The world is in economic turmoil. As professionals we need to critically review all that we do and how we do it. What is our role, and are we up to it?

A far reaching question that raises many others.

The world is changing. It creates new leadership challenges. Who are the new leaders? How are they being developed? How do people give of their best? How can their organisations enable them to do this given the current situation?

Professionals engaged in developing people and organisations may be academics, consultants or practitioners. How interrelated are these roles? Is our work something to be proud of? Are we contributing to the chaos?

Working in complex contexts, we need the support of new voices a sharing of ideas and experimentation.  The time has come to challenge ourselves, re-evaluate what we have been doing - to rethink and reappraise?

AMED’s 2012 ‘New Thinking for Troubled Times’ series  of workshops engaged people who are pushing boundaries and wanting to explore.  In 2013 we want to tap into the network of radical doers and thinkers even more purposefully.

What will be the next cutting edge?

Will a grand overarching vision emerge – would it help?  

This is the springboard for our ‘Exploring Frontiers 2013’ face to face meeting of minds in the Autumn. Engage with this debate – to shape and drive forward our shared thinking. Share your thoughts, post your ideas and questions here. Or contact me if you’d like to have a conversation.

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Ned,

One thought prompted by this is to think about one of the by-products of the recent US Presidential Election, namely the voting preferences by demographics (Ethnicity, age, gender etc) and the realization that a step change has happened that is irreversible in terms of how future voting populations will look. There is some similar (less quantified data) about what happened in the Arab Spring, and is now happening in the UK. Pandora is out of the box.

For anyone in a leadership role (not just political, but also religious, social, corporate, etc) these trends (step changes?) are also significant: and are energized and accelerated in impact by the instant virtual communications exemplified by mobile Web based applications and social networks. 

Further complexity is the apparent polarization of rich and poor (both between and within countries), the 1493 scenarios, and the rather muted Davos discussions on climate change

So do we need to revisit a Gandhi type approach ('there go my people and I must follow them')? or try and revive or reinvent some models of authoritative leadership to provide some clarity or reassurance? 

My sense is that we need to take the 'frontiers' of the title as a physical reminder that our world is now inter-connected in a way that has never been seen before; also that the ways we have tried to distinguish and categorize leadership and leaders are now interconnected with other management and professional disciplines in ways that maybe we have tried to separate over the last few years. 

My hope is, therefore, that "our springboard" will encourage the involvement of people, opinions and views, who may not have previously seen benefit in attending a gathering that they would instinctively identify with a specific professional community: and indeed who may not see themselves as development oriented people?

I think we need to work hard to make this an open meeting space in attendance, structure and process: as implied in the title.

roger

Hi, Ned

In anticipation of this coming together in October, I wonder if it might be worth reflecting on our naming of it?

'Frontiers' (or possibly 'boundaries') have always been permeable or shifting.  Witness current concerns over illegal immigration and disputed territories.  Lines may be drawn on maps, but how significant are they, and what changing meanings do we ascribe to them?

One of the principles that draws me to AMED is that of 'engaging with overlapping, interacting and complementary networks', whose frontiers are virtually impossible to delineate precisely.  The interfaces between these networks and ideas are constantly shifting in size, shape and relevance.  Wouldn't it be marvellous if we could find a way to mirror this fluidity and essential ambiguity in the way that conversations take place during our Frontiers 'happening' itself? 

Perhaps we might regard it as a temporary marker or pause along the way, and take time to recognise all the elements that are flowing into it, such as the Autumn 2012 edition of e-Organisations and People on 'Wisdom in Organisations', and the Spring 2013 e-O&P post-publication event on 'Open Source Thinking' on 2/3 August @ http://http://www.amed.org.uk/events/open-source-thinking-possibili...,?  These are only two instances of how AMED has been contributing to this 'Frontiers' conversation in everything but name. And what are other people thinking about and experimenting with beyond AMED's 'frontiers'?

Perhaps the processes we adopt become the key to influencing the agenda that emerges and other actions and conversations that follow?  So perhaps this is simply a long-winded way of coming round to endorsing Roger's final sentence.

Best wishes.  Bob

What does this refer to, Roger?  

