We would like to say THANK YOU to all friends, partners and guests for the amazing dialogues and insights, which sometimes left us thoughtful and concerned, but mostly made us look together joyfully and purposefully into the future.
We are currently experiencing a time of crises, uncertainty, despair, and fear. We are confronted with stories on different media channels, listen to experts and podcasts hoping to find answers to questions that go far beyond what can be known at the moment. It is all too human (and neuro-biologically hard-wired) that we are longing for certitude and predictability; even more so in a period in which we are exposed to extreme uncertainty and unpredictability.
We are convinced, however, that we should not be waiting or hoping for ready-made answers or solutions, what to do, how the world will look like in a few months; rather, we invite all of us to engage actively in sense-making and co-creating a meaningful and desired future.
In this spirit, we publish a curated digest of articles, stories, and insights, which we want to share with you on a daily basis; we consider them valuable with respect to inspiring you to engage in co-creating a desirable future. These posts are usually moving and emerging from an inner voice, sometimes (intellectually) challenging, often meaningful, other times inspiring—however, hopefully insightful, consolatory, and contributing to a desirable future.
Invitation to our virtual #theLivingCoreCoronaConsolation dialogue space
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to co-create a desired future after Corona. Learning from mistakes of previous historic events (e.g., the fall of the Berlin Wall), we need to engage now how we would like to live and work in the future. For this, we are convinced, we need to talk to each other and have meaningful conversations.
We make a first step and invite you to our daily “virtual #theLivingCoreCoronaConsolation dialogue space” — for each episode we will provide a hosted virtual space. Usually at 10 am CET, the day after the article has been published — our hosts are welcoming you to join the open dialogue.
Curated digest of articles, stories, and insights
Episode #1. Dancing with systems [23.3.20]
What can we learn from this COV-19 crisis? We are not in control, at least not to such a degree as we might have thought. The solution is not despair or fight against something that can be barely changed, but to assume a humble and open attitude, to try to “dance with the system”. Have a look at Donella Meadows´ ideas about ”dancing with the system“.
Episode #2. The Calm Place [24.3.20]
”There are a lot of serious, scary, important, distressing things happening in the world all the time. This is not about any of those things.“
Whether you are not sure how this week will turn out, how to handle kids, family, colleagues at the same time in your home office, this New York Times story is about comforting you – take a deep breath, change perspective and be energized for dealing with the things around you.
Episode #3. About those who keep us alive [25.3.20]
In these times of domestic retreat and waiting, many of us work to ensure that we have fresh food available every day and that our basic needs are being met. We should take this as an opportunity not only to show our gratitude but also to see how broad and deep the professional skills of these people are. Do not miss this (somewhat longer) article, which explains why our society often misunderstands this important work as ”unskilled“ – even if it is not.
Episode #4. What is the last question? [26.3.20]
Asking questions is a deeply human cognitive capacity and need. Questions, well posed, open our minds and set our thinking in motion. It is not primarily the ”correct“ answer we are seeking for, but asking questions is about engaging in a thorough and critical inquiry on the phenomenon we want to understand, change/transform, and/or design. Especially in our current situation, we are invited to ask profound questions aiming at challenging our assumptions and taking a brave look into the future. ”The Edge“ has compiled a collection of ”last questions“ by well renowned intellectuals and scientists of our time to inspire our thinking.
In Zeiten großer Unsicherheit, sind Methoden, Werkzeuge und Herangehensweise gefragt, die Sicherheit und Orientierung vermitteln. Hierbei ist auf die ”richtige“ Methoden für eine bestimmte Zielerreichung zu achten. Natürlich kann ich auch mit einem Holzpantoffel einen Nagel in die Wand schlagen, jedoch gibt es hierfür sicherlich geeignetere Werkzeuge. Aus gegebenem Anlass wollen wir eine wichtige Unterscheidung zwischen Trends und Potentialen vornehmen. Trends sind eine wichtige Basis für einen Blick in die Zukunft, jedoch ist der Neuigkeitsgehalt sehr gering, da die Trends bekannt und beschrieben sind. Wollen wir die Zukunft gemeinsam gestalten, müssen wir aus der Zukunft heraus innovieren – und hierfür eignen sich Potentiale sehr gut. Denn ein Potential ist etwas (aka Innovation), “was noch nicht ist, aber werden wird“.
