this local content, whatever it might be, they have to import it into the retreat, staging it in ways that are typically unusual and unnatural, ways that typically don’t manifest in the everyday of local life.  And retreats, in and of themselves, aren’t necessarily bad.  In fact, all cultures and peoples feature variations of retreats, often in physical form.  But today’s retreats as found in the visitor industry take on an industrial scale and commercial character that reverberates through localities with unintentional and undesirable results.

Given this, it’s possible to see how the content of the everyday, that is, the everyday real culture of a place can be a fundamental part of of the visitor experience, and specifically through the physical reality of their very accommodations.  Back in 1999, we wrote a short piece called “Experience Hawai’i” which was a thought piece on what a new type of hotel would look like and how it would operate.  While parts of it are certainly dated (the idea of pervasive high speed internet access was novel back then!), much of it retains its relevance for our current discussions about the visitor industry and the visitor experience.  One of the things that made it an exciting piece to work on was that it placed the physical environment and the local community in the position as the primary ‘customer,’ with the visitors as a secondary component.

“Experience Hawai’i” is merely an example of what can be seen as a different set of interactions and experiences between visitors and local everyday culture.  In essence, you have to look at the challenge as one of designing a structure that is built around the everyday, a place that is interwoven into and is a functioning part of local communities.  It is a place that is intended to support living culture, the everyday activities and priorities of people.  And into this you design the capacity for visitors and the accomodation for them to move through and participate in the living, everday culture of the place.  While perhaps an inelegant analogy, such places would be like very vibrant community centers that are designed with the hospitality to accept eager and sincere visitors.

It might not be simple to create such places, but the rewards and benefits of successfully building them would be manifold and ripple across generations.  If the real culture of our communities here is really what visitors want to experience, and not just the beaches and warm weather, then this would seem to be a good new framework to discuss.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Built Environment, Culture, Hawai'i

Culture and the Futures of Hawai’i

Aloha kakahiaka, everyone.  I hope everyone had a great weekend; we certainly did!  Today we’re catching up on updating some tactical plans for a client and then we’ll be working on more original writing and presentations, namely the nonprofit futures project and working further on a Summit presentation.

Over the weekend we helped a client facilitate a session they had discussing culture, tourism, and ideas and issues related to marketing (with some emphasis on the visitor industry).  Coming away from the event, it got us thinking more about the broader issues surrounding ‘culture’ and different possible futures for Hawai’i.

Culture is a very interesting, and I think, challenging concept, particularly the way it is used in most conversations.  It is a contested and often ambiguous idea, and yet people often refer to ‘culture’ as an object, like the great black monolith in the classic movie “2001,” something that we are given and something that we point to as if it were a concrete, tangible thing.  It is also often referred to as a sacred, inviolate object, much like the monolith.

The problem is that the things that we are trying to reference with the term ‘culture’ are much more fluid than that.  From the also-ambiguous term ‘worldview’ to beliefs to practices to values, culture is always changing; and it’s supposed to.  Human life today is the result of a great co-evolution: that between biology and culture, each affecting the other.  Humans are the result of a long biological history on this planet.  That biological evolution has in essence primed us for a hunter-gather lifestyle, a mode of living which represents 99% of human history.  It is only in the last 1% of our shared history that we come into both agrarian and industrial lifestyles, where cities were born 5000 years ago, and where the cell phone emerges as a tool of communication.

In this context, the ‘culture’ that we all think of when we employ the term and the ‘cutlures’ that we normally revere, are what humans have been evolving in just the last few thousand years in order to innovate beyond our biology and adapt to a variety of habitats and situations for which our biology has not had time to adapt.  In comparison to biological evolution, which is usually very slow and largely undirected, our cultural evolution can happen very quickly and can spread very quickly.

