Archive for December, 2012

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Blog No. 15. Destination 2050: future maker and future taker. Toolkits for shaping the future part1

December 24, 2012

By Peter Ellyard.

One of the things all of us do all the time is we seek to shape the future.  Some of us are good at doing it and some of us are not.  And most of those who do this well are successful in charting and constructing their life and career paths. As well many of those who do this well are also the major shapers of our collective future, for great leadership is impossible without this. Those who do this badly are often left behind, and so the issue of growing humanity’s capability to shape the future is very important for realizing a more just future.

            We shape the future by two means. First we respond to changing circumstances and trends and position ourselves to gain advantage or avoid being disadvantaged. This is the future- taker part of us–the manager in each of us.  Second we envision a future, aspire to realize it and set about accomplishing this through strategic action. This is the future-maker art of us – the leader in each of us.  This critical difference between future-taker and future-maker was beautifully expressed by the serpent in G.B Shaw’s play ‘Back to Methuselah’ : You see things and say why. I see things that never were and say, why not?’ Our future shaping actions may be large of small and they might focus an hour ahead, a month ahead, a year ahead or a decade ahead. Gary Hamel says success goes to those who get to the future first, and to do that we need to become marvellous future-makers. Think about the number of times every day and every year you seek to shape the future, how you do it, and how often you act respectively as future-taker or future–maker. If you think your organization, community or nation is over-managed and under-led, and most people I meet think this is the case, this means we have too much future-taking and not enough future-making in our lives and organizations. Moreover the manager and leader in each of us is only two sixths of our toolkit for shaping the future.  More of this in a moment.

            Most of the time when we shape the future we don’t do so alone. We do so with either the active or implicit support of others. So our capacity to be an effective shaper of futures depends a great deal on of our ability to initiate, nurture and amicably end relationships, and our ability not to damage these relationships and even strengthen them, while we are collaborating to shape the future.

            Given that future shaping capabilities are so essential for creating successful lives, careers, organizations and communities, and that we differ so much in this capability, it is extraordinarily that so few of us are ever given the opportunity to improve our future shaping capabilities. Most of us battle on with our inherited skills and by learning from our experiences, particularly the negative ones. We can and should do a lot better than that.  We should and can become the best possible shaper of the future we can possibly be, and be as capable as we can be at initiating , nurturing  and amicably ending relationships.  In terms of ensuring our future success I would even consider these capabilities as important for success in life as are literacy and numeracy. Most of us go though our whole lives including all of our years formal education, without dedicating time or resources to learning to become more effective shapers of the future.

            In my last two books Destination 2050: a concepts bank and toolkit for future-makers (2012) and Designing 2050 : Pathways to sustainable prosperity on Spaceship Earth (2008),  I describe in detail my concepts bank and toolkit for shaping the future.

            In Destination 2050 I outline six major means we use to shape the future. These are:  

1 Leadership: being a purposeful future-maker.

2 Management: being a resilient future-taker.

3 Planning: applying planning skills such as those used in all the planning professions (which include land use, urban, community, transport, social, financial, industrial and economic planning).

4. Design: using designing skills such as those embedded in design based professions such as engineering, architecture, and of course all

forms of design (industrial, systems, fashion and graphic design)ESTINATION2050T U R E – M A K E RS

5. Innovation: developing new means (through what I call ways and wares) to do old and current things better, and new things first.

6. Learning : increasing our knowledge and capabilities, changing our mindsets and belief systems in order to become more future effective, and expanding our capability to seek and take new options and new pathways to the future.

