Carnegie 2.0: Re-inventing Communities

Just when some pundits were announcing the demise of the public library, and politicians are trying to defund them, libraries are undergoing a major revival as centers of community re-invention.

You can call it Carnegie 2.0.

It is 88 years since the last library was built with funds from Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, but the spirit of helping communities thrive is alive and well across the United State of America.
Altogether, 2,509 libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, most of them in America (1,689,but others in UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France and half a dozen other countries.

Cuts to library budgets seems to be a bi-partisan effort. For example, in 2010 New Jersey Governor Christie slashed funding for libraries soon after becoming governor in 2010. In the same year, Newark Mayor, now Senator Corey Booker, cut the budget of the city’s library by 20% when be first became mayor.

It is not all books anymore, although they are not going out of fashion. And googling stuff is no longer reliable, as the Internet is fast becoming a place for “alternative facts”, which are not facts at all.

Libraries are fast becoming the go-to place for:
  • Starting a new project or business, creating a new product or service, or making things
  • Building a resume and finding a job
  • Checking out community talent in the same way you check out a book or a movie
  • Acquiring skills and knowledge, packaged up in smaller chunks, just when you need it
  • Offering internships for community projects
  • Enjoying edutainment for toddlers, children, teens and adults
  • Critical community conversations
  • Meeting and socializing with others
  • Working with your tutor or mentor

The new roles for librarians are:

  • Honest brokers between a rapidly expanding number of disciplines, each with its own specialist language, ways of seeing the world, and growing distrust of other models/frameworks
  • Validators of knowledge of vital importance to communities and organizations who wish to make good decisions
  • Facilitators of crucial conversations between a diverse range of interests, particularly in community decision making and planning, policy making, and implementation
  • Curators of new and ever more diverse collections, including tools, methods, processes, systems and talents.
  • Mentors, so curation, categorizing and research become skills that everyone routinely uses.
  • Trusted partners, helping people and their organizations build the capacity for the wise application of knowledge, so they become much more than “learning organizations”.
  • Conveners for meetings, events, exhibits, safer refuge in emergencies, making and designing.
  • Community systems integrators, connecting organizations and talents in the community, and employing their skills and resources to help their people adapt successfully to change.
Here is an example of the kinds of far-sighted approach that libraries are adopting. It is two version of the strategic plan Maverick & Boutique developed for the Cozby Public Library and Community Commons in Coppell, Texas – the  Cozby Library Slide Show and the Cozby Library Strategic Plan. It is a major part of our consulting practice, currently averaging 4-5 plans a year. We use our own collaborative technology – Zing – shown in the image above to help conduct the community conversations, to achieve the “join in” necessary for the projects our clients  to develop to fact-track community-wide change.

“Join in” instead of “buy in”

I-86 meeting

In our work in economic development and complex project management, we often encounter failed projects and programs, that came to grief due to community opposition to the proposals, and which we are sometimes asked to  resuscitate.

One of the causes of failure is the long standing engineering practice of first designing a project and then trying to “sell” it to the community.

This is why many new critically important infrastructure projects don’t get done, and the whole community ends up paying for it in increased costs and greater inefficiencies. The extra costs are often not immediately obvious until a factory closes because it is not competitive, an environmental mishap endangers lives, or an infrastructure failure disrupts commerce.

The conventional approach to designing and selling projects has been around forever, and you will find the “achieve stakeholder buy-in” in almost every request for proposal.

Instead, we use an approach called “strategic doing” which involves key stakeholders in the process of creating projects or sub-projects connected to the main project. The projects become part of a ecosystem of synergistic/self-supporting activities.

People agree to proceed with the cluster of projects — including the main project — because they have an interest or stake in the outcome. They also get to have a say in the design.

When we approach projects this way, the opposition to projects evaporates because the projects, are designed to benefit all stakeholders, are more meaningful and relevant. Rough edges are removed that would otherwise be a sources of irritation or dissatisfaction.

We adopted this “join in” approach on a recent strategic planning project for two counties — Steuben and Chemung –along the I-86 corridor in Western New York  and their seven municipalities bookended by Corning and Elmira.

We worked with 70 or so local government, community and business leaders in two sets of highly intensive three day workshop sessions just three weeks apart, to design some 50 projects to achieve their goals of developing an “innovation corridor” and simultaneously creating a more vibrant community.

