Hawai’i’s Shared Futures By Vision Foresight Strategy

Good strategy sessions

Aloha kakahiaka, everyone.  We spent the last couple of days running a strategy session for a client and had the opportunity to help with what turned out to be some very good conversations about their purpose, customers, and unique approach to creating value.  It was a very productive and useful two days and today we’ll be drafting up the first iteration of the strategy map.  It is often interesting to help with these conversations because it can really drive home that, quite frankly, most organizations are so focused on meeting crises and fighting fires that they themselves don’t have many opportunities to sketch a bigger picture for each other and reconnect with each other on basic beliefs, priorities, and ideas for shaping positive change across the organization.

And just as a tidbit, I came across the following document that comes recommended as an excellent introduction and overview of the current financial crisis.


Filed under: Economics, Strategy, ,

Busy day plotting strategy

Good (early) morning, folks!  Today’s going to be another busy day, but while yesterday was chock full of more tasks than you could shake a fist at, today is full of meetings in which we’ll be helping to map out some high scale strategies.  We’re meeting with a couple of different groups today to discuss some new project ideas, and one of them deals with what I’ve taken to calling the “garage video” industry.  We’ll actually be looking at establishing an ecosystem of companies to develop a wider array of businesses and jobs within a couple of key industry sectors.  It’s yet early in the planning, but we’re all pretty excited.  In conjunction with this, we’ll be seeing if we can get our hands on some reliable and explanatory data on the current local economy and the array of business development policies that exist today.  We might ultimately be mapping out a high scale “strategy”; really articulating what is probably a disjointed collection of programs and policies.

Later today we’ll be entering into another session of our Energy Working Group that came out of last year’s Summit.  Today’s session ought to be fairly productive with some decisions on near-term deliverables.  The purpose of the group is to promote a clean energy future for Hawai’i, and we are at the point of articulating a clear and simple strategy for this year and linking that to some success objectives.  For anyone interested check out SummitNet.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Business, Economics, Energy, Summit

Admin day

‘Ano’ai everyone.  Today is the first day back to work after a long weekend and it looks like it’s going to be a very full day cranking out admin tasks and catching up on those small ‘wrap-up’ things that always hound you!  The task list is long, but the spirit is roaring today!

One thought though, before I get back to our work.  Over the weekend we were having conversations about the economic stimulus coming down from the feds.  Recent articles and blog posts have of course questioned the efficacy of this package, and of the strategies in general.  It got us to thinking, if you took the viewpoint of the average person or a small business owner, what is the single most important thing that could help in the next 6 – 12 months?  Interest rate reductions, tax breaks, cash payment… what?  The question is essentially: what strategies would do the most direct good to the greatest number of Americans?  Amid all the press coverage of homelessness and job loss, we cannot help but wonder if there shouldn’t be an entirely different approach to mapping out strategies for 2009.

We’re going to keep talking about this.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Economics,

Another talk with Nassim Taleb on Risk and the Crisis

Morning everyone.  Yesterday we had a wonderful working session in the morning on the nonprofit future; I daresay we may have genuinely innovated for nonprofits in Hawai’i.  The project is moving along as it should and we expect it to be ready on time at the end of the month.  It’s challenging scenario we’re creating for nonprofits, but if they get the message, it should be a very useful wake-up call for them to innovate and begin to think strategically rather than just operationally.

Below is another video including Nassim Taleb of the The Black Swan, this time with Daniel Kahneman.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Economics, Human Nature, scenarios, ,

Looking for survival, and ultimately, growth

Morgen, folks.  A tad slower on the boot-up this morning, but the caffeine is beginning to kick in!

One of the things that we’ve been noticing in working on several different projects with a variety of different decision makers and thought leaders locally is an interesting confluence: on the one hand many people, decision makers included, are concluding that we (Hawai’i, the US, the world) need some transformative change and now actually have a small window of opportunity.  They are looking for it, but like many of us, the breadth and scale of the issues interacting to create our current immediate crises and longer-term vulnerabilities is overwhelming from an analytic standpoint.  It’s just hard to make sense of things and figure out what actions might really lead to successful systemic change.

At the same time, first- and second-hand feedback seems to show that people all over the place are hungering for, dare I say it, vision.  And not the airy-fairy vision statements most organizations and communities make, and not vague statements of purpose or topic, but a truly compelling vision of clarity and breakthrough thinking.  People do want hope and they do want (need) something to believe in, especially in these times.  But as has been shown the last several years, particulary in Hawai’i, such clear and compelling vision has been absent, from the government, from business, and from community.  We’ve gotten good at our ‘politics of protest’ and striking out after what we in narrowly defined groups want to protect, but we’ve either lost or abandoned our capacity for creating and articulating a collective vision.

And right now, from the vaunted World Economic Forum in Davos, to the communities and meeting rooms here in Hawai’i, people sense there is a short window of opportunity for meaningful change and they are looking for the clarity and foresight that might lead them through it.

Along these lines you might check out a number of recent articles and postings all relating to this, but this morning a couple in particular would be good:

  • Robert Scoble writes about the lack of focus on supporting small business through our various economic recovery plans
  • and Scoble notes small business owner Andrew Field who offered a new plan for bringing the economic stimulus straight to small businesses in a form they need
  • and the NYT Magazine has an interesting article on the economy and economic recovery
  • and an interesting visualization of the economic stimulus plan

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Business, Change, Economics, Vision, ,

Crossing Wednesday and the economic stimulus

Good morning, everyone. Today we’re looking at a split schedule, which works very well some days, and unfortunately not so well others. I myself will be working on my paper this morning, further drafting elements of my political design framework, incorporating lines of thought from classic political science, public administration, and futures studies. Hopefully, the resulting building blocks will be properly futures-oriented and practical enough that future designers will have a good springboard from which to launch.