            All of these future-shaping capabilities are so fundamental for our ultimate success in life they should be taught and learned in our schools from the first years of schooling. Some of these are formally taught in professional development courses at the tertiary education level but this is much too late, and this ensures that they remain an elite skill set not a universal one.  A top priority in our education systems should involve devising curricula and learning experiences that enable all of us learn these six tool kits for shaping the future in the primary school and from our parents. Knowledge learned in school is often forgotten but capability learned in school coupled with continuing experiential use will stay with us and grow throughout our lives as we tread our chosen life and career paths. The bottom line is that in  the 21st century our education should concentrate on developing capability rather than growing knowledge. Through the digital revolution and the rapid spread of mobile communications  devices even into poorer communities and nations we can acquire knowledge through learner –driven modes of learning and just- in-time for when we need it.  Capability however needs lots of practice and structured experiences. This is what schools do well. Probably 70% of all the job categories in a generation’s time have yet to be invented. It is therefore better to focus on growing capability rather than knowledge in our school systems and continue to grow and customize capability development for emerging opportunities in our workplaces and communities throughout our lives.

            In this blog I want to focus on the first two of these tools: management and leadership. I will devote other blogs to the remainder of these tools. 

The effective manager is the resilient future-taker in each of us, while the effective leader in each of us is the purposeful future-maker. Social justice should demand that we do not just learn leadership and management in business schools and professional development programs. We must make this curriculum and these capability-building experiences universal.  What is really behind this extraordinary failure to recognize that these capabilities should be universally accessible is the belief that management and leadership are elite programs for a minority rather than a birthright for the majority. We see management and leadership in particular as something we use to shape the future of others and that it is not a skill set we need to shape our own futures.  Behind all of my work is the idea that first of all we should learn to become both a manager-of-self and leader-of- self.  Indeed until we become good managers-of-self and leaders- of-self we should not be given the opportunity to become managers-of-others or leaders-of-others. Most of us have had the dreadful experience of being led or managed by somebody who is a poor manger-of–self or leader-of-self.  I’d go further and say that we must universalize effective the capabilities needed for design, planning, innovation and learning as well.  Only the last of these is currently regarded as a universal skill set for ensuring future success and here we are usually learning knowledge too much and capability not enough.   Most professional disciplines are built around only one or two or these shaping the future tools. These six tools are often seen as a skill sets relating to a particular profession or group of professions. However most planners are not highly skilled in leadership, innovation or design, engineers are similarly placed in planning or, and most educators know insufficient about management, planning or innovation and so on. My own learning has been to recognize that all of these six of these tools are actually parts of our collective toolkits for shaping the future and that all of us should develop at least some capability in all six of these early in life. It is time all six tools were taught and learned as a coherent whole set.

            Most of us don’t have a clear idea about the difference between management and leadership; we know that they are different but we seldom try to understand what the essential difference between management and leadership is. In my books and writings, I discuss at length the relationship and difference between management and leadership.  However central to this difference is this: management is dedicated to future-taking – and change-taking, while leadership is about future –making and change –making. Here is the bottom line:

Manager:

  • Future-taker
  • Change –taker
  • Path-taker

Good Management involves being resilient in these three activities

Leader:

  • Future-maker
  • Change-maker
  • Path- maker

Good leadership involves being purposeful in these three activities.

 Go to Destination 2050 and Designing 2050 to find a detailed discussion on management and leadership from a futures perspective. These books also describe the respective roles of planning, design, innovation and learning in shaping the future as well.

22 December 2012

peter@preferredfutures.org

 

 

             

 

 

 

 

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Blog No 14. Destination 2050. Planetism: what is it?

December 21, 2012

By Peter Ellyard

 

A year ago I gave a talk at the Golden Plains Music Festival in a small town of Meredith, 100 kilometres west of Melbourne. It was attended by 10,000 Generation Ys,  almost all of them university undergraduates: three days of music with me standing on the stage on the Sunday morning of a long weekend giving a talk on the future.

         Among the things I said was:

  • Tribalism is first allegiance to tribe
  • Nationalism is first allegiance to nation
  • Planetism is first allegiance to planet

I then asked them to vote on which of these three words most approximated their viewpoint and raise their hand accordingly.  I was blown away by the result. Almost 10,000 hands were raised in support of planetism.  The other two alternatives received less than 10 votes each. Many of them told me afterwards that they had not heard the word before but they knew is expressed perfectly their world view. Many also said to me that it was nice to have a name to describe the way they looked at the world.