The region was successful, along with the Binghamton area (known collectively as the Southern Tier), in securing one of two $500 million investments by the State of New York, in competition with other regions across the State.

We also spent a  considerable amount of time helping our client develop a governance strategy. How do you set up a multiplicity of projects for success, each with a multiplicity of different stakeholders interests?

For a start, you need a project manager at the core that can see the big picture and is determined to get things done, to work closely with each of the project teams, just as you do with complex major projects or systems of systems engineering projects. You also need the owners of each of the community sub-projects to have both a degree of autonomy for decision making but also responsibility to the greater whole. This demand clear set of rules of engagement about how each of the project teams will  coordinate with others, including a requirement to report progress to the project manager, or to seek help when difficulties are encountered.. It’s a kind of community systems-of-systems economic and community development approach.

Naturally, we have used our knowledge of how to run complex major projects, to help our community clients successfully handle the big and the complex.

Here’s a link in the a case study in the Systems Engineering Book of Knowledge about some of our methods.

The kinds of questions we ask about governance issues include:

Resources: What human, physical, financial, knowledge, support, temperaments and other resources will you need to undertake this project, who owns or has control of them, and how could you acquire them?
Optimal outcome: What is the ideal outcome from this project? What does “success” look like?
Structure: What structure will you adopt for the project that will ensure that those responsible for carrying out the project report to all key stakeholders, rather than a select or influential few?
Ownership: Who is the ultimate owner of the project and how might you obtain their support and commitment?
Mobilizing: How can we tap into the passions of people so they not only support the project, but actively help to win support for its political acceptance and implementation?
Commitment: How will we foster a sense of ownership and or “join in” so people unite behind a decision?
Hearing and acting on concerns: How do we provide greater certainty for quietly harboring doubts? In situations where consensus is not possible, how do we ensure that all voices have been heard OR people feel heard? How will we act on concerns?
Attention to results: How can we balance the needs/outcomes for the individual, the community and the organization?
Sustainability: How will we ensure that the changes that occur as a result of implementing this project will be adopted and sustained, beyond our tenure or involvement in the process?
Accountability: How can we go about flagging unacceptable behavior and actions when it may have serious repercussions/downsides for the project or the community?
Governance Innovation: How will we know when the system we set up to govern the project is not working (is not meeting the needs of the stakeholders)? How should we plan to renegotiate the way the project is managed to ensure success?


Missing: A Good Model of the System

patterns in paradigms 2

Two hugely influential leaders in economic affairs, on opposite sides of the planet seem to be lacking a good model of the system to help us navigate more successfully to a brighter fiscal future.

Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, was honest enough to say he did not have a good model of the macro economic changes that were occurring the world as a result of technological change, and doubted if anyone else did.

Down Under, in Australia, a country that has successfully weathered the global financial crisis better than most, the Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, is presiding over an economy heading south at a great rate of knots due primarily to some major fumbles on his part.

Hockey is responsible for setting economic policy directions for the country. This week he proclaimed in Parliament that the opportunity for Australia is in services – health services, tourism services, accounting services and property services – at the very point in time that the McKinsey Global Institute is warning that the automation of knowledge work (all services) is one of the Big 12 disruptive technologies, that are helping to drive the way our world works.

12 disruptive technologies

As any systems thinker will tell you, the most effective way to get the best out of a system is to be able to navigate from one good model of the system, to an even better model, as the system undergoes transformations from one stage of its development to another. The second most effective way to get the best results from a system is to have a great model of that system, and to leverage the features of the system.

Krugman’s problem is he does not have, nor does he believe anyone has, a good model of the system. He points out that technological change of the “whole digital era, spanning more than four decades, is looking like a disappointment. New technologies have yielded great headlines, but modest economic results.” “Why?” he asks.

The problem with Krugman’s model, is he appears to have conflated two, if not three stages of human socio-technological development, and called it the “digital era” when in fact we already know and recognize these stages as the Information Age (50 years), Knowledge Age (10 years), and the current Wisdom Age (which is almost over before it has even begun).

The hoped-for boost to productivity gains that Krugman seeks from investments in the latest technologies is largely negated by embedding out-of-date leadership/management approaches, coordination methods and processing techniques.

Sadly, the operating center of gravity of many organizations remains stuck in the earlier Industrial Age paradigm operating according to a command and control model of management waiting for some upstart from nowhere to finish them off in an act of what Schumpeter called “creative destruction”.

