Our annual Spring Gathering is always a great time for students, faculty, alumni and friends to get together and network, socialize and learn from one another. This past weekend was a grand experience!
HAVING FUN IN KEMAH
On Friday night we had dinner at the Cadillac Bar & Grill on the Kemah boardwalk and sat on the deck while old and new reunited around Mexican food and margaritas. Afterwards some brave souls, led by Admiral Andy, took on the “Boardwalk Bullet” – a wooden and quite rickety rollercoaster providing an awesome, yet fleeting, view on the surrounding area.
For the whole of Saturday we were in for a special treat as Mike and Quyen Courtney accommodated us in a wonderful house on the Marina in Kemah. Not only the venue, but also the food matched the awesome content of the day!
TALKING ABOUT THE FUTURE
1. KnowledgeWorks: Meet Blockchain and its implications for education
We had a day packed with futures content starting out with Alumni Katie King, Jason Swanson and Mike Courtney (Aperio Insights) sharing with us the potential of Blockchain technology for education. They presented a forecast entitled “Learning on the Block: Can Smart Transactional Models Power Personalized Learning?” which is a KnowledgeWorks and Aperio Insights collaboration.
This team also had the task of introducing us to Blockchain which uses a fascinating encryption technology system to protect data. This technology has potential applications in many fields beyond the well-known Bitcoin system. Basically, the Blockchain is a ledger which utilizes a distributed verification method, rests on distributed authority (embedded in the network itself), is totally pseudonymous, and provocatively, provides a trust-less environment. Ironically, because it is trustless, the Blockchain can be trusted! Blockchain makes self-managing institutions possible, facilitating smart contracts which are trustworthy and secure.
After introducing the basic concept of Blockchain, they shared different scenarios based on the uncertainties of hierarchical vs. distributed authority and mainstream vs. non-mainstream adoption of Blockchain, and explored the various implications.
Closely connected to the theme from KnowledgeWorks, we had Josh Stanley and Ben Blair of Teachur discuss their experience using the Blockchain to certify the mastery of educational objectives. Teachur hosts a dynamic repository for learning objectives, assessment and pedagogy, and pathways to master anything, drawing from its community to open source all instruction and assessment and enables curated, personalized learning pathways to anyone.
There was a general sense that education in the future might be more decentralized, much more customized and stripped of many redundant layers of educational bureaucracy hampering access to quality education for many.
3. System Solutions for Poverty in the United States (the Kaufmanns)
We also had the Kauffman family share a systems approach to tackling the wicked problem of poverty. The inspiration came from their earlier work on “Project Interlock.” Morgan and his dad, Draper, have been working on this for a couple of years and if all goes well, will see their book on this topic published sometime next year! (Some of you might recognize Draper as the author of “Systems One: An Introduction to Systems Thinking” and Kaufmann’s Rules often used in Systems Theory classes). Needless to say, as Systems Thinkers, the Kaufmanns made fascinating and even some provocative suggestions not only related to tax, but impacting most of the STEEP categories. Some of the solutions were actually quite simple compared to present practices, and we hope together with Draper and Morgan, that their work will at the very least get a promising conversation going!
4. An online visit from Oxford (Wendy Schultz)
Closer to the end, we had Wendy Schultz join us online, presenting the research she is doing on Blockchain Futures. She uses the Sensemaker software to collect “a broad range of stories about possible uses of Blockchain and how those uses could transform society, the economy, governance, and other aspect of life.”
She gave us the opportunity to participate, discussing our stories in groups before submitting them. If interested, you are more than welcome and encouraged to participate here.
Spring Gathering 2016 was a fascinating event and a great way to meet those sharing our passion for the future. Thank you, once again, to everyone who contributed! We hope to see y’all again next year in Houston, Texas.
We just started our Spring 2016 Advanced Strategies Class with a new instructor!
Dr Richard “Kaipo” Lum will be leading this Class in which students get to connect what they learn about strategic planning with real clients outside the classroom hands-on.
Richard is an academically trained futurist and holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawai‘i’s Alternative Futures Program. Over the years he has accumulated broad experience in both foresight work and strategic planning. His previous consulting work includes government clients such as the European Commission, the UK government and the US Department of Defence as well as corporate clients such as Grant Thornton, IBM and PepsiCo. Not only has he published various research articles in journals such as Futures and Journal of Future Studies, but also recently released his new book: “Steps to the Future: A Quick and Clean Guide to Creating Foresight.” He is also the founder and CEO of Vison Foresight Strategy LLC and is actively involved in strategy planning and futures thinking.