Roger James Niven said:

 the 1493 scenarios,

Ned launches a huge question about what the future holds and how we should respond.  (A friend of mine thought it was a bit "all over the place".  Might be a fair comment but how should it be?  Targeted?  Focused?  On what?  My friend seemed to suggest that the challenges could be identified and picked off, one by one, by campaign groups - although I'm sure I oversimplify his position.)  

Roger offers a thought - which grabs me by the throat - about a number of "irreversible step changes", as opposed to trends.  Yet our leaders believe (or say) they can design and implement policies to deliver predicted outcomes.  Of course, they have to say that or they wouldn't be elected to lead.  (Or do they?  Perhaps I should be more optimistic.)  

Maybe the processes that Bob refers to might be those we need when we can't know what to do.  I read a quote, attributed to former US President, Jimmy Carter, in which he asserts that people will always do the right thing if you can get them into the same room and stay with them for long enough.  

So returning to Ned's closing question, perhaps a grand vision will help.  It might elicit the new leadership we need to inquire our way into the chaotic possibilities of the future.  

David

Thanks for those thoughts, which lead me to raise points prompted by each ...

@Roger - How well do we understand what might be driving these 'irreversible step changes'? Is there any scope to 'predict' how such driving forces might shape the future?

@Bob - Explorers shape frontiers. As you rightly point out, AMED welcomes explorers.

@David - I'd like to hear more about how the 'challenges could be identified and picked off' - particularly in light of their interconnectedness.

Ned

What are our responses to complexity?  It seems commonplace now to recognise that we live in a complex world, and that our descriptions, models and recommendations need to take account of complexity. 

And to be useful, these need to have attractive elements, such as rays of simplicity.  SImple enough to inspire action, suggest possibility, allow for a way forward.

 

Interesting challenge, Paul.  I suppose fear of complexity may be one of the resisting forces which makes it difficult for people to let go of the need for certainty? 

Can we explore what you mean by rays of simplicity? 

"I need to be able to understand."  "No you don't.  Not really." 

"You can let go of obsessive planning, see what happens and make it up as you go along."   

Reviewing the discussion so far prompts me to think how much more can be opened up and discussed in a face to face setting.

Alert networkers and members will have seen the notice for the AGM (April 24th) and the f2f event which follows it. So make a point of getting along and joining in with the discussions then.

Ned

I'm wondering if in the face to face event you'd like us to do some work on foresight using the 3 Horizons tool?  We've developed a really quick way of getting people into thinking of futures and how to bridge between today and what will hit us (is likely to hit  us) in the next few years.  I have no idea what will come out of it; we can share the process and then we'll see.  Whatever happens it is great fun and very generative in energy.  You could use it as context setting... it certainly would help us explore things like where (and what) are the pockets of the future which are happening today....

Tricia

Tricia - It sounds interesting and a great offer, thanks.

At the moment the aim is to be very 'open space' in our approach to the face to face. So at the October event this could be an option to explore.

How about feeding some thoughts on what it is/ how it works into the discussion right now, and perhaps at the post AGM face-to-face event too. Tell me more...

Ned

Tricia Lustig said:

I'm wondering if in the face to face event you'd like us to do some work on foresight using the 3 Horizons tool?  We've developed a really quick way of getting people into thinking of futures and how to bridge between today and what will hit us (is likely to hit  us) in the next few years.  I have no idea what will come out of it; we can share the process and then we'll see.  Whatever happens it is great fun and very generative in energy.  You could use it as context setting... it certainly would help us explore things like where (and what) are the pockets of the future which are happening today....

Tricia

Are you missing out?


We'll be meeting on 24th April in London (after the brief AGM) for an open space workshop to explore issues further.


I'm co-guest editor for the summer edition of e-O&P. We're expecting articles about business ethics, decisions making, leadership challenges, organisational change etc - all reflecting on how professionals like us handle current challenges.

The online debate continues through the summer.


Then we'll be getting together again (October 8/9th) for a 'conference'  - so join in now.

Ned

I'm going to extend a 'conference' invitation to the authors who contributed to the two wisdom e-O&P editions. Some, through AMED membership, will know about the conference, some may not yet have noticed it, and some are not currently members. But I think it would be very fab to know that a posse of the interested would be able to convene itself as part of October's activities. My hope is that all will leave feeling deeply satisfied that they came.

I am curious to know, from anybody reading this, how they would articulate (the nature of) the invitation. Especially if you were at the April meeting I was unable to attend.

I look forward to thoughts. Thank you.

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