The problem with Hockey’s model is it hails from two socio-technological generations in the past, an Information Age or at best Knowledge Age view of the system. He is betting Australia’s future on an economic model that is on its way out, kind of like over-investing in the horse and buggy and buggy whip manufacturing at the start of the 20th Century, just as motor cars were taking off.

The Australian government is further damaging Australia’s future prospect by cutting investment and support for R&D in the technologies of tomorrow by both the public and private sector – with renewable energy at the top of its hit list.

Instead they are giving big tax breaks – a $20,000 instant write-off – to small business for capital equipment such as cars and computers that are no longer made in Australia, or will soon cease production.


Here is a workshop you can use to help your organization think about the structure of future paradigms. It uses a model Maverick & Boutique has developed to help people think about the paradigm shifts that occur at increasingly shorter intervals (see image at the top of the post). We have created thus model by identifying the central scientific model or essence at the heart of current and emerging paradigms, and using the new metaphor to extrapolate from the current system to the emerging system.

We have filled in the blanks for the past three paradigms using the most appropriate metaphor that fits our observations – the computer (Information Age), the network (Knowledge Age) and the ecology/complex adaptive system (the emergent era, we have tentatively called the Wisdom Age). Just for completeness, the earlier paradigm is the Industrial Age and its’ metaphor is the machine.

Our best guess for the next paradigm is the “hologram” metaphor. This conjecture is based on what we have learned from examining the contributions to our strategic planning/future creation workshops involving hundreds of people from all walks of life, in many countries.

The task is to imagine the features of the next paradigm after the Wisdom Age, to think about and describe the kinds of technologies/tools that may be emerging as well as the coordination methods, the rules of interaction, the roles that people play using the hologram paradigm as our guide.

So what features of a hologram might be useful? We know, for example, that if you cut a hologram into small pieces and shine laser light on any piece, you get a 3-D image of the whole, just fuzzier. The means for reproducing the hologram is distributed throughout the entire hologram; just as DNA is distributed throughout every cell in an organism. Thinking about this feature, could we perhaps postulate that leadership capacity or coordination capacity might be best fully distributed throughout the system, in every person, each being capable of stepping up to a leadership role when necessary, rather than being found only in a few individuals, at a single central location (e.g the C-Suite) or at nodes (e.g. team leaders).

1. What are the features of a hologram? Thinking about what it does, how it works etc.

2. Thinking about the features of a hologram (e.g. information distributed throughout the whole of the hologram), how could we interpret this for each of the following features of a socio-technological system – the technologies (tools, technologies, processes, techniques etc.), roles (jobs), rules (rules of interaction, co-ordination or leadership methods), relationships (structure, systems)?

3. Test: How well do the features of the new paradigm align with each other? How well do the features evolve from one paradigm to the next? What inconsistencies are there? What earlier features now inconsistent and need revision?

4. Improvements: What improvements could we make to the model that resolve the inconsistencies within the new paradigm and across paradigms for each feature?

Good governance and democracy: diverging


Democracy of the people, by the people, for the people seems to be failing us. Politicians elected to make decisions on our behalf seem to listen more to their political supporters than the experts.

Climate change is a perfect example of the failure of the current democratic systems to deliver up good governance.

Around the world, there is a growing consensus that we need to take action on climate change. Some 97 pr cent of climate scientists agree on the science, and what the future holds if we do nothing – rising sea levels, wilder weather, displaced populations and changing ecosystems to begin with.

Even some past detractors are changing their minds. In Australia, AGL, one of nation’s largest coal-fired electricity generators, recently announced it would be phasing out its plants by 2050, and expanding its efforts in alternative energy.

But the climate deniers still fight on, hoping to persuade us that the scientific community is committing a massive fraud on the citizens of the world.. In April the Australian Federal Government announced it would be “investing” $4 million to help Bjorn Lomborg who contends that climate change is “overstated” and “not a priority”, to set up a new “consensus center” at the University of Western Australia. Lomborg is from Denmark, that is now the world leader in wind-power generation. Denmark currently generates 39 per cent of its electricity needs from wind, and plans to achieve 50 per cent by 2050. Even in nearby England, where the conservatives have been in government for the past four years, 25% of homes are powered by wind.

