April 12, 2017

The Season of Organizational Renewal

Over a sandwich at a local shop the other day, a colleague asked why I care so much about the utility of the strategic narrative framework for ‘legacy’ institutions, which are historically successful, but have become overgrown, complex and challenged by changing circumstances. “I have always thought that the most powerful achievements come from having …

April 4, 2017

Complexity, Explained: A Review of Overcomplicated, Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

If you haven’t yet read Samuel Arbesman’s Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension (Random House, 2016) I hope you will soon. This improbably short book does three things magnificently well: It explains the befuddling fact that we now live with technological systems so complex that even the engineers who built them do not necessarily understand their …

March 28, 2017

How to Successfully Predict the Future … and Still Fail to Impact it

If you successfully identify the future consequences of contemporary actions, and no one acts on your prediction, does it matter? A senior manager developing an internal strategic foresight program recently asked me to identify some cases in which people ascertained the future outcomes of actions in the present. He wanted to know what methods they …

March 6, 2017

The Neuroscience Behind Strategic Narrative

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/92517414/

Several generations of increasingly advanced science now tell us that the insights of novelists and filmmakers have an empirical basis in our brain chemistry.  This should be a clarion call for every leader, because when our stories are dysfunctional, we are dysfunctional, both as individuals and as members of groups. The machine view of humans …

May 4, 2016

If You Want to Generate Strategies for Future Success, Start with Narratives and Metaphors

Terms like metaphor, myth, story  and narrative are not necessarily the first that come to mind when considering how to develop a future-facing national strategy.  But they should be.  This point was made in brilliant ways by the participants at the Atlantic Council’s second annual Global Strategy Forum in Washington DC earlier this week. Metaphors …