Episode #6. Corona might be the tip of the iceberg [30.3.20]
While Trump has cynically made up his mind on where the Coronavirus originated, we rarely consider the deeper ecological causes for more recent pandamics:
”human health research seldom considers the surrounding natural ecosystems“
– after all, the corona outbreak is also an expression of our lack of ecological awareness. Our fight against the coronavirus is perhaps not a one-off affair, but the expression of a tendency that requires a broad systemic-ecological perspective to understand.
Episode #7. Ending the Tyranny of the Measurable in times of uncertainty [31.3.20]
These days ask for reflecting on many of our dearly held mental models and assumptions. Being confronted with a situation like ours right now, shows us that—besides all numbers irritating our minds—there is a lot more behind these numbers and that the non-measurable, the qualities, becomes even more important. Today, we invite you to question one key assumption in our organizational lives: ”You can’t manage what you can’t measure“.
Episode #8. Die Zurückeroberung der Natur [1.4.20]
Jede Krise hat auch positive Seiten. Der Lockdown in Italien und die ausbleibenden Touristenmassen bewirken die Rückeroberung der Wasserflächen in Venedig. Spannend ist die Resilienz (Widerstandsfähigkeit) der Natur ungeachtet einer jahrelangen Beeinträchtigung: Bewohner sind überrascht, dass innerhalb so kurzer Zeit, das Wasser sauber ist und man endlich wieder kleine Fische sehen könne. Auch Delphine wurden in Küstennähe gesichtet. Die von der Klimabewegung vor einigen Monaten geforderte Luftverbesserung von Städten ist durch Corona eingetreten – damals jedoch als nicht umsetzbar und realitätsfremd verdrängt.
Episode #9. Pandemics: A mirror for society [2.4.20]
In this moving interview with Frank M. Snowden, a professor of history and the history of medicine at Yale, we are told how pandemics can teach us about ourselves as a society, uncovering our best and worst potentials. They are, despite their dread, a fairly large source of social self-reflection:
”Diseases do not afflict societies in random and chaotic ways. They’re ordered events, because microbes selectively expand and diffuse themselves to explore ecological niches that human beings have created. Those niches very much show who we are…“
How do we want to innovate in the next 10 years? What does innovation mean in an exponential and digital (platform) economy and how are we dealing with an uncertain and almost unpredictable and complex future as we are experiencing it right now? How can we bring about innovations ”with purpose“, that ”make sense“, that are sustainable and have a positive impact? Most of our innovations are driven by past experiences these days, as this seems to be the only ”solid“ source that we can rely on. We will show, however, we can go beyond this strategy by tapping into future potentials leading us the way to ”learning from the future as it emerges“.
Episode #11. Let’s Aim for Physical Rather Than Social Distancing [6.4.20]
There is an interesting shift currently happening regarding people’s opinions expressed on different (social) media channels: 2-3 weeks ago, almost everyone understood the restriction due to Corona and (more or less) followed them. Since a few days, and I assume this will increase over the next weeks, more and more statements question the rationale behind a complete lock-down. The argument goes that social isolation will carry a heavy psychological price tag. K. E. Miller addresses this issue in his article:
”Social isolation has the equivalent adverse impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s a greater threat to health than obesity.“
Episode #12. Overcoming anxiety in times of uncertainty [7.4.20]
It is a deeply human need to wake up in the morning and return to the same world as yesterday. This need seems to have been deprived of its most fundamental basis at the moment. To cope with this unprecedented uncertainty, many of us respond to the Corona-crisis with anxiety. This is not a bad reaction at first, especially since anxiety drives us to avoid uncertainty by assuming the worst and thereby, it helps to avoid it. The problem is that fear is unpleasant and too much of it is unhealthy or even counterproductive. So what exactly can we do to curb our anxiety?
Episode #13. Why strategy under high levels of uncertainty can be thriving [8.4.20]
Prediction lies at the heart of every process of planning and strategy. It is essential for any organization. However—as we are experiencing right now—there exist situations where we are far from being able to make predictions even for the next few weeks. This article develops four levels of uncertainty and shows how we might deal with what the authors refer to “residual uncertainty”. Interestingly, level 4 uncertainties (i.e., the highest level of uncertainty) — in many cases — offer higher returns and lower risks for companies seeking to shape the market.
