A LIGHT-HEARTED AND DEADLY SERIOUS BOOK TO SPARK CONVERSATIONS AMONG GLOBAL CITIZENS.
An exploration of the world we wish to live in and leave behind.
SEATTLE, WA., (Jan 1, 2016) – In an era of political ineptitude that erodes trust, conflict that spawns refugees, corporate behavior that harms, consumption patterns that are unsustainable, technology that enables while displacing workers, policies that marginalize people and pretend as though the earth’s resources are infinite, and a host of other human follies — we need new thinking, fresh conversations, and bold actions. Frankly, we need a little hope. Escape the present and explore a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, is a dreamer’s handbook.
In this book, Olson shows us what is possible, sparking our imaginations. No doubt you’ll recognize some ideas as recurrent themes that dreamers have envisioned before. Some ideas will entertain you while others will inform you. The future is not divorced from the present or the past. Olson provides historical context and primers along the way to best prepare our minds. Entrepreneurs face technological hurdles. And, they have to overcome social, cultural, and political opponents who would prefer to keep things as they are. The impossipreneur is the courageous entrepreneur who pushes headlong against these forces. Things are only impossible until they are not.
In this hopeful journey through tomorrow Olson challenges each of us to think differently, spark our own conversations, and play a role in nudging the world forward to create a better future for all across most all of life’s categories including: Health & Beauty, Love & Relationships, Wealth & Economy, Transportation, Food & Comfort, Social, Environment, Politics & Crime, Family & Pets, the World of Work, and Compunications. What the world needs now is for good global citizens to rise up together, not in revolution and in more conflict, but in a culture of care, with informed engagement, to spark new thinking and new dialogue. It’s time we all had an honest conversation about the world we wish to live in a leave behind. This book is essential reading for global citizens concerned with a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.
Gregory Olson is the author of The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true. He founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. A lifelong learner, his formal education includes a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social investor and financial institution, Oikocredit International.
The nature of politics is polarizing, it has been and will be. With various stakeholders involved in internal and external affairs, governing a body politic will necessarily create tensions between opposing points of view.
Conflict itself is not the problem; discourse is healthy. In a civilized society, we debate, hold forums, investigate, tweet, post, blog, and otherwise share, opine, and converse. We no longer duel to the death, resort to fisticuffs, or otherwise inflict bodily harm on those who disagree with us.
The problem is when facts become assaulted or when politicians and wannabe politicians conveniently create new “facts” when existing facts don’t fit their ideology. It is a dangerous and destructive path when facts no longer represent reality. Because, by definition, they have to.
Expunging the facts and resorting instead to some ideology is akin to mythology. It might make for good lore among followers but doesn’t have a credible place in governing. If we want to make real human progress we’ll have to begin a journey of becoming reacquainted with reality and the healthy conversations that accompany it.
The assault on facts goes beyond political circles. At work, in your home, and in your community, you are either a witness to, defender of, or perpetrator of this assault on facts. The same is true in the board room. When society disregards facts, we open the doors to more scandalous corporate and political behavior. I think we’ve all had a long enough go at war, strife, and manufactured economic crises.
“Don’t get so set on your goal that you lose your humanity.” Cicero
As John Lennon said, “Give peace a chance.” Let’s begin our investment in human progress by accepting and confronting our collective reality. When politicians and corporate leaders don’t, then let’s reject them and their blinding ideology relegating them to history books containing other mythological creatures and beliefs.
about the author
Gregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossipreneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. It’s a dreamer’s handbook with “impossible” ideas including the Truth Sculpture, Data Observatory, Propaganda for Good Network, Truth Machine Intelligence Service, Truth Ticker, Empathy Builder, Make Meaning Department, and more.
Greg is a business and marketing consultant who founded strategy and design firm, Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers success will follow. He also believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.
Yes, chicken feed, as in a meaningless pittance. The conversation about employment falls short of what is needed.
This blog post is actually inspired by a friend of mine. She is a smart, educated science teacher that in spite the cries for more women needed in STEM jobs she remains among those experiencing long-term unemployment. In response to a recent article about how states are confronting high long-term unemployment (original article here ) she shared this comment.
