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November 14, 2002

Spiraling Creativity

The Creative Generalist picked up the Great Big Idea Guideand a couple of quick thoughts from Doug Hall. I liked it and yet lament. Spirals aren't mentioned.

Of course what we want our products to spiral with success. The GBI list is a great beginning, yet smacks of boundaries. It will take more than coffee. The staircase is more than a story!

I leave you with quotes about spirals. Of which I add there are plenty. Let me have your favorites.

"If you are inside of something, say an atom, you only see electrons whirling chaotically around you. If you moved outside the atom you would see those electrons moving with a pattern around the atom. If you rise further above you see that atoms are actually the building blocks of larger structures called molecules. And so it goes, on up the scale, ad infinitum. The ever familiar 'forest from the trees' syndrome. It's all a matter of perspective. True creativity is allowing yourself to gain the loftiest perspective you can in relation to the object of your quandary or inquiry."

Enchanted Mind - Creative Chaos


Big Top ~ Spiral

In ascending the spiral stairway of life each new level is at right angles to the one below. Each shift in consciousness demands an alternation of perspective and a reorientation towards life. Just as the seed determines the unfolding of the tree, so within each human life a similar blueprint is contained in the double spiraling DNA molecule."

"Calling symbols "the stuff both of feeling and of knowledge," Lawrence Blair characterizes spirals as more than the timeless symbols of eternity which we find scrawled or woven throughout our earliest mythology; . . . Spirals are the actual "shape" of fluid energy evolving order from chaos, and are found even in the anatomy of our own biological inheritance--the spiraling nucleic acids in the DNA molecule."

June 18, 2003

Collaborative Spaces - Transforming Innovation Capital

How might the growing interest in linking digital identity, blogging wiki's, RSS feeds etc evolve?  How might the emergent functionalities in these tools benefit our evolution and daily experiences. How will they combine and spiral to augment our collective intelligence? How will they reframe the KM knowledge innovation paradigm? For most companies it's happening more rapidly than they think. 

There's a saying "the future is here  - it is just unevenly distributed" (William Gibson). This couldn't be more true when we start to apply it to emerging lightweight knowledge innovation tools and combine it with what we know about mobility, decentralization, hyperconnectivity, online identity etc. 

Yet using the metaphor "standing in the future" we almost inevitably find ourselves reframing the space we compete in today. 

I facilitated the chart below about three weeks ago before going somewhat silent (at least on my blog) when exploring early ideas for transforming a "systems integration business" into an innovation engine.  As the tools paradigm developed we kept spiraling back to the benefits. Each iteration breaking a new frontier, each new technology providing new functionality.   

It's a WIP (work-in-progress) and making the point that all these technologies are already available they are not just effectively connected yet.  For the most part it will be bloggers reading this.  Some have the curiosity to ask:  Is corporate blogging just noise or part of a greater shift.  What about wiki's and the broader aspects of augmented social networks? Etc. 

For my part I've seen no clear model of where corporate blogging is heading.  Yet I firmly believe that blogs are part of the emerging value creation spiral.  The recent wave on posting on wiki's, forums, corporate blogs reaffirm this interest.  Similarly thoughts keep emerging about creativity and innovaton. The underlying thread is a move from systemic innovation to transformative innovation (about which I will define separately).

A few years ago Tom Stewart wrote "Intellectual Capital" and more recently followed it up with "The Wealth of Knowledge".  I'd suggest if we really think about the chart above -- IC /KC merely set us on a pathway.  The (not new) idea of "Collective Intelligence" is just now beginning to reframe how we think about capital and the types of organizations.  We now know that organizations will increasingly compete through their collaborative networks. While it's not just asking better questions -- it's the capability to capture and harness the hidden ones.  More peer driven, more decentralized; almost certainly. 