This is the same government that slashed investment in R&D for co-operative research centers and cut the funding of Australia’s premier research institution, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It also abolished the Climate Commission, which comprised Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts on the basis that the $1.5 million annual operating costs was too expensive.

So what’s going on?

Its all about pandering to the base, the reliable rusted-on voters who deliver political support, and the vested interests that deliver financial support.

A few years ago, the current Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, defeated the then leader of the opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, in a vote to be the leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party.

Turnbull, an advocate of carbon pricing, was preparing to do the unthinkable; support the Labor Party government of the time on legislation to implement an emissions trading scheme. This plan so upset his rather right-wing backbench and some of their mining industry supporters, many of them climate change deniers, they booted Turnbull from the leadership, by a slim majority, 42-41.

Abbott survives as Prime Minister by a knife-edge majority of parliamentary support, even though his performance in the job has been abysmal. His public approval rating hit a recent low of just 29 per cent.

The breakdown of Australian bi-partisanship on climate change over the past decade mirrors what is happening in the USA. Despite overwhelming evidence from highly respected scientists at NASA and NOAA, the Republican and Democratic parties, at least at the Federal Level, are on a collision course over tougher rules for coal-fired power plant emissions.

Meanwhile, the majority of Americans (63%), like the majority of Australians (75%), believe that climate change is real and a major threat. Yet a small minority in both countries have managed to shift the political game to serve their interests at the expense of everyone else.

If the purpose of democracy is to best serve the needs/interests of the people in both the long term and the short term, then the system of Parliamentary democracy, is longer working as well as it should.

Francis Fukuyama, an influential member of the Reagan administration and author of The End of History, argues that a both-and solution is necessary: liberal democracy in partnership with an “autonomous administrative bureaucracy” composed of people whose job it is to bring the best knowledge and data to bear on any and every issue.

This was once the case in Australia, where the role of the public servant was to give fearless advice to the political leadership, no matter who was in power. Not any more. Australian political leaders now routinely get rid of department heads that offer contrary advice in favor of those who are more compliant or ideologically aligned, rather like the American model. According to Fukuyama, this leads to corruption of the system.

But even when you have a powerful bureaucracy to balance an equally powerful political class, there is no guarantee it will be any better. Consider the current European Union “administrative think” that supports austerity as a way to increase economic output.

In System Thinking terms. a lens through which it is useful to analyse any issue, corruption occurs when the goals of the system are perverted to meet the narrow needs of a few, rather than the broader interests of the many. It comes in many forms, from the extreme case of taking bribes (either administrative or political) to give a party an unfair advantage over another, siphoning off funds to pet projects of either the politicians or administrators, or by simply ensuring that an industry gets preferred treatment, and is allowed to main, harm, despoil or generally have a negative impact of citizens despite the evidence to the contrary, as occurs when there is a free flow of talent back and forth between industry and the bureaucracy.


So here is a workshop about political governance.

1. What, in your opinion, should be the goals of the political system? Whose interests should it serve, and how should the system serve those interests?
2. What impact does accelerating change, rapidly expanding complexity and divergence and deepening of disciplines have on the ability of citizens and political class to be informed about the latest knowledge and data on complex and conflicting issues? Give examples of conflicts that are crying out for better analysis.
3. In most current systems of parliamentary democracy, citizens vote for a person to represent their interests in decision making, rule or law making forums. Is the role of representative still relevant? What might an alternative role for the political class be? Where should we strike a balance between representation and leadership?
4. What feedback loops, checks and balances might we build into any new system of democracy to ensure the system can adapt rapidly to new data, new and more robust knowledge and paradigm shifts?
5. Thinking about the way democracy works in your community, state or country what’s working well you would want to KEEP, what’s not working at all that you would want to ABANDON, what could be improved you might want to RE-INVENT, and what is so totally in the past, that you might want to TRANSFORM it into something new, that is a better fit with the emerging paradigm?
6. If you were given the task of designing a democratic system that made it possible for all people to be better and more fully informed about the best and most up-to-date data, the most reliable (or superb theories), unfettered by dogma/ideology, and with biases identified and made clear, what kind of system would you design? What features would it have compared to the existing system. Respond like this: Instead of (current state) we might have (new state).

The bigBang of Social Innovation

What does it take to be a leader or entrepreneur in the social innovation field? To find  the secret to such success, 200+ people came together at the bigBang! event in Cleveland, Ohio on October 28.