         I first used the word planetism in 1993.  A Chapter called ‘The Birth of Planetism’ was included in my 1998 book ‘Ideas for the New Millennium’  (Melbourne University Press) so I think I can claim some copyright for the word. This book is now out of print though copies – mostly of the 2001 second edition – are still available on the Internet. My subsequent books have drilled down more into the meaning of planetism which is now a set of values held by the booming tertiary educated middle class that will reach 4 million plus globally by 2030 and which is growing at the rate of the population of New York City every three months.

         Now others are using the term as well including some who are clearly followers of James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. I have no problems with others using this word but I want to ensure that those who are interested in the word know about the meaning I give to it. If they want to access this discussion they might want to read one of my more recent books – Designing 2050: pathways to sustainable prosperity on Spaceship Earth (2008) and Destination 2050 : a concepts bank and toolkit for future-makers (2012)

         For me Planetism is the result of a convergence of two sets of paradigm shifts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries: 

  • From Modernism to Postmodernism to Planetism , and
  • From Tribalism to Nationalism to Planetism

My books describe these shifts in detail.

These transformations involve shifts in 10 core values as shown in the following table:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cowboy Culture/Modernism (1960)

The Spaceship Culture /Planetism (2020)

Priority to nation/tribe

Priority to planet

Individualism

Communitarianism

Autocracy

Democracy

Humanity against nature

Humanity part of nature

Unsustainable production, consumption,

development, lifestyles

Sustainable production ,

Consumption,

development, lifestyles

Patriarchy

Gender equality

Intercultural – interreligious intolerance/hostility

Intercultural -interreligious tolerance/harmony

Conflict resolution through confrontation/combat

Conflict resolution through cooperation/negotiation

Safekeeping through defence

Safekeeping through security

 

The terms ‘cowboy economy’ and ‘spaceship economy’ were first coined by Kenneth Boulding in his essay The Economics of the coming Spaceship Earth (1966) when he was influenced by the Apollo Project, as was Buckminster Fuller with his book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969). Much of my work follows on from both of their significant contributions. I describe modernism as the paradigm of the cowboy, and planetism as the paradigm of the cosmonaut.

       I thought it appropriate for those who google the word planetism were introduced to my work as well as the work of others who use this term. As a futurist I coined this term because I believe will be used a great deal more in the future, to describe emerging values and  ethics. Planetism will also inform emerging global markets and shape the global economy in the 21st century.

 

21 December 2012

peter@preferredfutures .org

  

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Blog No. 13. Destination 2050: Newtown Connecticut : this is actually part of an even bigger issue.

December 20, 2012

By Peter Ellyard

 

 The major political consequence of the massacre of children and teachers in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut this week has been the increased recognition, even by the pro gun lobby, that this is a consequence of permitting unlimited individual ownership of what are actually weapons of war.  Most people recognize that unlimited individual rights to own guns means that communities all over the USA will be much less safe. In the US the right to own guns is embedded in the 2nd Amendment to the US constitution.  At the time of that Amendment ‘guns’ meant ‘muzzle loaded muskets’. Guns have become more lethal than the writers of this amendment could have ever imagined, but unfortunately the attitudes of many gun owners to gun ownership are still stuck back in the late eighteenth century.  

            If a person went into a café in the USA or indeed most other parts of the world and lit a cigarette he/she would be justifiably treated as a pariah and asked to either stop smoking or leave the café. We recognize that that person’s smoking would cause collateral damage -harm – to others and most of us no longer tolerate such behaviour when we are threatened by it. The rights of the individual smoker in these circumstances must give way to the rights of the community. The US is as intolerant of smokers in cafes as is anybody in most parts of the world. This issue of finding the most appropriate balance between the rights of individuals and communities is central to the gun ownership debate in the USA, and smoking in cafes everywhere, and generically speaking it is perhaps the most important issue our emerging global community faces.