It's transforming innovation capital (lets not get hung up on definitions of Capital here) simply because what we are now after is hidden.  It is primarily social and these new tools are helping us to uncover the wealth that was always there, always undisclosed, tacit unless tapped, and too infrequently accessed.  Even a small start would include employee who's thoughts or interests you never before knew, to teams doing collaborative manual building, and spontaneous connections enabled through who we know in trusted networks. 

This is nothing less than the beginning for framing tools and an evolutionary path to a  radical shift in the collective intelligence of teams, communities of practice and organizations.

There could be much more to this post.  A little encouragement and a few questions and I might just get back into writing again. 

A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of listening to Doug Engelbart at the Planetworks conference.  Doug's summed up his life's work for the conference: "As much as possible boost mankinds collective capability for coping with complex urgent problems." 

As he developed his view of the world I realized there were similarities to the chart above  -- originally tracing to conversations I'm in with George Por which started and were furthered in France a few weeks ago.  In Doug's chart the frontier (cloud in mine) is constantly changing.  His concepts which I'm still discovering include... The "Hyperscope", "NIC's" - network improvement communities and "DKR's - dynamic knowledge repositories.  They fit easily within the above. 

One word of caution.  This is a somewhat generic chart.  Organizations wanting to explore this space must develop their own pathways augmenting their current competences and enhancing the culture of their organization.  Then having the "foresight" to take this forward begins with a few small bets or prototypes and a few committed individuals.  The key to motivating individuals to participate is creating the clear need for change and building the excitement for what the future might bring. 

November 4, 2003

Corporate Environmental Optimism

Andrew Zolli uncovering why pollution and waste usually indicate inefficiency. So, in an economy of competing companies, inefficiency is for losers. So does it follow that in the long run, successful companies are going to be green and clean? Some optimism here!


In the context of an ongoing futures research project, we recently came across the work of Jesse Ausubel, a 21st-century renaissance scientist and Director of the Program for the Human Environment at New York's Rockefeller University. Ausubel’s scientific interests and insights are incredibly broad, from the future of the physical environment to the mathematical modeling of sustainable systems.


Of particular interest is his paper The Environment for Future Business, which contains the kind of rigorous, contrarian thinking on the future of the physical environment which demands a very close read. Unlike the much gloomier ‘standard model,’ which predicts human-accelerated rapid climate change, Ausubel is optimistic. “The wheels of history are rolling in the direction of prudent, clean use of resources. Pollution and waste usually indicate inefficiency. […] In an economy of competing companies, inefficiency is for losers. So over the long run, successful companies are going to be green and clean.”


To back up his claim, Ausubel points to two the two-centuries-long decarbonization of the world’s energy supply. Think of the fuels we have used over the last two centuries – wood, coal, oil, natural gas, etc. Each of these basic fuels contains a mixture of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Wood, for example, contains a lot of carbon, and a little hydrogen. In coal, the ratio is about 1:1.


As motors and power-plants of one sort or another have become more and more efficient, and as more carbon-dense fuels are replaced with less carbon-dense successors, the result has been the slow, 200-year ‘decarbonization’ of the world’s fuel supply. The shift has been from wood to coal, coal to oil, oil to methane and, inevitably, methane to hydrogen.



Click on picture for larger version

Seen this way, the much-vaunted Hydrogen Economy seems less like the esoteric sci-fi wonder it is pitched as in the media, and more the natural and inevitable next step for a world energy system that is becoming more and more efficient.



Click on picture for larger version

Ausubel also postulates that the shift from one dominant fuel to the next occurs in 40-45 year ‘pulses’, followed by lulls or depressions of a decade or two in energy consumption. Each pulse was triggered by the adoption of cleaner fuels, which in turn led to real growth in per capita energy consumption. If that’s true, the next two pulses Ausubel predicts – one for natural gas, and one for hydrogen, won’t just be good for the environment – they’ll also lead to real economic expansion. (Ausubel's Hydrogen Economy starts to take off globally around 2050 - a conservative and reasonable estimate.)


[Z+Blog!]

About Spirals

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in the Spirals category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Spam is the previous category.

Storytelling is the next category.

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