The event was hosted by Cleveland Social Venture Partners, and headlined by leadership and systems thinking guru, Peter Senge, with support from Mobile Innovation Lab, a Cleveland-based Design Thinking consultancy.

The event was live-streamed over the Internet into schools and businesses by the network.

You can see the founders of Mobile Innovation Lab Ken Chapin and Abby Straus (also a partner in M&B) facilitate the 90 minute brainstorming session that led into Peter Senge’s world cafe activity. Click here to watch the video.

You can also download a copy of what everyone had to say. Click here.

For those who are interested in undertaking a similar activity, here’s a workshop you might like to try with your own social entrepreneurship community:

1. What are the big societal and technological changes/trends that we’re responding to in Social Innovation?

2. What’s working really well in the world of Social Innovation? What do we want to KEEP? ABANDON? RE-INVENT?

3. What leadership qualities are essential for success in Social Innovation? Think about great leaders you admire and your own strengths and successes as a leader?

4. You have been asked to design a leadership development program. Thinking about the qualities/skills required (from question 3), what are some activities that might help develop/practice those skills.

5. Describe a social innovation project you might like to lead today. 5 word title, 25 word description and how will it benefit society/the world?

Managing complex projects in uncertain times

The task is to harness the collective brainpower of the military and their suppliers on three continents to work out how to better manage complex projects in a more uncertain, ambigious and rapidly changing world and to publish the recommendations as a White Paper.

It’s a complex project in its own right. The project taps into the expertise of defence procurement agencies in Australia, the US, Canada and the UK, as well as  defence and aerospace suppliers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Raytheon, Rolls Royce and Thales.

The Zing/Maverick and Boutique network has been facilitating a series of conversations for the International Centre for Complex Project Management. The team comprises Nick Obolensky (in the UK), Abby Straus (in the US) and John Findlay (roving).

A small army of consultants is helping to write the 10 chapters. The chapters deal with the difference between complicated and complex, the leadership styles and competencies required, the tools and methods that are proving most useful, better ways to deal with risk, new approaches to knowledge management and education as well as issues that require further research.

For each chapter, participants were asked to consider how to deal more successfully with the kinds of problems/difficulties that might be encountered in the future. Each question was accompanied by a set of prompts to probe all the different aspects of the issue.

After talking in pairs about each question for about 5-10 minutes to have as much air-time as possible, the task force members captured and shared their ideas using the Zing complex adaptive learning system, which helps shape emergent knowledge. Participants then read aloud and looked for the patterns or stand-out ideas. Examples of past project successes and failures were also recorded.

Here are the kinds of questions we have been asking:

1. BASELINE TRENDS.  What for you is complex and how do you deal with it? Compared with what? What are the big trends/discontinuities emerging?
2. What kinds of EXECUTIVE BEHAVIOURS, LEADERSHIP QUALITIES or CULTURE are essential for great projects or lead to project failures? What qualities do you need to develop?
3. Describe in 25-50 words a real example of a project failure, cost-over-run, cancellation, etc. where issues of EXECUTIVE BEHAVIOURS/LEADERSHIP QUALITIES/CULTURE was a factor.
4. What is RISK for the private sector? What is risk for the public sector?
5. Give examples of projects where RISK was poorly or well managed and the factors that led to these outcomes.
6. COMMERCIAL MANAGEMENT. What do you see as the main contracting challenges in the future?
7. Describe a project where COMMERCIAL MANAGEMENT was either poor or brilliant and the factors that led to these outcomes.

Good morning StarShine

It’s a brand new day at the three StarShine Academies in Phoenix, Arizona and CEO Trish McCarty and Principal Jan Shoop are a long way from home. Back in Arizona, the children are all learning, the teachers are teaching and the sun is shining brightly.

Here we were in England, training the first group of StarShine facilitators, at Broughton Castle, where Shakespeare in Love starring Joseph Fiennes was filmed, and whose near relatives are the current Lords of the Manor.

There was a roaring fire. Everyone sat around in armchairs and lounges. And the interactive computer system was displayed on a portable screen, mounted on a table. More like morning tea than a training room.

The StarShine teacher enhancement program is now offered on the Zing platform to make it easy for new facilitators to learn to apply the 16 StarShine Principles, to use brain science to get students in the mood for learning.

