Thoughtful, Committed Citizens
The group was smaller than expected. Working in a nascent field can have more challenges than rewards. I persist because the pursuit is fulfilling and important, but it can be lonely. Named A Better How, last week’s gathering convened a handful of like-minded practitioners to forge, even if for only two days, a community of practice. Sometimes you have to create your own professional development opportunities, as well as blaze ahead with fewer participants than hoped. Sometimes you need to just start, no matter how modestly, push the stasis aside and try to generate a modicum of momentum.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
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Thoughtful, Committed Citizens
The Root of the Matter
I value clarity. Genetically indisposed to muddle, becoming a designer made sense. Helping clients untangle complex issues is a significant portion of the value that Foresight provides to its clients. Which isn’t to say that we simplify matters. Rather, through the process of externalizing elements and their relationships, perspective is gained, from which purpose and direction can be defined, and progress realized.
The Olympics were compelling. I enjoyed watching the fulfillment of ambition, win or lose, in all the apex moments. When I was younger, and studying classical music and pursuing my own athletic ambitions, the “gold medal” goals were clear, however distant. The older I get, the less destination-bound I feel. The direction is more internal and process-focused.
We descend. The airplane’s lights struggle to cut through the night fog. I yearn for clarity. Words can be slippery and inexact, poor mechanisms by which to probe overlapping interrelations. Talk less, draw more. Glimpses of the city’s lights emerge. We are lower than I imagined, although there has been no context from which to measure and judge. Complexity can offer the mirage of easy understanding. Craft more diagrams to turn buried realities inside out, unravel their guts.
Sustainability crosses over. The intersection of the personal and the professional has been the focus of this column from the start. Last week, they collided in an unexpected way: a young family friend’s suicide coinciding with the end of a project exploring student mental health issues on a college campus like the one he would have attended in the fall. It’s not just T’s death that has jarred me, but also witnessing the repercussions for his friends and family, including mine.
Along The Way
There are parallel realities. A single event can shift us from one to another, from denial to truth, ignorance to insight, normalcy to mourning. I am waiting for us to flip into the deeper authenticity of climate change from this surface lie in which we’re so immersed. The suicide of the 18yo son of close family friends last weekend has jarred me from my everyday existence into a pervasively grey mind space. With climate change, all kinds of indicators are highlighting that something isn’t right. But the truth has yet to become inconvenient enough to pursue the level of innovation required to adequately address it.
The Reorganization of Intent
I'm constantly on edge. It’s a subtle anxiety. Foresight has navigated many challenges in its 15 years of existence. We’re as effective and empowered an entity as we’ve ever been. I’m not cocky enough, however, to take success for granted. Every new undertaking (and we’ve had several lately) is a fresh challenge requiring a balance between ego and humility. When that dynamic gets skewed one way or another, the organization will be in trouble.
Part 2: Innovation Imperatives
Last November I distributed the first installment in this series. Creating meaningful innovation and change requires a multitude of factors, many of which are often overlooked.
I was skeptical. An “escape room” experience struck me as a trendy fad. Cajoled by family members, I submitted to the 90 minute exercise over the holidays, and was pleasantly surprised. “Locked" into a room decorated with a plethora of appropriately themed curiosities, our family team had to discover, and then solve within the prescribed timeframe, a series of puzzles with no instructions, in order to earn “release."
Relational New Year
I’ve been reading about relationships. I enjoy pursuing sustainability-related projects because of the people often involved. Working from a platform of shared values provides fulfillment, and the opportunity to delve more deeply more quickly. Progress on complex issues requires working across different types of silos. Increasingly, Foresight has been asked to assist clients with overcoming friction that can occur within collaborations small and large. The immediate problem we’re asked to address is rarely what most needs attention. The root causes nearly always go deeper, and are where we try to focus attention.
All of the Lights
I’m not typically sentimental. The holidays don’t so much invoke a sense of nostalgia, as a longing for a brighter future. These are challenging times for the types of complex, intersectional issues upon which Foresight focuses. Headway is rarely the result of a simple, linear trajectory.
A Wider Angle
Iceland’s panoramas are expansive. The country offers a rich diversity of dynamic landscapes to absorb. However, my photographic attempts to portray their breadth are disappointing. There isn’t a lens wide enough to capture the power and sweep, and the camera’s shutter omits all the non-visual sensory elements that contribute to the viewing experience.