“My state has decided to sweep us all under the rug and pretend we do not exist. SO much easier that way!! You do not HAVE to deal with it then, as long as you can hide all of us in plain site.”
We live in an era of make-believe.
It is a bit reminiscent of another time in recent history when officials banned the word tornado. They didn’t want to cause panic. The result was tornadoes still happened and in the absence of warnings, more people and property were unnecessarily harmed, or worse. See related article here.
When we make things visible we can then actually decide to act differently. If we don’t believe in the viruses and bacteria that are invisible to the naked eye then the conversations about preventing infectious diseases are pretty short. We accept germ theory as reality today, but that was not always the case. Before 1880 physicians and scientists believed that diseases such as cholera, chlamydia or the Black Death were caused by bad air. This was referred to as Miasma theory and was in place since ancient times. Learn more here.
Today, we are still lingering in the aftereffects of a global economic meltdown. Some are working too much; others not enough. Save for the extremely wealthy, many have had their fortunes trimmed and debts amassed. The American [insert country here] Dream has been scaled down for many. This seems to be part of the new normal, at least for now.
The World of Work Has Changed.
There are many things that have contributed to a structurally changed world of work. We have witnessed the flight of capital to low cost regions, the shuttering of businesses old and new, the avoidance of taxes by large corporations, increased consolidation in many industries, the resulting financial hardship of municipalities, the creation of exponential organizations that employ a disproportionately small number of people compared to the large number of people they serve (see WhatsApp as a classic example – 55 employees, $19 billion purchase price, 100’s of millions of customers), a gig economy where workers’ rights have largely evaporated, an anti-labor movement by many politicians (some even repealing the weekend), the financial engineering that manipulates markets and even the books of entire economies as we recently learned about Goldman Sachs and Greece. What country or state will pop up next as problematic?
Add to this, an increasing world population and technology that continues to advance and the world might arguably need fewer workers today and in the future. There is too little discussion and proposed solutions in the crossover from the old economy that is still shedding jobs and the new economy that doesn’t create them fast enough. With the most recent announcement Microsoft will have now shed 1/5 of its workforce in recent years. What if our thinking and conversations about the economy and jobs are antiquated. When our ready made patterned solutions don’t seem to be working maybe it is time for change, time to invent new patterns. Making things visible and having a different conversation would be a great start.
Confronting reality is also needed.If we aren’t looking at real employment numbers for the unemployed, under-employed, and those that are super-employed working too many hours, then we really can’t have an meaningful adult conversation about what might be required to improve the plight for the residents of a nation.
Imagine if the U.S. census utilized the same land-line telephone survey methods that the BLS uses for arriving at unemployment numbers. It would be wholly inadequate and it would actually violate the constitution that requires an accurate census every 10 years. See how the census works. I would not be shocked if the many cogs in the BLS machine felt this inadequacy, but lack the courage to sound the alarm, for fear they too, will join the ranks of those they presume to measure.
If, as a nation, we can include all people in a census, file taxes electronically, manage social security and a host of other big government data challenges, then can’t we also design and implement a meaningful index to measure the prosperity of a nation’s inhabitants. Of course we can. This is a solvable problem; it isn’t the equivalent of “jumping to the moon under your own power.”
GDP and corporate profits can be up and to the right, while at the same time, those that helped it get that way may experience personal decline in terms of real wages, household wealth, and overall prosperity.
Aggregate GDP and UI numbers roll up from individual human inhabitants that reside within a nations borders. Local governments and state governments have a easier problem to solve – the borders are simply smaller. A sorely needed innovation in government is the roll-up of meaningful numbers from households, to neighborhoods, to cities, to states, to regions, to countries. This isn’t unique to the United States.
The Legatum Index is a move in the correct direction. The Legatum Institute’s signature annual publication is the Legatum Prosperity Index™, a unique global assessment of national prosperity based on both wealth and well being. This Index is the main vehicle through which the foundations of prosperity are explored. The Index ranks countries based on their performance in eight sub‐indices, including Entrepreneurship & Opportunity, Governance, Personal Freedom, Health, and Social Capital. While not working from the individual level, it does at least take into account a multitude of factors when looking at the comparative prosperity of populations. Learn more about their fine work here or watch the video.