Here are the principles:

  • Every person born is unique and perfect and on their own road to discovering their dreams and highest calling.
  • We are on the planet to help one another toward achieving individual goals for the Greater Good of All.
  • We each do the best that we can on each day, depending on what we know and understand, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy.
  • Music is the first language.
  • Beautiful, safe environments that are clean and include art, music and nature inspire creativity and help to secure man’s sustainability.
  • Teaching and learning gardening is a necessary part of becoming one with nature and the environment and is a means for personal health and community building.
  • Celebrating local culture and global diversity allows for a rich life.
  • Practice Connect versus Convince; Exercise Compassion versus Judgment, Love versus Fear.
  • Individuals practice being ambassadors for their own country as well as a country other than their own.
  • Co-learning demonstrates that every person is a teacher and every teacher is a student.
  • Financial literacy fosters hope, belief and abundance as it facilitates a wise use of assets.
  • Partnering and mentoring fosters interdependence toward building common ground, as in “the world agrees on time so everyone can communicate.”
  • Holistic explains that each event reinforces all. The pursuit of success and happiness, both individually and collectively, must include body, mind, spirit, health and wealth.
  • Leveraging technology facilitates connecting people; personal contact is vital.
  • World peace is a result of individual peace.

StarShine kids are very special. Many left their previous schools under a cloud. Most come from poor or dysfunctional families who live in what used to be some of the most problematic neighbourhoods of Phoenix.

Every day, StarShine celebrates new possibilities and achievements as a community. Each morning, everyone attends an Opening Ceremony. Every afternoon there is a Closing Ceremony before going home.

StarShine focuses on hope. Teachers and students work together in Mastermind groups to help each other build on our strengths and achieve our goals. Everyone creates a personal Visionboard and leafs through a dozen or so glossy magazines, to find pictures or headlines that resonate with what they would love to happen differently in our lives. Teachers work alongside their students, to update their Vision Board and share their dreams.

In this way young people develop a sense of purpose in their lives and confidence in meeting people. When  you go to a StarShine school don’t be surprised to be greeted by a student who offers to shake your hand and introduce him or herself. “Good morning. I’m Paul Smith and I am going to be a scientist. How can I help you?”

Everyone on the course at Broughton Castle was encouraged to use one or more StarShine principles as part of a learning activity they would facilitate for the group. One participant chose Music is the First Language, and asked us to describe how music has made an amazing contribution to our lives. As the contributions were read aloud and acknowledged, tears welled up in many eyes. Here’s what some had to say:

* Music has often been my friend when all other things seemed to go.  It is what I dance to, clean to, relax to, cry to, motivate myself often to, and even work with.  To me music is my emotional companion and friend.
* Classical music slows my thoughts down and expands my mind. popular music can be uplifting. anthems make me cry.
* Music is definitely my first language, I love to listen to uplifting powerful music and also calming meditative music, I love singing and dancing to music, music that is full of life.
* I love to dance and I feel the rhythm through me
* I use certain rock songs for energy and inspiration…lyrics matter to me as much as the ‘sound’.  Some are profound and really connect me back to myself.  Also use chanting music regularly  for relaxing and meditating, boosting energy and refocusing.
* Music is a mental and historical anchor. At different moments past, certain songs have an emotional significance as you feel certain feelings.

Here’s a sample of some of the activities from the StarShine Teacher Enhancement program that speaks to the 13 StarShine principles and is available on the Zing platform.

1. Thumbprints – ask another person “What five things about you are really unique? Report what you have discovered/learned.
2. Help one another – Turn to the person next to you and ask what they currently most need. Discuss how you might be able to achieve their goals in some way. Report back – their goal and how you could help them.
3. Thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what for could/should we focus on today that might better meet your needs?
4. Thinking about each of the points of the star – body, mind, spirit, health and wealth – describe an activity where we could practise all or most of the aspects at the same time.
5. The garden is at the centre of StarShine. In what ways could gardening and nurturing connect us to nature and our community?
6. What kinds of activities/events/ceremonies could we engage in to celebrate local culture and global diversity e.g. 11 days of peace and sustainability, 9/11 to 9/21, taking care of animals?
7. How could you convert shame, blame and victim stories into proactive life stories, where you decide where your life is going instead of reliving the past?

Goodbye "Cowboy Culture"

In the backwater we call local government, in what we used to call the 3Rs – “roads, rates and rubbish”, change is happening, but not the kind of change we like.