This afternoon we’ll be working more on the website project more, and while getting this relatively straightforward site up and running quickly can be a challenge, the long-term potential for the site as a core of a larger system of sites and applications designed to support greater civic engagement is actually very exciting (especially for a political scientist like me). Again, if anyone knows of any good ‘civic media’ sites, sites (and applications) designed to support civic participation and engagement, please let us know.

And here’s an interesting article, a preview from the NYT Magazine about the economic stimulus and a variety of takes on economic growth, recovery, and issues related to our economic performance.

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Civic Media, Economics, Governance, Hawai'i

The week starts in education and economic stimulus

Aloha kakahiaka, folks.  Last night I had a surprisingly good time at a special awards event, where I got to meet President Obama’s sister.  Like just about any event, what really made it good was the people you got to connect with, and last night was wonderful in that respect.  But I can tell you that, based on conversations list night, the future will bring some interesting and provocative events.  Cool.

The week looks like it will kick off with a special session we’re involved in looking at the future of education.  We’re prepping for this today, and we expect another very interesting discussion drawing in several views about what the priorities are and how we can address change.  Much of the rest of the week will be devoted to getting the website project rolling at full speed.  This is cool little project, and as soon as the beta is ready, we’ll be blasting it out to everyone.  I think you’ll be interested in the possibilities.  We’ve appreciated all of the suggestions for web developers and connections to people interested in larger civic engagement.  Mahalo.

And we came across this post this morning and thought people would be interested in another look at how economic stimulus money will be allocated across the states in the union.  It looks like we’ll be receivng the lowest category (no surprise), less than $5 billion.  According to the map, we look to get $2.33 B, with 10.58% going to balancing the state budget.

Filed under: Economics, Education, ,

Intersecting dissertations and futures work

As many of you know, even as the company is working on a variety of futures and strategy projects with various clients and partners in Hawaii, I myself am continually working on my dissertation.  And during this semester my week gets chopped up into days for dissertation writing and days devoted to working on things like mapping out present and future states of subjects like economic industries and energy infrastructure.  Some days, like today, you get pulled in two directions: wanting to crank on projects for clients, which are very interesting questions; and needing to focus on deep thoughtful dives into topics like ‘how consitutionalism gets redifined in the emerging global era.’  Tough, but never dull!

Well, today (first thing this morning) we’ll be doing our final roundup for possible developers for our web project, and I think we’ll have some new mock-ups for tomorrow.  But before getting that done, we were doing our early morning futures scanning (it’s like breathing for futurists), and we came across another interesting hit: a video of Dan Ariely, who recently wrote Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. Mr. Ariely is a behavioral economist, a relatively new area of economics that has been trying to understand human behavior based on actual experience and observation rather than elegant assumptions (as in traditional economics).  We find it very useful in our work, and I find it useful in my academic work.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is an interesting video exploring how people make decisions and behave, but the funniest thing (for me at least!) was some of his comments in the very beginning, where people are telling him he needs to publish his work first before he can go and publish other things.  It’s a refrain I’ve heard a lot in the last few months as professors, partners, and friends have all pushed for my dissertation to be the first priority even over our client work.  Well, the end, at least, is actually in sight!

Think about tomorrow.

Filed under: Economics, Human Nature,

Ireland by-the-numbers

Here’s a really interesting presentation of the current economic situation in Ireland, another place hard-hit by the global financial and economic situation.  Visual and broad, it does a really interesting job of presenting an array of data in a very short presentation to give audience members a sense of everything that is being affected.

I’d like to see something like this for our local situation and data points.

Anyone seen anything like this recently?

Filed under: Economics

Virtual Economies

This arstechnica article on the IRS being urged to tax activities in virtual worlds once again reminds us that when it comes to diversifying the economy, there are many ways to do that.  We normally talk about the economy in terms of major sectors like ‘construction’ or singular pillar industries like ‘tourism,’ but the economy is actually a very complex and dynamic thing, and our traditional focus on single shot cures for both short term recovery and long-term growth are likely to fall short of either hope.

There are leading-edge theories about economic growth that posit that our modern, post-industrial economies grow through the development of new technologies and the changes those new capabilities provoke in how we do work and how we produce value.  At the industry and organizational level, we would then be looking at how businesses evolve through applying new technologies and reorganizing themselves around those technologies, not just for greater efficiencies but also to produce new things of value.  Broad change and evolution in economies then is not achieved simply through a government stimulus package or by simply dumping money into public works projects, but more likely through consistent support of new R&D, new businesses, and lots of experimentation.

For Hawai’i, one has to wonder how many different (and new) areas of entrepreneurship and experimentation we should be open to and supportive.  No one really nows what ‘virtual’ economies (which actually are real economies for intangible goods) could become for Hawai’i, but for a place with geographic isolation, multi-cultural populations, and reasonable tech infrastructure, maybe more of us should be looking at developing and growing creative new online economies.

Filed under: Business, Economics, Hawai'i, Technology, Wealth

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.

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