With respect to jobs, the jobless recovery, and all things employment, we’ve returned to an era of noxious air. But, the bad air in play today isn’t from rotting organic matter as it was in Miasma theory.
Rather, it is from politicians and economic royalists that have much to protect by ignoring our current collective reality and instead protecting a system that primarily benefits them at all costs.
When we start measuring human prosperity we can then put in place policies that help increase that prosperity. It is a bit reminiscent of the Declaration of Independence and the “people first” reforms of the Roosevelt era.
In the current political climate I wouldn’t hold your breath for such change, but meanwhile you might want to cover your nose. If this article resonates with you, please share it with other on behalf of the many that remain silent and invisible.
about the author
Gregory Olson is the author of The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true. As discussed in Chapter 14 of The Experience Design Blueprint, the world of work has changed. And, it is not coming back as we knew it. In this chapter, there is prescriptive guidance for:
established small businesses
retirees and volunteers
Congress and other policy makers
and co-working spaces everywhere.
His latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. Chapters in L’ impossipreneurs that pertain to this article include Ch 5: Wealth and Economy and Ch 12: World of Work.
Gregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.
The world of work has changed and it’s not coming back as we once knew it. Whether you are the chief people officer at the top, leading a department, or forging the way forward as an individual contributor, you’ve by now realized the new normal is not like the last normal.
Forces Beyond Your Control
Some forces acting on your organization are out of your control: industry consolidation, globalization, public policies of all sorts, advances in technology, a flight to values, demand for increased transparency, distrust of government and banks and cable monopolies, shifting workforce demographics, etc.
But, this doesn’t mean you are powerless, ineffective, and should sit on the sidelines. Of course, you could choose to do nothing. But, that usually isn’t a very good option for getting a desirable outcome. Your proverbial ship will eventually hit the reef ahead if you don’t veer port or starboard. You must take action. The annals of company histories are chock full of such victims that witnessed innovation from the sidelines. The marketplace is an unforgiving lover; your’e hot when your’e hot, and forgotten when you’re not. Size or tenure do not insulate you from marketplace realities.
Some Sobering Facts:
companies are running leaner than ever
employees feel insecure and overworked
work is increasingly specialized
leaders are forced to do more with less
employee engagement has declined and loyalty has evaporated in both directions
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
Don’t look to the media, politicians, and economist for answers. You won’t find relevant prescriptions there. What you will find is self serving rhetoric bordering on sensationalism and focused on getting somebody elected or re-elected. They each have an agenda that is unlike yours and certainly not like your customers, employees, vendors, partners, or communities you occupy. The correct prescription is to do what is right for the business and all of its stakeholders. So, what the hell is a business leader to do?
Here are 5 Actions Business Leaders Can Initiate Now
If you are a leader by committing to these 5 actions, you will help your company and the economy at the same time. If you are not the business leader you don’t have to sit on the sidelines while your organization unravels. Consider today the “elbow nudge the leader at work day.” For additional clarity on any of the following 5 actions see the slideshare.net presentation below or my book, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healther Organizations. Pay particular attention to Chapter 14: The World of Work Has Changed.
Create an innovation neighborhood. Stock it, in part, with outside entrepreneurs. Add fractional talent that you cannot attract for a job, but would still like to work with your organization. Shake things up by adding “entrepreneur seasoning.”
Recognize and abolish your internal innovation hurdle (IIH). It’s really ok that your next business opportunity may only be a $ 20 million business as opposed to a $ 1 billion business. Small is the new big – get used to it and get good at it or you’ll be a Berlin Wall remnant.
Treat people with dignity and respect . Add people to give current employees more capacity. Stop fear mongering tactics, period. Reduce executive pay before shedding employees upon bad news. The raving fans you build start inside your own organization. You are at a disadvantage if you don’t start there.
Adapt your non-discriminatory policy to include the unemployed and especially the long term unemployed and veterans. Reprimand or fire those that break the policy. Go for diversity in everything. If everybody inside your organization looks and acts the same – your organization’s unwinding has already begun.
Be more collaborative by sponsoring, using the talent within, and becoming a resident of co-working spaces.
Need help with any of these or want to discuss? Please get in touch.