All across America, for example, local governments are struggling to pay the bills, dependent as they are on taxes on business activity and property. Both are in the doldrums as a result of the collapse of property prices from their bubble highs, and the tight credit that struck at local business activity.

Some parts of the US heartland are in a sorrier state. Closed factories and plants are leaving behind shellshocked families who thought their jobs were secure well into the future. These are the communities where the big employers who have ignored the winds of change, are facing intense competition from communuties halfway around the world in India, China and other parts of Asia and South America.

The quality of life in some of these communities has plummeted, although overall the U.S. continues to do well compared with the rest of the world.

In my own country, our perceptions of Lifestyle Quality continues to rise. Australia is now second after Norway on the United Nations Human Development Index, a combined measure of standard of living, education and life expectancy. The United States is in 13th place after countries such as Ireland, Japan, Finland, France and Switzerland.

Australia has survived the global economic downturn with less pain than many others. One of the reasons Australia is doing relatively well, is we took our medicine over the past 20 years. We thought about the future, and the changes that were flowing through society. And we started to do things differently, to regard the role of Local Government as also embracing economic, environmental, cultural and spiritual worlds. We began to invent new services and programs that embraced a wider spectrum of life, and smarter ways to deliver them.

Futurist, Dr. Peter Ellyard, author of Designing 2050, is one of Australia’s “thought leaders”. He has helped cities and towns re-invent themselves and create a better future for their citizens using a holistic approach. His ideas about the transition from a cowboy to a planetary culture have influenced many to change their ways. To think and act differently.

He has helped local government, business, universities and school education sectors rethink their roles, and begin the process of adapting to the new world that is emerging. The focus has been, not so much on eliminating jobs through process innovation, which has been the American focus, but the opposite. The creation of new opportunities to which valued staff can be redeployed. The more intimate engagement of citizens in the processes of designing and creating more human and nature friendly ways of living

He uses a “Preferred Futures” methodology and the Zing team meeting system for many of his large scale local government interventions. In diverse groups of 20 to 60 people at a time, the citizens of a community  contribute their ideas in response to questions that ask them to think about what kind of future they would like and how they can achieve it. They map out an ideal, but largely unattainable Ideal Future, a Probable Future that will result from the continuation of present trends, and settle for a Preferred Future that is both achievable and a big stretch. Then they write a Future History back to present times to detail the steps required to achieve their goals. For each community, he conducts 10 to 30 workshops with the help of a “roadie” who sets up and manages the technical aspects of the system, the wireless keyboards, the giant shared screens and the software. In this way, every voice is heard and valued, and contributes to the outcome.

The program is extremely productive and energizing. Typical of the output of these workshops is the 700 ideas generated in a 90 minute session contained in this report for the City of Townsville in Central Queensland. The city and several consulting firms in the city now have their own portable Zing team meeting systems to continue the economic development and community building process.

Here is a workshop for inventing new to the world products using his Planetary Culture values model:

1. Describe a Spaceship Culture product or service that incorporates one of the new values.
2. Describe a Spaceship Culture product or service that incorporates two of the new values.
3. Describe a Spaceship Culture product or service that incorporates three of the new values.

The dawning of the Wisdom Age

What if the explosion in the economic activity and knowledge work we regard as the Knowledge Age (1980-2010) was almost over and a new economic imperative was suddenly upon us? The Wisdom Age (2010-)?The weak signals from the future point this way.

How might such a trend affect the way we think about the world and the new kinds of products and services that people want? And the new kinds of jobs people will do?

There have always been wisdom workers. Community and business leaders, ethicists, judges, mediators and spiritual gurus. But the focus on wisdom work has reached a new intensity. There’s a whole bunch of new positions being advertised such as Corporate Ethics Officers, Certified Ethical Hacker, Business Continuity Managers as well as “green collar” work such as Environment Compliance Consultants, Energy Efficiency Engineers, Renewable Energy Coordinators and Ecological Footprint Accountants.
Although our scientists, academics and the R&D departments of big corporations are creating new knowledge at an exponential rate, we planetary citizens are increasingly frustrated by the slow speed at which we collectively deal with the world’s most wicked problems.
There is now an expectation we must learn to live more lightly on the planet, to reduce our impact on other species, to care more for our fellow citizens, to resolve the issues that divide us.To do this, more and more jobs will be created to wisely apply our knowledge. Paradoxically, we are also creating the tools that will help to automate/democratize this kind of work, so that ordinary people are able to make use of the same kinds of methods that were previously used only by experts.

