24 October 2007

Recognizing Patterns in Life - Fibonacci numbers

There are beautiful patterns in life. Mathematics is beautiful, and its beauty is in its language of patterns. There are mathematical formulas for expressing these beautiful patterns in life. One of these is called

The Fibonacci numbers - the mathematical formulas for the patterns of nature. There is also the the Golden Spiral sometimes called the Fibonacci spiral, which captures growth patterns in nature. Many think that the nautilus shell follows this concept, but in reality its growth patterns follow a logarithmic spiral, similar to spiral galaxies, spider webs and the approach of hawk to its prey.

Another beautiful mathematical formula is the Golden Ratio, governing ethestics.

We need a certain distance to recognize patterns. Sitting in an airplane, we recognize the patchwork quilt of fields, hedgerows, or city blocks below. Yet, standing among them, we can’t see them because we are too close. In other words, we can’t see the forest for the trees.

I love puzzles because I like figuring out the patterns. This is why I can easily see things that others cannot. Images, sounds, smells, rhythms, textures, groupings.
Training our minds to recognize patterns helps us put things together and move easier through our lives. This is called strategy. Some also it call it magic.

This is part of what unifies us - our lives, society, business and the economy - and holds us together. These patterns are concepts. These concepts are the stories of our lives. These concepts hold the secrets and beauty to everything. If you recognize them, you know the secret.

Our lives are made up of concepts within concepts.
The next time you’re trying to figure something out, go for a walk and look around you at the wonders of nature.
Get some distance from what you’re trying to figure out - and then look for those patterns.

Share what you have discovered by looking at the same things through a different lens. What did you find?

15 September 2007

The Difference between Values, Principles, Ethics & Morals

As we take the philosophy behind Kids 2020 out into the world, we open the discussions with the role that values play in making choices. The wonderful tendency of value-based discussions is that they quickly reveal content and separate it from “spin”…much to the chagrin of the spin-masters.

What is becoming very apparent to me is that most people do not have a clear understanding of the distinction between values, principles, ethics and morals. These four terms seem inter-exchangeable for most people…even for those responsible for defining company values.

This creates confusion because each of us works with our own personal glossary of terms, and with our own definitions for those terms. No wonder people get confused - we make glaring assumptions and just keep charging through the communication…establishing our authority, whether it's validated or not.

So, what is the difference between a value, a principle, an ethic and a moral? Rather than just give people clear guidelines, I prefer to engage them in exploring the differences. Each of us has to discover why that is relevant to us, so that we can adopt the meaning and significance of what differentiates these terms from one another.

For instance, terms like “liberty”, “discovery”, “compassion”, “joy”, “duty” are values. These are concepts that drive our choices - hidden deep inside our DNA or culturally adopted - consciously or unaware, we depend on them to construct the frameworks of our lives. Values influence how we make choices.

How you would carry these values out into practice would become guiding principles. You could also establish a standard of behaviour for a moral code from them, particularly if there were lessons to learn from not adhering to this code with a resulting judgment. Or, you could establish ethical practices from them, a set of principles to guide behaviour and manage expectations in a civil society.

Once we begin to engage in conversations about values, we begin to learn more about people, situations, business, and the many different kinds of community. We also learn so much about the different lenses through which individuals choose to view their world…perspectives.

What conversations are you having about values? Are these discussions helping you make more informed choices?

20 July 2007

NowPublic - crowd powered media

I discovered Now Public - this crowdsourcing site - when Ryan Nadel sent me a request to use some of my photos from the Acropolis in Greece for a story he had posted about the work on the Acropolis.

What caught my attention about Now Public were the different perspectives about the same topic captured by each contributor. Without the journalistic training and filters, these contributos add their view through their own personal lens. This gives us not only insight into the topic, but insight into the mindset of the international public's engagement with the topic.

Now Public is easy to navigate and offers a tabbed menu with drop-down menus for choices like "popular good stuff".

If you run across any other crowdsourcing sites, please share them here so we can build a resource list.