            Individualism implies that if there is a conflict between individual and community rights, individual rights must prevail, Communitarianism on the other hand says in such circumstances community rights must prevail. Getting the right balance between the rights of individuals and communities is actually the elephant in the global room as we face many global dilemmas of this kind.  Issues like climate change, dealing with the consequences of greedy bank behaviour, protecting the European community from destructive actions from some of its members, eliminating weapons of mass destruction from the Earth, creating peace in the Middle East, modifying the global trading system so that it is fair for all ,are just a few examples of this fundamental generic dilemma. Our global society is now so interdependent and interconnected that an action by one person, organisation or nation can threaten all of us.

            The USA is currently communitarian in terms of smokers rights but individualistic in terms of gun ownership. This inconsistency is unusual as the level of, and balance between, individualism and communitarianism , tends to be consistent across all major issues in most cultures.  If we extend our consideration of smoking in cafes to the whole planet we recognize that the ethics are When I have worked with coal and oil producers on shaping their future in emerging 21st century I discuss the smoker in the café. By 2030 zero industrial carbon emissions will be demanded all over the planet and those who dump industrial carbon into our atmosphere will receive the same opprobrium as a smoker in a café receives today.            Garrett Hardin in his famous essay ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ said the only way to ensure that individual and community rights are balanced in our emerging global society is the ask and answer the question’ what kinds of mutual coercion can we mutually agree upon?’ The bottom line is that all our solutions from now on must be crafted to result in win/win outcomes or otherwise there will be no agreement. Win/lose is no longer an option in our emerging interdependent planetary society. Indeed the issues the people of the USA must face both in deciding what to do in terms of gun control or avoiding the fiscal cliff for that matter, is to recognize that over time the whole world is becoming more communitarian. We have no choice but to recognized that humanity shares a common home and has a shared future and we must adapt accordingly or face the consequences of our failure to find agreement. Our warming global climate is the perfect illustration of this 21st century reality and of the consequences of our failure to reach agreement.

            John Donne said 400 years ago that ‘no man is an island’ and that ‘we are all involved in mankind’. Global realities today are forcing all of us to be ‘involved in mankind’ whether we like it or not.

            However becoming more communitarian does not mean that only alternative is to be less individualistic. It means that we must be differently individualistic. My definition of ‘sustainability’ is doing things and taking actions that produce zero net collateral damage to others. A sustainable lifestyle is one that enables us to enjoy our individuality in ways that does not threaten or harm others. Here the environment is our shared planetary home which we should not defile or endanger. By contrast a healthy lifestyle is enjoying our individuality in ways that do not cause collateral damage- harm – to self.  Some of this involves becoming smarter, creating innovations that enable us to achieve both of these.  In my books Destination 2050 and Designing 2050, I have a lot to say about innovating our way to global prosperity, harmony, sustainability, health, justice and security by the year 2050. Developing and marketing the innovations to achieve this a major component of the  emerging 21st century global economy. In my books and elsewhere I discuss the innovations not yet created that will do all the things we will need to achieve these outcomes over the next 38 years to the year 2050

            As the US wrestles with its gun ownership dilemma, it needs to recognize the generic aspects of this national conversation. This kind of conversation is needed more and more as we find ways to balance individual behaviour with responsibility to respect community rights. There is no bigger conversation we will need to have over the next 20 years than this one. But if we do it well we will create the innovations to help our emerging planetary society find new means to ensure that individual needs and community needs can simultaneously be met for the benefit of both .

 

19 December 2012

peter@preferredfutures .org

 

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Blog No.12. Destination 2050: the 21st century needs Utopian Realism

December 18, 2012

By Peter Ellyard

 

When we seek to shape the future we first imagine and choose a goal and second we develop and implement a strategy to realize it. In the 19th and 20th  centuries two competing philosophical approaches significantly informed how we might best shape the future: utopianism and realism. Historian and realist C.F. Carr described the difference between utopianism and realism respectively as between those who regard politics as a function of ethics and those who regard ethics as a function of politics. Traditionally utopians tended to inhabit the world dominated by the primacy of ideas and realists the world dominated by the primacy of power.

