Zen and the Art of Creating the Future

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I have been deeply interested in Zen since my late teens. When I moved to Japan in my late 20s, ultimately spending 3 ½ years there, the reasons included my fascination with Zen.

Soon after I arrived in Tokyo I found a Zen master, Nishijima-Sensei, who held weekly meditation sessions followed by lectures in English on Shobogenzo, the foundation text of Soto Zen.

Later I lived for a year in his Zen Dojo, commuting to my day job as a financial journalist, following the center’s principles of meditating twice a day and doing the daily chores that sustained the community, and taking the Soto Zen Buddhist precepts.

This time helped me resolve one of the issues I had grappled with since I had entered the workforce. Zen teaches us that the only thing that exists is the present. Yet if there is only the present, how and why should we work in the present to create the outcomes we desire in the future?

The answer is simple, though it took a long time for me to truly understand it.
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List of the world’s top female futurists (Update #3)

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[UPDATE: January 2018: We have added 9 additional futurists to the list for a total of 167. Thank you for your help building out the list!]

I find I am frequently asked where all the female futurists are. The discussion on why the profession of futurist appears to be so male-dominated has grown in recent years.

I know many outstanding female futurists, so whenever I am asked I point to a range of exceptional futurists to show that there are indeed many women in the field. However it is true that many are not as well known as they should be.

As such I thought it would be useful to compile a list of the world’s top female futurists, for those who are looking for diversity in their insights into the future. The following list, compiled with the help of my team member Vanessa Cartwright, provides a brief profile of 167 fabulous female futurists [up from 78 in the original list of September 2015, 143 in the update of November 2015, and 158 in the February 2017 revision].
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About getting predictions wrong as a futurist (and how to create the future you want)

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Over the years I have created a lot of content – books, reports, visual frameworks and far more – that has been very widely seen. From all this undoubtedly the one piece that has been the most visible globally is my Newspaper Extinction Timeline launched in October 2010, that predicted for each country in which year newspapers in their then-current form would become “insignificant”.

Newspaper_Timeline_front.gif
Coverage in over 100 major publications from more than 30 countries helped to garner many, many millions of views, attract critics galore, and generate substantial debate.
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Perverse market theory and the perversion of crypto-currencies

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I recently tweeted:

I was later asked for more information about perverse market theory, and after digging around I have drawn a blank. The term “perverse market” is usually used to refer to unintended or unanticipated market responses, but that is a different meaning from the one I referred to here.

Perhaps my memory fails me on the concept’s name (let me know if you can instruct me on this!), but the idea really struck me when I heard about it in my early career working in financial markets.

Do markets want to hurt people?

The idea of perverse market theory essentially anthropomorphizes the markets, attributing it intent, not dissimilarly to how Kevin Kelly describes directional behaviors in the development of technology in his book What Technology Wants.
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6 characteristics of education of the future and how credentials will change

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The Commonwealth Bank Jobs and Skills of the Future Report I wrote recently dug into how work and jobs are changing and what skills will be required. These shifts in work mean it is crystal clear that education must also change.

Below is an excerpt from the report giving a snapshot of some of the shifts needed in education:

Education of the Future

Looking further into the future of education, we may see a radical restructuring of how we learn, not just in schools and universities, but through our entire life. Classrooms will continue to exist, enhanced through the use of a wide range of new tools, technologies and methodologies. Education will also become an ongoing part of everyone’s lives, and embedded into our employment, helping us improve our skills and capabilities while we work.
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A practical strategy framework to drive useful action and high performance

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Last week I ran a three-day strategy workshop in Dubai for a group of senior executives who are marked as the next generation of leaders in a global professional services firm.

The heart of the workshop used scenario thinking to broaden their perspectives on change and strategic opportunity in their industry. We also wanted to provide a useful framework for the executives to develop and implement effective strategies for their respective country operations.

I was not able to find any strategy frameworks that were sufficiently relevant and pragmatic, so created a summary framework designed to be useful to any executives or entrepreneurs who need to develop practical, actionable strategies. I distilled the approaches and frames I have been successfully using for facilitating strategy development over the years with many executive groups, bringing it together into a succinct 6-step guide.

See below the diagram for a detailed explanation of the framework.

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The potential and dangers of the ‘autonomous economy’ where machines transact with machines

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Australia’s largest bank Commonwealth Bank has just released a very interesting white paper Welcome to the machine-to-machine economy, anticipating machines engaging in financial transactions with other machines or parties, for example hiring and paying for their own maintenance workers. This would require them to have their own bank accounts and payment systems.


Source: Commonwealth Bank
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“Inspiring and terrifying” perspectives on leadership for the future of work

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I was honored to recently give a Special Lecture at Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY, on Leadership for the Future of Work.

I discussed how in a world in which work is dramatically changing, we must all show leadership in taking the actions that will shape as positive a future as possible for society.

Two articles on my keynote captured some of the points I made.

A piece in The Statesman Keynote speaker Ross Dawson discusses the future of work noted:
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Visual network map of MegaTrends to 2050

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Futurist Richard Watson and I have collaborated for many years on client projects and visual frameworks, including Trend Blend 2007, over a decade ago sparking the trend for using subway maps to display trends and their intersections.

Richard is still at it, having recently created a massive visual exploration based on the London train network of MegaTrends out to 2050.

Click on the image to see the high resolution version – you need to spend time on this to discover the details.

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Our education systems must focus on developing underlying human capabilities, not just knowledge and skills

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It is absolutely clear that better, broader education will be essential in creating a positive future of work. However we still need to work out precisely what is the education that will be most relevant for tomorrow’s world. Read more