Episode #14. Zwischen künstlicher Intelligenz und menschlicher Existenz: “we are here to create” [9.4.20]
Over the past years, human kind has invented a variety of helpful tools. What we haven’t figured out yet is an answer to the question as to why humans do exist. Edge published a conversation with Kai-Fu Lee on his thoughts about the relationship between AI and the human existence: ”We are here to create“. Gathering a lot of insights in the development of technologies such as machine recognition systems, statistics, programming, neural networks, and deep learning within the last decades, Kai-Fu Lee has strived to answer one question: why are we here?
Episode #15. Zooming in: meetings and privacy [10.4.20]
The corona crisis forces us to change the way we work at an unparalleled pace. One sacred institution of our working life is much more affected by this than others: the meeting. One instrument, more than any other, has also become indispensable in these times of crisis: Zoom. While many of us did not know of its existence, by now everyone knows the video conferencing application.
Episode #16. Futures literacy and it s role for shaping thriving futures [14.4.20]
Most academic and business curricula offer a good training in analytical thinking, critical thinking, planning, or making predictions. Although these skills are somehow concerned with “future issues”, they are implicitly or explicitly based on the assumption that the status-quo and/or on extrapolating past experiences or trends into the future can predict the future. However, our current world is highly unpredictable and follows an exponential dynamic leading to a high level of uncertainty (“VUCA world”). It can be shown that these classic tools simply do not work any longer in such an environment. Riel Miller at al. introduces the concept of futures literacy as a discipline of anticipation, which can be trained and refined to establish familiarity with the unfamiliar and with an unknown and uncertain future. This article develops this discipline and shows why it is key for any business and innovation process having the aspiration to shape the future in a thriving manner.
Episode #17. Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen als Ausweg? [15.4.20]
Die Corona-Krise als Chance: ein bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen wird schon seit vielen Jahren von Akteuren, vor allem in der Schweiz, propagiert. Viele Berechnungen lassen dieses Wirtschaftssystem (je nach Autor) als unmöglich oder als neue, sinnstiftende Wirtschaftsform erscheinen. In diesem kurzem Beitrag wir auf diese Chance eingegangen. In der Schweiz läuft das Crowdfunding-Projekt Together Now, um ein angepasstes Überbrückungseinkommen für Selbstständige zu implementieren. Auch das World Economic Forum hat sich zu diesem Thema geäußert.
Episode #18. Colleagues, crisis, and compassion [16.4.20]
In times like these, you often feel as if you have a carte blanche to judge others – involving your coworkers. Perhaps they have not followed the rules of social distancing – perhaps their home office-productivity suffers. But it is above all a situation in which social warmth and compassion are all the more important. So what is an appropriate method for more compassion in a situation that drives people apart? While economic insecurity is a breeding ground for tension, it can also be used to create a new form of a deeper coexistence.
Image: Brian-Mcgowan at Unsplash
Episode #19. Innovation from within: Why meaning and purpose are essential in Emergent Innovation [17.4.20]
Emergent innovation uses the future as its origin and is based on a deep knowledge of the subject of innovation. A profound understanding of the innermost core of the innovation subject (and its potentials) helps us to see what seeks to evolve or emerge from it. This approach of “learning from the future as it emerges” is based on a number of fundamental premises of innovation: most importantly, innovation must emerge “from the inside out;” it must have a paramount purpose (“why”) and meaning (“what”); and anyone involved must “embrace” reality and be open to personal change.
Episode #20. Dressing for the Surveillance Age [20.4.20]
As leaders in some countries use the Corona crises to enforce authoritarian systems, this article about surveillance (in cities) becomes even more relevant. Author John Seabrook twists this topic by searching for an invisibility cloak in order to escape being tracked: ”As cities become ever more packed with cameras that always see, public anonymity could disappear. Can stealth streetwear evade electronic eyes?“
Episode #21. Covid-19 and the Specter of China’s Soft Power [21.4.20]
We have been reading about predictions of China’s rise as a global “soft power” for a very long time, but these predictions have always pointed towards a distant future. Although the multiple crises of the West have repeatedly given rise to the belief that the end of the appeal of the Western life model has already occurred, it has never really come to that. However, the realignment of US foreign policy and its stance on global cooperation and trade has created a vacuum that Chinese soft power can penetrate. The Corona crisis is rapidly accelerating this process. Although China’s information policy is currently under heavy criticism, we should not be surprised if the “Chinese method” develops even more traction after the end of the crisis.