In the 20th century it was virtually impossible to consider shaping the future without being influenced by competing ideological perspectives: socialism versus capitalism, communism versus fascism, and democracy versus autocracy. Utopianism traditionally is regarded as the territory of the ideologically progressive – the political left. They envisioned preferred futures – what should be the future and committed themselves to what I call mission-directed strategic actions to realize their preferred future. Realists contended that utopians were too ambitious and bold in defining their goals, and noted that most utopians were often limited and impractical at devising effective means to fulfill their aspirations . Realists had a point as for the most part utopians only proposed two strategies for realizing their aspirations: either fomenting revolution that tears down the old with the aim of creating the new, or totally withdrawing from society and building the new from scratch outside it. In the 21st century where we recognize that humanity, like it or not, has a shared home and a shared future, withdrawing completely from society is less likely for the consequences of doing so means loss of opportunity to prosper through connection to global trade and investment. However whenever the old was torn down babies were usually thrown out with bathwater. Destruction was rampant  – the French and Russian Revolutions, Jonestown and the Year Zero of Pol Pot illustrate this fact. Democratic socialism was an attempt to combine somewhat more modest utopian goal setting with modest realistic strategic actions. However it still placed the government at the centre of change and regarded markets and capitalism generally as something they must live with and whose excesses should be tamed. By and large intervening in markets and capitalism to produce positive outcomes was not central to implementing their aspirations. In the 21st century democratic socialism began to shift towards ‘the Third Way’ where market economies and private investment are increasingly used to do more of the heavy lifting to create positive outcomes and lessen reliance on state investment characteristic of the USSR style ‘command economy’.

Realism on the other hand is the territory of the ideological conservative- the political right. Realism has been used to justify laissez faire approaches, the maintenance of the status quo, and minimalist action by government in shaping the future. In the main any action was aimed to consider probable futures – what will be the future- and to minimize harm or overcome problems rather than to create positive outcomes.  – this is what I call a problem-centred strategic action. If realism dominated all our thinking reform would be rare and always insufficient.

So utopianism fails mainly because the strategies designed to realize aspirations are ineffective or even worse, produce disaster, when action to realize them is initiated. And realism fails because its aspirations are mediocre , it aims to protect the status quo, and to institute change only when things go wrong.

In my last blog (No.11) I referred to Tony Giddens description of utopian realismthinking beyond the world we live in now, but with realistic ways of getting there. I also discussed the Apollo project which actually realized a previously thought to be impossible aspiration. I suggested that this was an example of utopian realism implemented before the term was invented.

In the polarized Modernist 20th century it would have been inconceivable to put these two words together into a single framework. They were conceived as two conflicting and opposing ways of shaping the future. Postmodernism however encourages us to appropriate from diverse ways of knowing and different cultural approaches- both old and new- and combine these to create new ways of doing things. In the modernist past we used to think that environment and development were incompatible yet we are now combining these into new conceptual frameworks. In my own work I have introduced the concept of sustainable prosperity, two words that were regarded as incompatible in modernist times, but to me are totally complementary in the postmodern present and the emerging planetist future.  Both realism and utopianism failed individually as effective shapers of the future. However we can now be very postmodern and combine the lofty envisioning characteristic of utopianism and the realistic strategic action making of realism: we can bring these together into a new 21st century relevant framework. In doing this we are combining the advantages of both utopianism and realism and eliminating  the disadvantages of both of these- a very postmodern approach. This is a win/win outcome. This way we can imagine and initiate major changes through uplifting and utopian visions and seek to use existing tools to realize them, by implementing proven strategies to realize these aspirations and with means that do not create unacceptable levels of collateral damage. Indeed my core definition of sustainably is doing things in ways that that produce zero net collateral damage to others and the environment. I have embraced the concept of utopian realism because it involves thinking and acting in ways I have done for decades.