Because culture (which for the moment we’ll look at as innovation we evolve to overcome what biology cannot) can evolve so quickly and spread across populations so quickly, we increasingly have a world in which the classic western academic notion of singular monolithic cultural identities is fading.  Increasingly we have individuals whose individual cultural fabric is composed of threads from many sources.  Humans adopt and adapt beliefs, outlooks, values, and practices from all of their experiences, and as globalization (read: integration) proceeds, more and more people are adopting those cultural ‘innovations’ that they feel will help them succeed ( in the broadest sense) in life.  Increasingly, people have multiple identities and complex, beautiful individual cultural fabrics, a uniquely tailored weave of innovations that allow them to move through the varied spaces of 21st century life and adapt to the expanding range of challenges confronting them on local, regional, and global levels.

Culture is innovation, it is an adaptation that allows us to overcome the limits of biology and to adapt to the world when it would otherwise take our biological evolution far too long to respond.  Classic monolithic culture and singular identities can be taken for granted when life and society presents us with a relatively stable and unchanging environment.  But in a world of interaction, exchange, and constant challenge, our strength will come from having both a diversity of cultures to draw upon as well as a much more nuanced view of individual culture and identity.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Culture, Human Nature, Identity

Hawai’i: the Reboot

Aloha kakahiaka.  Last night we had a great Summit Pau Hana at Pearl Lounge in Ala Moana.  We were able to really introduce people to this year’s theme and program:

Hawai’i: the Reboot.
2 days.  200 innovators.  A new future for Hawai’i.

Great thinkers, new ideas, and people making systemic change.

We came up with several good ideas for this fall’s Summit, tossing around names of provocative and inspiring speakers for Day 1 and wrestling with the question of how to arm attendees with whatever it is they can use to take their good ideas back to work.  We’re going to have a Summit Pau Hana once a month right on up to the Summit in October.  A monday after work, cool location, drinks, and really intelligent company.  We’ll be talking about the Summit and discussing the three main (interrelated) topics: education, 21st century infrastructure, and the economy.

We can also announce that Pono Shim, founder of Concierge Services at Ward, will be one of our featured speakers at the Summit.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Summit

Debunking Bailout Myths and Assessing Our Economic Futures

‘Ano’ai all. We’ve got a fairly full Friday, working with a number of different clients and colleagues on active projects.  This morning we’ll be working with a financial expert colleague of ours on ‘bailout myths,’ drafting a short informative piece on what really has occurred and what is going on with different firms right now.  In that piece we’ll also be taking a look at Hawai’i’s financial futures, at least in a framework-sort of way.  Look for this piece soon.

We’ll also be working today on some client strategy, conducting another short session with them to draft their core organizational strategy and hopefully start talking about metrics and even tactics.  You never know with clients: when you expect something to go quickly, it takes a while, and when you expect some real challenges, things sail on through.  Always dynamic and different!

And we’re very pleased to announced that Jeff Piontek, head of the Hawai’i Technology Academy charter school here on O’ahu will be one of our featured presenters at “Hawai’i: the Reboot,” our 2009 Summit this fall (October 16 and 17).

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Summit,

Juggling Strategies and Ideas

Good Morning.  This morning we’re going to be polishing a presentation for a client that we’ll be delivering next month.  The presentation attempts to give the audience a bigger picture and longer view perspective of the current economic situation, a larger context within which to consider the programs being proposed.  Afterward, we’ll be spending more time working on our Five Technologies piece, trying to get the tone and imagery right before moving it along to share it with everyone.  This afternoon we’ve got a meeting/presentation with a client to walk some of their staff through some draft strategy material we’ve been working on.  Finally, later tonight I’ll be helping a colleague critique student business plans, something that never fails to entertain!

And we continue to work on contacting presenters for the Summit, and are moving closer to finalizing a date and location and firming up the program.  In all, though, it promises to be a very provocative event!

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Upgrading the System

Guten Morgen.  This morning we’re going through the laborious process of upgrading all of our security software, and while we might gain some peace of mind later today, for right now it’s destroying any productivity in the office!

