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Hawai’i’s Shared Futures By Vision Foresight Strategy

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

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


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