            Destination 2050 :  realizing universal prosperity, sustainability, harmony, justice and security by the year 2050 is a utopian goal. However my strategic toolkit for realizing this future is built on my 20 years experience as a public sector CEO. It is described in my books and other writings. My very realistic six tools for shaping the future to realize this utopian Destination 2050 are known to all who have read my books or know my work.

Our young are already moving into the utopian realist space.  Generation Y does not look at the world through the ideological lenses that is embedded in the thinking of my generation. And they are not joining political parties who for the most part are still trapped in ideological modes of thinking.  However Generation Y is as committed to building a better future as I am. They recognize that the command economy is dead and the market economy can be driven into new positive directions through their own entrepreneurship and collaborative consumer action driven through social media and other means. They are beginning to deliver revolutionary levels change without the immense collateral damage characteristic the revolutionary change of yesteryear. And they are founding businesses to accomplish visionary aspirations. They want to economically prosper while doing ecological, social and cultural good. They believe in sustainable prosperity, they believe in utopian realism, and they are planetists – even if they do not recognize any of these terms.

I am a natural utopian realist but I don’t meet many like me in people closer to my own age. I meet many frustrated utopians who are still blaming the tools of change such as capitalism, technology, and globalization for all the ills of the world, without recognizing these same tools equally can equally be used to realize the aspirations they yearn for if the use of these tools is informed by planetist values. On the other hand I also meet many timid realists who go through their lives without imagining things that never were and saying why not? – to quote G.B Shaw. They focus on making minor change- mostly solving problems that impede ‘progress’, and protecting their own interests. In our emerging 21st century interconnected interdependent global society the acceptable way of constructing change is through crafting win/win outcomes, not win /loss so characteristic of both sides of the ideological divide in the 20th century.

Even though I have only embraced utopian realism after Destination 2050 went to press a month ago, I recognize that my books are actually manuals for would-be utopian realists – which is my pathway to purposeful future-making

In my own work I have been criticized by both realists who think that I am an impractical dreamer and utopians who tell me I have sold out to ‘the market’. So I must be doing something right. My utopian critics are mostly in the media and academia and watch things happen but rarely make things happen. On the other hand many of my former colleagues in bureaucracies are unrepentant realists who distrust the making of utopian aspirations, and who for the most part envision small and seek to only make changes at the margin.

The time is right for us embrace utopian realism as the best way forward for creating a 21st century global society we all yearn for and one that is worthy of our best selves. Both Destination 2050 and Designing 2050 stress that this aspiration is within reach by the year 2050 and offers the toolkit for the realistic realization of these utopian goals.

 

18 December 2012

peter@preferredfutures.org

 

 

 

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Blog No.11. Destination 2050 : to realise it we need utopian realism but not pragmatic idealism.

December 14, 2012

Tony Giddens – Baron Giddens for he is a UK Labour peer-  is a distinguished English thinker and change maker/catalyst. He has been and still is a major contributor to the conceptual base of sociology over decades and was the initiator of ‘The Third Way’ implemented by the New Labour government of another Tony whom Giddens was close to, namely Tony Blair. I am a life-member of the Australian Labor Party , and I have  worked within the parliament of public policy with ministers, and I spent two decades as a CEO of public sector organisations, trying to both encourage visionary public policy and translate visionary public policy aspirations into realistic outcomes on the ground.  I also support non-ideological  ‘Third Way’ thinking myself. Therefore it is not surprising that I am sympathetic with much of his thinking.  

 

Giddens is now promoting what he calls utopian realism’.  I find this pair of words uplifting. His definition of utopian realism: thinking beyond the world we live in now, but with realistic ways of getting there . Tony Blair in 2000 at the WEF in Davos introduced the concept of pragmatic idealism. It might be thatGiddens had something to do with this word twin pair as well. Tony Blair said something else in that speech that matters.   He had the view that just as ideology shaped the 20th century, often with disastrous results, ideals should shape the 21st century. However he also said that these ideals should be pragmatic – realizable.  I interpret his doctrine as saying that we should prepared to downsize our idealistic vision if necessary when we can’t imagine the means, or find the resources, to realize our original aspirations.  