18 June 2007

Kids 2020 Foundation is Official

Kids 2020 creates meaning for me. Learning the role that values play in making choices - and putting them to work in creating value - is the heart of Kids 2020. What if parents could help their children learn the strategic skills to use values to make wiser choices - and identify their vision of a preferred future and build a clear path of value to their preferred future?

Kids 2020 is a powerful idea and an ambitious movement to put that powerful idea into practice.

It's been a long road. We've been gathering a force of believers along the way with expertise in their special areas to help us bring Kids 2020 to life. With the potential to change the world, this is such an ambitious undertaking.

Follow us as we take Kids 2020 into the world. You can also contribute in your own preferred way. Within a few weeks, you can visit our Kids 2020 Foundation website to participate. Please be patient while we're under construction - building the web infrastructure takes time - and lots of expertise.

We're committed to only using Open Source applications. Arjen Kamphuis has joined our team just to keep us on this track. We've chosen Plone for our content management system and Zope for our content management frameworks.

22 March 2007

“We are Smarter than Me” Book Project

The “We are Smarter than Me” project is another form of crowdsourcing.

” Students, faculty and alumni of two illustrious institutions, as well as leaders, authors, and experts from the fields of management and technology are invited to harness the power of community.”

I’ve received an invitation from Wharton Business School to participate in writing a book in collaboration with others from MIT Sloan School of Management, Pearson Publishing and Shared Insights - with a commitment from Pearson to publish it. They are ”an ambitious community addressing a crucial shift in how businesses operate as they learn to leverage the power of "community." This American academic community and their worldwide network are uniting with publishing and IT services to create an environment where they can explore how to write a book in collaboration online. This book will document the evidence of that process.

Just check out the “We Team” to see the strength of leadership for the project.

Read the Community Proposal to understand the rationale behind this.

20 March 2007

Crowdsourcing in Journalism

Journalism is known for its networks of sources in tracking down their stories with due diligence. That has been the point of differentiation between journalists and citizen journalists until now. Now - journalists and readers and all of their related sources and experts can contribute to stories and articles.

Assignment Zero is a collaboration between Wired and NewAssignment.net.

Assignment Zero is an experimental website set up by Jay Rosen, a Professor of Journalism at New York University. Using the "wisdom of the crowd" and good reporting skills, this new method creates opportunities and evidence of "crowdsourcing". They are using software to build newsroom scenarios where people collaborate on specific topics. They develop them through discussions where citizens with expertise in these topics will contribute and the sourcing will be aggregated into a story by the reporter.

Though I love the open-source reporting idea, I am very curious how these contributions will be rewarded. If anyone participates, please let me know how you experience this. I've signed up to give it a try.

4 February 2007

The HBR List of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007

In the February issue of the Harvard Business Review, I came across The HBR List of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007.
Harvard Business Review
This is the result of an annual survey of
-- “emerging ideas that consider how nanotechnology will affect commerce,
-- what role hope plays in leadership,
-- and why - in an age that practically enshrines accountability - we need to beware of “accountabalism.”

The following is an excerpt of the highlights. I highly recommend that you take the time to read the full article. It is insightful and, at times, witty.

1. The Accidental Influentials by Duncan J. Watts
In his best seller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that “social epidemics” are driven in large part by the actions of a tiny minority of special individuals. The idea seems intuitively right—we think we see it happening all the time. Nevertheless, this isn’t actually how ideas spread. It’s better to focus on getting enough plain, ordinary people to sign on.

2. Entrepreneurial Japan by Yoshito Hori
Japan’s economic rebound is generally attributed to the turnaround of corporate giants and to industry consolidation. But it is also fueled by the emergence of new companies led by entrepreneurs in their twenties and thirties. An entrepreneurial Japan—no longer an oxymoron—may ultimately overshadow the much touted start-up cultures of China and India.

3. Brand Magic: Harry Potter Marketing by Frédéric Dalsace, Coralie Damay, and David Dubois
Most brands target a specific age group. The big problem with this approach is that it positively discourages customer loyalty— and, as we all know, it’s a lot cheaper to keep customers than to find new ones. To get around this problem, companies should consider creating brands that mature with their customers.