He is currently situated in Hawaii and also conducts the course live from there (a fact that makes us only a little jealous)! This reinforces the truly global nature of the Houston Foresight Program as we have had students joining us in class online and in real-time from many countries around the globe such as Brazil, Germany and South Africa. We are elated to be able to span the globe with our program offering and bring both students and teachers together over vast distances as we think about the future.
Richard, we extend a warm Houston welcome! We are excited to have you teach us…
We are proud to announce the book release of one of our very own students: “Never Leave an Airman Behind: How the Air Force Faltered and Failed in the Wake of the Lackland Sex Scandal” written by Craig Perry.
Craig did his undergraduate studies in History at Brown University, and while on active duty in the Air Force, completed a graduate degree in European Studies at St. Petersburg State University in Russia as an Olmsted Scholar. He is currently doing his Masters in Foresight here in Houston focusing on the future of international relations and the military.
The book not only deals with the future of the Air Force, but includes Craig’s personal accounts and interpretation of them – and that is what makes it so interesting! Craig was one of half a dozen Air Force officers who were specially chosen to take command of Air Force Basic Military Training squadrons in 2013 after several instructors were implicated in crimes of a sexual nature the previous year. It soon became clear to the team that many of the reforms implemented in the wake of the scandal were producing unintended consequences. However, the chain of command wasn’t interested in constructive feedback. Craig shares the story of his last years in uniform, and the implications of what the media called his “curious case” for the future of the Air Force.
In our Foresight course Craig previously focused his attention on the Future of NATO and more recently on the European Union. He has also published a paper entitled “The New Space Race: Competition for Lunar Resources.“
As he now adds foresight to his background in history, politics, international relations and European Studies, Craig is an example of someone who integrated foresight with other disciplines and by so doing demonstrates the value of futures thinking.
Craig will soon head off to a new job in the UK and continue to pursue his Foresight studies online. We wish him all the best both on the reception of his book and his work in the future.
Just tallied up the Q1 stats for FIM. Our Google Alert search identified 184 articles focused on “futurists.” Our analysis suggested 77 of these were “fresh” mentions (22 were repeated on multiple days) of relevance to foresight and professional futurists, that is, not about the art movement or band. Our media savvy friend Jack Uldrich came in at 13 mentions this quarter. Ray Kurzweil of Google came close to Uldrich this quarter as his public speeches continue to draw the attention of media outlets. So, 77 mentions in 90 days is less than one fresh mention a day — the public is not being overwhelmed by futurists!
Sheryl Connelly of Ford is almost mentioned more frequently than most. It’s interesting that both Kurzweil and Connelly are organizational futurists (though Kurzweil certainly made his name well before Google). Another name that pops up is Brian David Johnson, who just left Intel (and recently was interviewed by one of our students). It may be that their organizational affiliations are lending them credibility, perhaps when compared to a consulting futurist part of a firm with less name recognition?
As usual, only a few mentions of futurists who are members of APF. After three semesters of scanning, it is abundantly clear that APF’s professional futurists are not registering prominently in the media. Granted the search strategy is catching high-profile public events and conferences, and certainly won’t capture a proprietary consulting project. But nor is it catching the many, many public speaking and events that APF-affiliated futurists are giving.
On a personal note, there was one mention of the Houston Foresight Program’s week-long certificate program. And that suggests we could do a better job of promoting our events! Andy Hines
First the really important news. Our visiting student scholar from last fall, Danila Zindato, is now Dr. Zindato. Congratulations, Danila! Her dissertation is: Design Scenarios: Approaches and Tools for Building the Future within Design Processes. Here’s a link to a public talk in Turku last Spring drawn from it. It was a terrific learning experience for both of us and I am pleased to have built a relationship with Danila and design folks. We have already agreed to work on an article together and I think it good for the Foresight program to be embracing design.
It was interesting to participate in the process, held at the Design Department of Politecnico Di Milano. The PhD candidates had already gone through an extensive critique. Thus, the Festival was less an examination and more of a celebration. I participated in one day of the week-long festival. Danila and one of our colleagues gave public presentations of their dissertations followed by a question-and-answer session. The “jury” convened after the presentations to review the candidates presentations and came back to publicly award their degrees.