 

I do not resonate to pragmatic idealism as I do to utopian realism.  As I sought to compare these apparently similar concepts I was surprised to find while they appeal somewhat equally to my head they produce totally different responses in my heart. And in my heart utopian realism sings while pragmatic idealism does not.  As I drilled down to consider the reason for this responsive difference,  I thought about the Apollo Program and Mission- harking back to 1961 when Kennedy told the people of the US that he  wanted the US to go to the moon and back by the end of that decade. When Kennedy  gave that speech nobody had clue how it might be accomplished. But nobody sought to downsize that aspiration saying that perhaps we should take 20 years rather than less than a decade, or aim to just to put a person into orbit around the Earth without aspiring to go on to the moon. Because this project was a presidentially initiated and well funded program that was important for national prestige- the mission to the moon and back was first invented and then accomplished on time and somewhat over budget.  The Apollo program asked Americans people to stretch themselves, think more creatively, and innovate more purposefully to realise this clearly utopian destination. People around the world were inspired and uplifted by watching the project unfold over a decade. From the EarthRise photographs taken from Apollo 8 humanity saw our fragile and beautiful planetary home for the first time. This moment was a tipping point. Looking at these photographs humanity was forced for the first time to recognize that it had shared home and shared a future.  My conclusion was that the Apollo Program was an exemplar of utopian realism but was not an example of pragmatic idealism. To me the  difference between utopian realism and pragmatic idealism is stark. With the Apollo project I think utopian realism  would have  accomplished the mission  while pragmatic idealism  would have produced failure.

 

Utopian realism means that as we aspire to shape the future we should never downsize our aspirations because of the demands of realism. If we do our inspiration and purposefulness will also lessen . Seeking more pedestrian aspirations will certainly produce more pedestrian strategies to realise them. However while we must not let realism downsize our aspirations we should be prepared to let realism inform out outcomes. We should be prepared to accept receiving half-a-loaf even if we hoped to receive a full loaf: for we can accept that half-loaf and then rededicate ourselves to search for a means to obtain the other half-loaf.  The bottom line is that we must never downside our aspirations but we should be realistic about the outcomes.

 

Both my books Designing 2050 and Destination 2050  ask the reader to imagine a planetary society in the year 2050 that is universally prosperous, sustainable, harmonious, just and secure- just five key words. This fits Giddens’ criterion of looking a world beyond the world of today. In my own futures terminology this involves imaging leadership-driven, vision-generated preferred-future or possible- future prospects but not management-driven prophecy-generated probable -future or prospective-future prophecies . It involves imagining a future well beyond what is present now- a future that will never be realised if we just proceed with more of the same, business as usual.  It also involves crafting a strategy – creating a project – that enables humanity to achieve this on schedule and within budget.  Ralph Waldo Emerson describes this aspiration marvellously:  Do not follow where the path may lea d. Go instead whee there is no path and leave a trail.    

 

This difference is also invoked by the serpent in The George Bernard Shaw’s 5-play cycle Back to Methuselah, where the serpent said ;   You see things and say why. I see things that never were and say why not.  Yes we need a lot more utopian realism .

 

Some of us are utopian realists by nature- I am this way by nature- but if we need more utopian realism in our discourse and negotiations- and I share Giddens’ view that we do –  we need to create concepts banks and  toolkits that enable all who wish embed utopian realism in their mindsets to do so.   Much of my work is dedicated to doing just this.

 

I have known about pragmatic idealism from 12 years and did nothing with it. Interesting that!  Clearly it did not mean much to me but when I contrasted it with utopian realism I was writing this blog within 24 hours. Thank you Tony Giddens !

 

Peter Ellyard 12/12/2012