4. Algorithms in the Attic by Michael Schrage
For a powerful perspective on future business, take a hard look at mathematics past: the old equations collecting dust on academics’ shelves. Just as big firms need the keen eye of an intellectual property curator to appreciate the value of old patents and know-how, they will need savvy mathematicians to resurrect long-forgotten equations that, because of advancing technology, can finally be applied to business.

5. The Leader from Hope by Harry Hutson and Barbara Perry
Most business leaders shy away from the word “hope.” Yet hope has been shown to be the key ingredient of resilience in survivors of traumas ranging from prison camps to natural disasters. So if you are an executive trying to lead an organization through change, know that hope can be a potent force in your favor. And it’s yours to give.

6. An Emerging Hotbed of User-Centered Innovation * by Eric von Hippel
Most countries, developing and developed alike, view innovation as a vital input to their economic growth and spend varying portions of their national budgets to support it in companies and research labs, for the ultimate benefit of essentially passive consumers. Denmark is taking a different tack: It’s making “user-centered innovation” a national priority.

7. Living with Continuous Partial Attention by Linda Stone
“Continuous partial attention”—distinct from multitasking—is an adaptive behavior that presumably allows us to keep pace with the never-ending bandwidth technology offers. Now there are signs of a backlash against the tyranny of tantalizing choices.

8. Borrowing from the PE Playbook by Michael C. Mankins
Company coffers are overflowing these days, and inevitably executives are turning to the M&A markets in their quest to put the cash to good use. If they’re to avoid repeating the disappointments of previous M&A waves, they will have to take a few leaves from the acquisition playbook of private equity firms.

9. When to Sleep on It by Ap Dijksterhuis
Use your conscious mind to acquire all the information you need to arrive at a difficult decision, but don’t try to analyze it. Instead, go on holiday and let your unconscious mind digest the information for a day or two. Whatever your intuition then tells you is almost certainly going to be the best choice.

10. Here Comes XBRL by Robert G. Eccles, Liv Watson, and Mike Willis
A new software standard for financial and business reporting, soon to be adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will make it dramatically easier to generate, validate, aggregate, and analyze business and financial information—which in turn will improve the quality of the information companies use to make decisions.

11. Innovation and Growth: Size Matters by Geoffrey B. West
Newfound general mathematical relationships between population size, innovation, and wealth creation challenge the conventional wisdom that smaller innovation functions are more inventive. They may explain why few organizations today have matched the creativity of a giant like Bell Labs in its heyday.

12. Conflicted Consumers by Karen Fraser
Your customer data indicate strong consumer satisfaction: Repeat purchase levels are high, and many customers have been with you for years. Good news, right? Well, appearances can be deceptive. Buried in the data may be a “stealth” segment of apparently loyal customers whose ethical concerns make them ready to bolt as soon as an alternative emerges.

13. What Sells When Father Knows Best by Phillip Longman
The link between conservatism and fertility is found throughout the world, and it portends a comeback for patriarchy and other traditional values. Business leaders must learn how to profit from, or at least prepare for, this trend.

14. Business in the Nanocosm by Rashi Glazer
Though the scientific and technological revolution that may occur as a result of nanotechnology has been much discussed, the sociocultural and business implications are of potentially much greater impact. Nanotechnology may change society over the next few decades just as much as information technology has over the previous few—and in ways that are still hard to grasp.

15. Act Globally, Think Locally by Yoko Ishikura
Companies are usually told to “think globally and act locally.” But thanks to their own global information systems and the Internet, knowledge from faraway places can be acquired relatively easily and cheaply. This means that firms have to discover and quickly incorporate good ideas from these diverse sources before their rivals do.

16. Seeing Is Treating by Klaus Kleinfeld and Erich Reinhardt
When several technologies can be leveraged simultaneously, the possibilities for real breakthroughs in medical care multiply. That is occurring today with the convergence of imaging technology and biotechnology, which promises to radically change the diagnosis and treatment of many chronic diseases, greatly benefiting both patients and the companies that serve them.

17. The Best Networks Are Really Worknets by Christopher Meyer
The assumption is that if you build a network platform, people will come. If you expect to get real value from your initiative, though, you must think hard and in advance about exactly what function you want the network to perform. That will help you choose the participants, the nature of their experiences, and the technology. In other words, put the work in “network” first.