A pioneer in this field is Linda Newman, Associate Professor of Education at Newcastle University in Australia (pictured). Linda is the joint creator of a process for resolving ethical dilemmas known as the Ethical Response Cycle.
A version of her method is included in her own electronic meeting title Working Wisely that can be used by anyone with less than a day’s facilitator training to explore and resolve complex ethical issues with greater certainty.
Linda uses her method to help early childhood teachers and carers develop professionally.
Participants learn about the ethics by observing and sharing their own reactions to a hypothetical dilemma and making sense of the patterns in the group’s responses. The dilemmas are presented as a series of “guided discovery questions” that take participants on a learning journey. Each step of a complex case study is followed by a more impossible dilemma or unexpected scenario that needs to be resolved.
Participants engage in a type of high level discussion which Linda calls Ethical Dialectical discourse, which must not only resolve the conflict’s between indvidual opinions, but must also satisfy a personal, professional ethical standard or legal requirement.
Here’s an example of a workshop from Working Wisely. It’s called the Automatic Teller Machine Fairy dilemma:
1. A friend comes to tell you that they have discovered that the automatic teller machine in your town is somehow making errors in calculation. Every withdrawal is receiving $20 too much without the client’s balance showing it. What do you do and why?
2. The “Automatic Teller Fairy” has been helping out many people in your town for a week now. Word has spread. The error has been discovered and rectified. The Daily Bugle reports the names of everyone who used the teller and how often. Your mother (or someone you respect) calls you to talk about it. How do you feel about what you decided to do and why?
3. How do you feel when your employer raises the issue the next day, and why?
4. What does this story have to do with ethics, and why?
5. Some people returned to the teller many times. Write 25 words about how they were thinking.
6. Some people reported the mistake and returned the money. Write 25 words about the type of thinking they used to inform their decision to return the money.
7. Some people who had very little money used the machine only on days where they really needed it. Write 25 words about the type of thinking they used to decide when to, and when not to, access the machine.
8. We have been talking about ethical perspectives which have theories to explain them. Sum up the ethical issues in this story.

We, hologram

Shine laser light on a hologram and you see a sharp image in three dimenions. Cut the hologram into tiny pieces and shine the laser on one piece, and you still have a three dimensional image, just much fuzzier.

We are all like holograms. There’s little bits of us in all the people to whom we are connected. And part of them in us. The richer our relationships the brighter our picture.

We are parents to our children. Lovers or companions. Partners. Employers and workers. Leaders. Playmates. Brothers and sisters. Aunts and Uncles. Citizens. Leaders and followers. Opponents. Challengers. Inspirers. Doctors. Plumbers. Lawyers, Teachers and Nurses. Missionaries. Warriors.

The more cut-off or isolated we are from others, the fuzzier we become. The richer our connections with others, the more brilliant the image.

Abby Straus of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has developed an organization transformation program called Adventures in Brilliance, which helps people see their world this way, intimately interconnected to others, like the way memories are stored in our brains. Her method uses light as a metaphor. Click here to download a trial applet version of her software. Make sure you click on the templates icon to view the meeting methods:

So here is the Identities workshop so you can explore your holographic relations:

1. Each of us has a number of identities or roles that we play in life (i.e. mother, daughter, consumer, employer, etc.) Make a list of your identities/roles.
2. Which are your favorite identities, and why do you like them? For example: “mother: I feel loved and needed, artist: I love to express myself”.
3. Role play: Act/speak to your partner from the perspective of one of one of your favorite identities. Describe how this role defines the relationship(s) you have with others when you are in it, and how you feel about it from this perspective. Report like this – Name + identify + relationships + how you feel
4. Thinking about what we have just said about our many identities and the relationships that flow from them what is the essence/quality/structure/features of identity?
5. What do our identifies/role have in common and how are they different?
6. What identities do you hold/roles you play, that you would like to approach from the perspective of another identity and why?
7. Describe the qualities of  one role/identity that you would like to bring to another (e.g. I would like to lead my staff more from the perspective I hold when I am being a father to my son. Wisdom, strength, humor.) and how this would enhance the relationships you have with others who know you in this role?
8. How could you apply what we have learned/discovered about identity/relationships to some project/situation in your group/your life?