Episode #22. 3 ways the coronavirus pandemic could reshape education [22.4.20]
Not only our meeting culture has changed dramatically over the last weeks. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the way students are learning, how teachers are teaching all over the world. Interestingly, it was just a matter of weeks that this switch of mode had taken place; suddenly things became possible which have been thought to be reserved only for “elite or alternative educational institutions”. This short essay by the World Economic Forum sketches some of these changes and highlights possible positive and negative long term implications:
- Education – nudged and pushed to change – could lead to surprising innovations
- Public-private educational partnerships could grow in importance
- The digital divide could widen
Episode #23. Scaling: The surprising mathematics of life and civilization [23.4.20]
An interesting essay by Geoffrey West, Professor and Past President of the Santa Fe Institute, about insights in scaling phenomena: ”What happens to cities or companies if their sizes are doubled? What happens to buildings, airplanes, economies, or animals if they are halved? Do cities that are twice as large have approximately twice as many roads and produce double the number of patents?“. The scaling-team discovered that cities, like organisms, do indeed exhibit “universal” power law scaling, but with some crucial differences from biological systems: with every doubling of city size, socioeconomic quantities – the good (patents), the bad (crime), and the ugly (AIDS cases) – increase by approximately 15% per person with a concomitant 15% savings on all city infrastructure-related costs.
Episode #24. Was die Corona-Krise für die öffentlichen Medien bedeutet [24.4.20]
Die Vierte Gewalt ist ein Grundpfeiler der liberalen Demokratie. Aber wie ergeht es denn der Presse in einer globalen Krise, in der demokratische Grundfreiheiten eingeschränkt werden? Wie geht sie mit der sich fortlaufend verändernden Daten- und Faktenlage um – und wie reagiert sie kritisch auf die zunehmend konsensuale Politik ohne dabei die kollektiven Anstrengungen zu untergraben? Die öffentlichen Medien sehen sich all diesen Herausforderungen ausgesetzt; und während die Situation den Journalismus zu Höchstleistungen zwingt, sinken die Anzeigeerlöse. Marc Brost und Bernhard Pörksen rufen uns das eindrücklich in Erinnerung.
Episode #25. Hiring Humans, Not Resources – How to Bring Humanity to Hiring[27.4.20]
Have you ever reflected on your hiring processes? Have you ever thought of radically changing your mindset and the way you are hiring new employees? The Ready offers an inspiring way of thinking about these processes; however not only on the “how”, but on the attitude on what it does mean for the whole organization. They suggest a human-centric/humanistic approach to one of the most delicate and important processes of a company. It is not primarily based on skills and roles, but on the purpose and a guiding question: “How can we make hiring more about humans and less about resources?” You can also listen to this podcast.
Episode #26. 52 places, virtually [28.4.20]
This list of places to visit from The New York Times was originally compiled before the coronavirus, however, it might bring you now (mentally and emotionally) joy and relaxation. You will be seeing new places and pick up some interesting tidbits of other cultures. It reminds me on one of National Geographic´s tagline: ”The places we take you … aren’t just of the map“.
Episode #27. What the Corona-Crisis Can Tell Us about the Nature of Hope [29.4.20]
“The first lesson a disaster teaches is that everything is connected. […] At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t.”
Rebecca Solnit gives us a perspective on how hope helps us deal with uncertainty in times of crisis. Hope must not be a means of preservation, but can coexist with uncertainty and sadness to make positive changes possible in the first place.
How should we design our futures? What is the role of technology, and, more specifically, of Artificial Intelligence and cognitive technologies in this context? In his manifesto “Resisting Reduction”, Joichi Ito points us a way—not blindly following the “new religion” of singularity and exponentiality—into a future that is taking seriously the insights from complex adaptive systems and second-order cybernetics. He describes how we can transform complex, self-adaptive systems by intervening not primarily with a strategy of problem solving and optimizing, but by following a more organic and evolutionary approach aiming at regulating growth, increasing diversity and complexity, and enhancing the system´s own resilience, adaptability, and sustainability. It turns out that changing parameters or even rules is not nearly as powerful as changing the system’s purpose, goals, and paradigms, if we want to engage in creating a culture of flourishing.
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