18. Why U.S. Health Care Costs Aren’t Too High by Charles R. Morris
Contrary to popular belief, health care costs, broadly defined, are quite probably falling. It is spending that is rising, which is not the same thing at all. The benefits of health care for individuals, society, and the economy—such as getting people back to work faster—more than outweigh its direct costs.

19. In Defense of “Ready, Fire, Aim" by Clay Shirky
The bulk of open source projects fail, and most of the remaining successes are quite modest. Still, open systems are a profound threat to many businesses, not only because they outsucceed commercial firms but, more important, because they outfail them.

20. The Folly of Accountabalism by David Weinberger
Accountability has gone horribly wrong. It has become “accountabalism,” a set of related beliefs and practices that bureaucratize morality and make us believe we can control our lives by adhering to specific rules. But grown-ups prefer clarity and realism to happy superstition.

15 January 2007


Since we started the Sustainable Futures Foundation last year, I have been tracking what people are doing about implementing sustainable ideas. That brought the New Zealand company Celsias onto my radar, and I blogged last week about their website to track and trade carbon credits. I've been reading their very informative Celsias blog. Today, Craig Mackintosh spotlighted the Breathing Earth site in their Celsias blog.

Breathing Earth maps the carbon emissions and birth and death rates of every country in the world. Just mouse-over any country and see what is happening. This is a very interesting visualization of data.

David Bleja from Stillwater Microcosm has taken data from Wikipedia, the World Factbook and the United Nations. If he were able to map the real live data into this map, it would give us a live tool for watching our impact on the earth.

12 January 2007

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

The VisualLiteracy.org focuses on visual ways to create and communicate knowledge and insights. They use a didactic approach to teaching people how to develop their own visualization formats. They offer an e-learning course for building skills in visualization in order to build competence in communication.

They have developed an Ajax based Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. There are 6 different cell colors:
> yellow = data visualization
> light green = information visualization
> aqua = concept visualization
> light blue = strategy visualization
> pink = metaphor visualization
> light purple = compound visualization

Just mouse-over any of the cells and discover another way of charting, mapping or visualizing knowledge.

9 January 2007

The Big Question for 2007 from Edge

To celebrate their 10th anniversary (December 1996) Edge asks the 2007 Edge Annual Question:

John Brockman, Publisher & Editor of Edge, says:
"While conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting worse, scientists and the science-minded among us see good news in the coming years. That's the bottom line of an outburst of high-powered optimism gathered from the world-class scientists and thinkers who frequent the pages of Edge, in an ongoing conversation among third culture thinkers (i.e., those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are.)"

Read all 160 contributions for real inspiration.

So, what are you optimistic about this year?

I see positive movement toward taking responsibility for building a globaL socio-economic environment based on a full value stream - human capital, social capital, creative capital and transactional capital. One indicator is how discussions about global warming translate immediately into activities to reduce our carbon footprint by creating carbon credits. Another is a movement away from manufactured product driven business models into idea generated business models, which include social responsibility and ethical behavior into their value frameworks.

What do you see as optimistic indicators?

Last year, I responded to John Brockman's question in Edge's edition 175 from January 5, 2006 - What's your dangerous idea? My dangerous idea got a mention by a radio station in Boston in their Blogger RoundUp.

7 January 2007

Celsias.com Offers Carbon Credits as Currency

A New Zealand company has applied to patent Celsias.com, the world's first online community that allows regions, businesses or community groups to receive payments for reducing the carbon emissions from their everyday energy use. Celsias.com is built upon a fast growing global economy that recognizes energy savings - your carbon emission reductions or carbon credits - as a form of currency.

With Celsias you can now track, create and trade this new currency on the Internet.

Calculate the carbon footprint of your home, your business, your community group or any other entity. Create carbon credits for yourself by learning how to reduce your carbon emissions and by searching for and buying the world's most energy efficient products and services. Sell these carbon credits to other Celsias members anywhere around the world.

Follow their blog to keep up with what they're doing.

Register now on Celsias.com.