A little bit later we’ll be working once again on the upcoming piece on technological drivers for Hawai’i’s futures.  It can be difficult to get decision makers to focus on a longer term view just now, but these technologies have the potential to significantly change the social and physical landscape in Hawai’i, and in reality most decision makers know little-to-nothing about them.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Planning 101

Aloha kakahiaka.  While many are probably lamenting the double blow of a Monday morning and the first day back from spring break, we’re actually looking forward to today.  We’re editing some client strategy this morning as well as working on a new short piece, “Five Technologies Rewiring Society.”  Today also has a fair amount of ‘catch-up’ work going on this afternoon.  But the end of last week and this past weekend were excellent days and turned up some great discussions and connections for our work and for this year’s Summit, which we can announce is now themed: “Hawai’i: the Reboot.”  While we will be posting updates here and on our Facebook page, you can also check out specific news at SummitNet.

And we’re happy to announce a new short piece on planning: “Six Questions to Ask About Planning.”  It’s a quick diagnostic for organizations, a sort of ‘safety check’ for their plans and planning process.  Enjoy.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Planning, Summit

Extracting Lessons from the Economic Crisis

Morning, folks! This morning’s post is really simple enough: we’re working this morning on building some new framework pieces for the upcoming Hawai’i Futures Index.  Cool stuff, but always a challenge to create something that is both intellectually rigorous but also speaks directly to the things about Hawai’i’s future that our decision makers and community leaders really care about.  If it’s important enough to do, then it’s probably challenging!

But on the planning front, we can already start to extract some planning and strategy lessons from the current financial crisis and economic downturn.  While the following is not actually a new idea for strategic thinking, it’s one of those ideas that gets completely lost during our long periods of economic expansion.

Basically, let’s look at the first of what we call Standing Scenarios: very simple, almost generic yet challenging situations that we use on a regular basis to “wind tunnel” an organization, its assumptions, and its strategy.  We also use Standing Scenarios to remind clients of basic uncertainty and bring their attention back to a longer-term view of their actions and assumptions.

So, the current crisis gives us the Sudden Falloff scenario: sales/revenue falls off unexpectedly by 25% in one year, and then by a further 50% the second year.  Simple, brutal.  The first question is: what does this mean for you, what are your reactions to it, and what are your priorities?  The second question is: what are all of the plausible (not probable, but plausible) series of events and interactions out there in the world that could have produced this?

When was the last time your organization played some of these scenarios?

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: foresight, Planning, scenarios, Strategy, Summit,

Futures Index and Social Media in Education

Good Morning, everyone.  Well, now that we’re getting our writing projects back on track and reorganzined, and particularly because we’ve entered a first full swing in Summit 2009 planning, today we’re working once again on the Hawai’i Futures Index.  Meant to be something of a issues barometer and set of indicators for Hawai’i’s desired futures, we survey the attendees to the Summit each year and then build the Index up from there.  A challenge is staying away from the typical ideas about what to track, like visitor stays and construction permits, and build a set of indicators that really taps into the issues that decision makers and thought leaders care about that relate to the futures they actually desire.  And, being futurists, we need a broader and more nuanced (foresightful) set of relationships and impacts to consider, again, beyond just the traditional, “what is California and Japan’s economy doing?”

Also, we want to put a shout out for the new book out by Jeff Piontek (head of the charter school Hawai’i Technology Academy).  We toured the school yesterday (in my old stomping grounds of Waipahu) and their tools and approach are simply fascinating and impressive.  Jeff will also be one of our speakers at this year’s Summit.

His new book is Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts, Oh, My! And please note that the Amazon info on publication date and availability is wrong: the book was just published and is actually in print.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Education, futures, Hawai'i, Summit

Hawai’i: the Reboot

2 days. 200 innovators. A new future for Hawai'i.

The Hawai'i Futures Summit 2009 October 16 and 17, 2009


Vision Foresight Strategy

We work with organizations to anticipate strategic change and to craft the strategies that will shape their desired futures.

To learn more about how we can help you, visit www.kikilo.biz


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