After lunch, my co-jury member, Peter, and I each gave a lecture to the audience. Professor Peter Gall Krogh of Aarhus University, Denmark gave an excellent talk: “Drifting by Intention: Design Research from the Inside.” I then gave a talk, Future Friendly Design based on my recent chapter on the PDMA Handbook on Design Thinking.
In the evening, we had dinner across the fabulous Il Duomo. Thanks to HDCS Lecturer Chiara Colombi for instigating a wonderful festival and a satisfying collaboration that is just getting started. Andy Hines
An updated second edition of Thinking about the Future is now available on Amazon. The foreseeable depletion of the original print run of the book prompted this new edition. The changes include:
A bit more on the new chapter. It is designed to provide more tangible, practical, how-to advice. The first edition was not written to provide step-by-step instruction on how to do a foresight project, but rather to share key tips and wisdom from practitioners on how they went about the doing the work. The guidelines provide advice on forecasting, for example, without going into the specific methods or techniques for doing so. One could certainly infer some process tips, and I have heard from readers that were doing do. Thus, I had hoped the opportunity might present itself to address that issue by providing that piece in a new edition (and I have).
Peter Bishop and I have been working on our approach to doing and teaching how to do foresight projects for the University of Houston Foresight Program since the book was published in 2007. Peter originally developed “framework forecasting,” which went through the first three activities of the framework: framing, scanning, and forecasting. I explored and eventually identified how to extend that process through the second set of three activities: visioning, planning, and acting.
The new chapter draws up an original article Framework Foresight: Explore futures the Houston way that was published in the journalFutures. We owe thanks to the many Master’s and Certificate students who worked with us as we tried out various approaches over the years. I would also like to thank futures friends Gary Hamel, David Learned, and Will Lidwell for inspiring the original idea of the book, and Tom Conger, then of Social Technologies, for stepping in and getting the first edition published when the original publisher went out of business.
I’d also like to plug Rafal and his team at Formatting Experts – they produced both the print and e-version of the book and are amazingly attentive to detail, responsive, and diligent. They routinely did more than I asked – check out the revised index for instance – because they could not help it but to make improvements where they were needed. A really, really outstanding team and very fairly priced.
And, of course, special thanks to the original three-dozen significant contributors–and the hundreds of others who have in some way helped us to produce this work–to live on as a useful reference guide to futurists and those interested in thinking about the future.
Here are some of our newly enrolled Spring 2015 students! As always, our program attracts a diverse range of students from many fields. For this semester, we have 33 active students. To those newly enrolled: welcome to the exciting world of Foresight. We wish you all the best for your work in the field and are confident that the program will give you all you need to be successful as a professional futurist!
Ciara O’Connell lives with her husband and two daughters in Voorhees, NJ. She is a Director of Consumer & Customer Insights at Campbell Soup Company, where she has worked for 10 years. She leads insights and strategy for Campbell’s largest and oldest businesses, creating strategic direction for brands such as Campbell’s, Chunky, Swanson, Prego, and Pace. Ciara has a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology (from University of Virginia and SUNY Buffalo, respectively), as well as an M.B.A. from Temple University. Her favorite work is in innovation: linking cultural insights and consumer behaviors to identify unmet needs that can generate new product solutions. Ciara is excited to delve more formally into the field of Foresight at UH and help to build this capability for her company in the future. In her free time, Ciara enjoys reading, travelling, and leading two Girl Scout troops for her 6th grade and 4th grade daughters and their friends.
Carla Bass manages the Structured Market Engagement Program at Platts, a leading provider of news, data, and benchmark prices for the world’s commodity markets. Before that, she spent most of her working life studying the present as a journalist and editor. She started her career as a business reporter at The Dallas Morning News before moving to Ecuador to work as a freelance journalist. There she wrote for The Economist, The Miami Herald, and other publications, as well as for her current employer, covering the Ecuadorean oil industry. Carla holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. She lives near Houston with her husband and two young sons.
Mark Sackler has more than 40 years of varied work experience in advertising, marketing, market research, broadcasting, publishing and sales. Mark started his career in the 1970’s as a newscaster and sportscaster and also did freelance work for the NBC radio network during that time. His biggest claim to fame was was the Major League Baseball One Millionth Run Scored promotion in 1975, which he researched, originated and helped promote. Since then he continued to build an impressive résumé working at a long list of companies: VP of Marketing, Medical Tribune Group (1985-1987), President, SMG Publishing, Inc., (1987-1996), Director of Marketing Services, Tactical Retailing Solutions (1996-1998), Director of Sales, Pion, Inc. (2003-2006) and Director of Marketing, Vortex Sales Group (2013-2015). Mark would eventually like to apply his foresight skills to write, lecture, and teach about how to think about the future, and to advocate for individuals and society to eschew short-term thinking and take the long view.
