Calculating the human cost of enabling continuous innovation

By | March 20, 2021

The title of this post might promise more than the ramble I know I am about to start might end up offering. But be that as it may, I will write anyway. Picking up the threads from the end of the last post, on the end of a relatively long episode of continuously looking ahead, I want to go back now to the start of this period just over 15 years ago.

I can pinpoint the exact moment that set me off on this path of continuously looking head, of my eyes forever trained distantly on a far horizon, of peering through the fog enveloping the landscape of the operating environment (as I am wont to say). It was September 2005 and I had just chucked up my fulltime job with a pension and healthcare and moved to San Francisco to explore my future as a design thinker and blogger.

Stumbling across the call for registration at the Accelerating Change conference, I was eager to sign up to the futures workshops and attend the talks as a way of immersing myself in this novel context and environment. For the past few years prior to my move, I had had my head down working in a routinized life at the Institute of Design in Chicago, and this move to the Bay Area was an important move for me, both personally and professionally. I was starting out as an independent consultant, in what, I knew not then.

My own future, was thus, open to me to explore and create. Magic was still around the corner, not yet perceived by my mind’s eye.

As an attendee, I was asked to contribute some words on what I was working on that connected with the conference’s theme. And this task inspired me to write this post on September 13th, 2005, from which I share the snippet below:

I’m working on a theory of developing models or frameworks that can be the root of a sustainable corporate strategy of continuous innovation as competitive advantage on a global scale. […] My chosen metaphor is limnos.

Looking at my old words, it seems I was entranced by exploring the fundaments of developing:

“a philosophy for living in the now while managing to prepare adequately for an unpredictable future.”

In retrospect, sitting here 15 and half years later, I cannot deny that this original seed was to eventually manifest itself in the form of the work that I completed last year with the women selling vegetables in Nairobi’s slums. What else is the essential core of the intervention design for Resilience and Recovery except to offer them tools and insights to help manage daily life in context of the pandemic’s systemic shock whilst attempting to prepare adequately for an unpredictable future*?

On the other hand, reflecting on having adopted this mindset and direction way back when, meant that my mind’s eye was forever kept focused on the far horizon. Which, in turn, implies that it kept overlooking the here and now, and the near and local, given the need to look straight ahead and into the distance, rather than to look down at the immediate path and where my feet might be going, as I kept walking on into tomorrow.

Where was my today?

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