The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey is a classic on the psychology of sports performance, with wider applications. Our ego-mind tries to hard, and stops us from realising our potential. We need to: let go of self-judgements; let our actions happen; use our ego-self to direct natural learning processes; and concentrate.
Fundamentally, the book claims there would be no problem with competition if one’s self-image were not at stake. Indeed, true competition is a form of collaboration, where both players benefit by their own efforts to overcome the obstacles presented by the other.
“The difference between being concerned about winning and being concerned about making the effort to win may seem subtle. But in the effect there is a great difference.
When I’m concerned only about winning I’m caring about something that cannot wholly control. But one can control the effort one puts into winning one can always do the best one can at any given moment.”
The book combines tennis specifics with insights of Buddhism. My tennis (and piano playing, and more) all improved when I took the lessons into practice.
What feels like a million years ago, but was in reality just in the first part of the 2010s, I had role in developing the system innovation approach of the Forum for the Future, a leading international sustainability non-profit.
The key public document, written by Stephanie Draper, was ‘Creating the big shift: system innovation for sustainability’.
For reasons I don’t really understand, it is no longer possible to find this report on the Forum website. So, I have put it in this post.
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The Wasafiri SystemCraft: A Primer is the best plain English articulation of a complexity-informed systems practice for change that I have come across. I do not say that lightly. It draws together an action-learning cycle, a diagnosis and 5 dimensions of action that are often familiar in part, but extremely compelling as a set. Perhaps this shows how it actually was distilled from real experiences of Wasafiri, a change consultancy, rather than derived from what a systems practice ‘should’ be. Excellent stuff!
In Ibarra’s excellent case-based research, she finds that we don’t have one true working identity. Changing careers is a transition process of testing different possible working identities. By exploring what we do, who we engage with and the stories we tell ourselves, we can become more fully ourselves.
Ibarra, H. (2004). Working identity: Unconventional strategies for reinventing your career. Harvard Business Press.
The paper argues that international relations has been too little aware of its deeply western-centric character. The critics are strong when they say that this helps to preserve existing power structures, but that critique can give too much weight to representations, too much fixated on single contexts, too static and too ‘local only’. Scholars need to pluralize, to relativize, and to historicize.
My own thought is whether acting with the intention of ‘decentering’ (rather than ‘decolonialising’) might open up the field of what can be imagined for the future in ways that are not pre-defined by the past.
UNEP’s ‘Adapt to Survive’ report argues that, in the face of unprecedented global environmental challenges, business transformation to a Nature Positive approach is both critical and possible. The report lays out the technocractic, enlightened self-interest argument brilliantly. But it doesn’t mention the political realities of transformation, or that success is far from inevitable.
Famous HBR article that argues humans have built in biases, which we are incapable of seeing in ourselves. But we can see them in others. With a checklist of biases, a decision-making can detect errors in recommendations.
Claim: clear decision roles enhance organisational performance using RAPID (who needs to: Recommend; Agree; Perform (afterwards); Input; Decide) Especially: only one Decider, limit who Agrees and Inputs.
All good, but there will always be some ambiguity in any human construct. So, consider having clear roles for the most important decisions. Plus, there is more to consider, including power, biases, organisational culture and operating context.
Interesting paper that makes 3 claims: (a) future-proofing needs to focus on systemic issues to do organisational future proofing; (b) 3 megatrends are enough to do that; (c) those trends are: 1. climate; 2. AI; and, 3. the battle for an equal, just, and democratic society. I agree with (a) but more attention needed to how select the top megatrends to avoid centering one values set over others (in this case the ‘justice’ trend reflects progressive values that I happen to share but others would frame it very differently).
Zaidi, Leah. “The Only Three Trends That Matter: A Minimum Specification for Future-Proofing.” Journal of Futures Studies 25.2 (2020): 95-102. [Link as at 24/01/21.]
Introducing a minimum specification for future-proofing may help cut through the noise and surface what is needed for us to ensure a sustainable, viable future for humanity.
Given the sheer number of trend predictions, it can be difficult to determine what is critical and warrants attention.
Argues there are only three trends that matter as they will dominate and shape our reality in the years to come.
Climate change and the havoc it will wreak. Climate change will impact everything. There is no Planet B.
The battle for an equal, just, and democratic society. Demonstrated by rise of populism plus tech companies eroding the fabric of democracy and wield more power than entire countries.
The rise of artificial intelligence. Economic importance plus fundamental decisions are driven by entrepreneurs, while policy as struggled to keep pace.
We have now reached a point in history where continuation scenarios of unlimited economic growth are no longer probable futures; they are a fantasy.
A minimum specification for future-proofing that accounts for the most critical of our systemic issues. If we equate future-proofing with systems-oriented outcomes rather than organizationally beneficial ones, we may have an opportunity to bridge the gap between social futures and organizational strategy.
When we design for the future and from the future, we should ask:
How does it support long-term environmental sustainability?
How does it enable justice, equality, and democracy?
How is it helped or hindered by artificial intelligence; is it ethical technology?
Innovations, policies, or strategic planning initiatives that do not equally consider climate change, the battle for equality, justice, and democracy, and artificial intelligence are deficient.
When we stop focusing on trends and start focusing on systems, we will have a better, more complete understanding of what possibilities may emerge next.
Having a larger number of mega-trends is often counter productive.
Need to link organisational future-proofing with critical systems issues.
Yes, the physical and political realities of climate change is an ‘ur’ megatrend, which is already having indisputable effect in shaping and dominating our reality (even if you deny the physics, the politics are huge).
No discussion of other contenders that have been tested but fall short.
Would everyone agree on the issues and the way they are framed?
If not, then what process was used to determine them, and what gives you the claim on such truth? How have you avoided putting your own experience at the center, even unintentionally, and so putting others at the margin?
Even if agree on rise of populism and undermining effect eroding the fabric of democracy, is ‘the battle for an equal, just, and democratic society’ the best way to frame this megatrend? Or does the name rather reveal the preferences of the one doing the naming? While I might hope the arc of history bends towards justice, my ‘just society’ isn’t the same as others’. That’s part of what is contested. Not everyone is battling for equality, or put that as a feature of the trend.
For instance, wouldn’t a Brexit or Trump supporter frame this as something more identity based, for instance the battle for my group success.
A decolonial lens might (might!) have: the battle by incumbent powers (former colonisers and their white superiority myth) to maintain their higher status.
Or a more neutral frame might be: the batter for voice and control. Or, the crisis in democracy and knowledge claims?
Does the three change over time? For instance, 15 years ago would one of the trends have been globalisation?
In my futures work:
Equate future-proofing with systems-oriented outcomes rather than organizationally beneficial ones, as a bridge the gap between social futures and organizational strategy.
Try using these three mega-trends (though with the caveats above).
In the #ReadingNotes series I’m trying to summarise what I read, partly so I have the notes myself and partly as a service to others. This post gives more on why I’m doing it, why I’m presenting my notes in particular way, and how I will evaluate and improve going forward.