This year’s Foresight Jeopardy champion is Jason Crabtree. He vaulted to the top with a well-played strategy in Final Jeopardy, correctly asking the question, “What is Singapore?” in response to the answer: “This island’s government arguably has the world’s most advanced foresight capability.” (For those not familiar with jeopardy, answers are given and the contestants must pose the correct question). He finished just ahead of Kurt Callaway and withstood a late charge by Gandhi Bhakthavachalam. Maria Romero controlled the board for much of the game but didn’t translate it into enough points.
We play Foresight Jeopardy as the conclusion of the Foresight “field” module in our capstone Professional Seminar class. The module explores the field that the students are about to enter. We have created lists over the years of practitioners, books, organizations, movies and the like. The categories of the game include futurists (past and present), books (past and present), foresight organizations, and movies about the future.
Why remember such things in the age of Google? Indeed, rote memorization is certainly less needed. But that’s not quite the point. When we study the future of a topic, we review its history (the rule of thumb is looking backward as far as forward). To understand the field you are entering and to think about your own future in that field, it would seem good practice to look back as well. And practically speaking, as students or new grads network, a gap in what is seen as part of the core knowledge base can be quite damaging. So, congrats to Jason, joining the previous winners Adam Cowart and Karl Irish. — Andy Hines
Blockchain, Bitcoin, Crypto….What’s it all mean, where will it be applied, what are the implications?
We’re really excited that we have a team from Knowledge Works and Aperio Insights to take us through the ins and outs of blockchain. They will be sharing insights and results from their studies exploring the potential impacts of blockchain on higher education, focusing on the basics, the drivers, scenarios, implications and a design challenge.
We’ve taken the Gathering on the road this year to the lovely Kemah waterfront. Friends of the program, Mike and Quyen, are hosting us in a large vacation home on the Marina complete with HD projector, plenty of seating — and a pool and hot tub!
We’ll start Friday night at 5:00 pm at the Cadillac Bar & Grill on the Kemah waterfront. We’ll enjoy Mexican food and margarita and a great view of the water. Then we’ll stroll around the boardwalk, and for those who are game, there’s an amusement park with rides and a roller coaster. And I’m sure we’ll find a place to settle down and relax for the evening after that.
A perfect way to start the day is a 2 mile loop over the Kemah Bridge, we should be able to see sunrise over the water. We will meet at 7:00 am under the bridge. Runners and walkers welcome. And those that might want a more challenging workout are welcome to do multiple loops. Contact Terry Grim (email@example.com) for more information.
We’ll have a light breakfast at the venue from 8:30 to 9:00, and then dive into the day’s festivities. Lunch and dinner will be at the venue. The main feature on Saturday is exploring the potential impacts of blockchain technology. It’s an opportunity for us to really dive in and understand it. We’ll also mix in a few other topics in the afternoon.
We’ll have a mix of students, alums, faculty, prospects, friends, and do feel free to bring a guest. It’s also a tradition that we do this weekend face-to-face, so that we can get to know one another better and also to provide our online colleagues a best time of year to visit.
So, please do make your reservations if you’re coming from out of town. Here are some options:
So mark your calendars and we’ll have our best Spring Gathering yet.
Please RSVP (or ask questions) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Andy Hines
Johann is a full-time student living on campus. He started the program part-time from his home country of South Africa, but decided he wanted to dive and immerse himself in the future. So he packed his bags and came to join us in person this fall. He had an incredible Fall Semester, taking three classes, doing an internship with UNICEF (helping them to set up a Delphi study among other things), participating as a researcher in the Lumina Microsite project and joining fellow students in working with high school students as part of the Houston Urban Debate League.
He took over for Maria Romero, who did an outstanding job in her year as a GA.
Johann’s background includes spending 15 years as a Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church in Cape Town, which included responsibility for strategic planning. His Framework project called “The Future of Human Effort towards First Contact” has been submitted as one of three UH entries to the APF Student Recognition Program.
Please join me in welcoming Johann to this important role for the Foresight Program. Andy Hines