Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ten critical elements for an open innovation culture

Stefan Lindegaard, INTRAP

In our Leadership+Innovation community on LinkedIn, Chris Thoen who is a R&D Director at Procter & Gamble, asked which elements are needed in order to create an open innovation culture. Our community had an interesting discussion and I want to share the key elements that came up.

- Willingness to accept that not all the smart people work for your company. We need to work with smart people inside and outside our company.

- Willingness to strive for balance between internal and external R&D. External R&D can create significant value; internal R&D is needed to claim some portion of that value.

- Willingness to give part of the control to others. We don’t have to originate the research to profit from it. We don’t need to control everything from the cradle to the grave.

- No need to always be first. Building a better business model is better than getting to market first.


Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism

This was an interesting and thought provoking book. The author, Richard Wolf, has written an intriguing and valuable history of the development of democratic capitalism. I found this part of the book very valuable. I also learned from his distinctions and history of the development of socialism and communism. He reverts back to the ideas of Karl Max and defines capitalism not in terms of markets and private property to ideas based on the means and goals of production:

“A capitalist system is, then, one in which a mass of people-productive workers-interact with nature to fashion both means of production (tools, equipment, and raw materials) and final products for human consumption. They produce a total output larger than the portion of that output (wages) given back to them.
The wage portion sustains the productive workers: it provides their consumption and secures their continued productive labor. The difference between their total output and their wage portion is called the "surplus," and it accrues to a different group of people, the employers of productive laborers: capitalists.

The capitalists receive the surplus from the productive laborers by virtue of a wage labor contract entered into between capitalist and worker. This wage labor contract specifies a particular commodity exchange. The capitalist agrees to buy-pay the worker regularly for-her or his labor time. The worker agrees to sell her or his labor time to the capitalist. The worker further typically agrees to use the tools, equipment, raw materials, and space provided by the capitalist. Finally, the worker agrees that the total output emerging from her or his labor is immediately and totally the private property of the capitalist
The productive laborers-those who produce the surplus-use the wages paid to them by the capitalists to buy the goods and services they consume and to pay personal taxes. The capitalists use the surplus they obtain from their productive employees to reproduce the conditions that allow them to keep obtaining surpluses from their productive employees. For example, they use part of their surplus to hire supervisors to make sure the productive laborers work effectively.

They use another part to pay taxes to a state apparatus that will, among other activities, enforce the contracts they have with their workers. They use another part of the surplus to sustain institutions (churches, schools, think tanks, advertising enterprises) that persuade workers and their families that this capitalist system is good, unalterable, and so on, so that it is accepted and perpetuated.

The workers who sign contracts with capitalist employers fall into two categories. Productive laborers are those directly engaged in the production of the goods and services that their employers sell; their labor yields the surplus that employers receive and distribute to reproduce their positions as capitalists. The term "unproductive laborers" refers to all those engaged in providing the needed context or "conditions of existence" for productive workers to generate surpluses. The unproductive laborers have their wages paid and their means of work provided by capitalists. The latter distribute parts of the surplus they get from productive laborers to pay and provide for the unproductive laborers.

In short, the capitalist economic system divides people into three basic economic groups: productive laborers, capitalists, and unproductive laborers. Just as the social context for the economic system-politics and culture-shapes and influences the economy, so the reverse also holds. To focus on a society's economic system, as this book does, does not mean that economics is any more important than politics, culture, or nature in the interaction among them that shapes every society. My focus on the capitalist economic system is driven chiefly by the widespread neglect of this dimension of today's social problems.”

He discusses the transition from private capitalism to regulated capitalism, and private capitalism to state capitalism (referred to by many as socialism). He makes little distinction between communism and socialism. And, he introduces the ideas of social capitalism.

The author develops his ideas for worker self directed enterprises. He introduces what I think is an unfortunate acronym “WSDE”. Weapons of mass destruction come to mind, “WMD”.  I found the latter part of the book discussing WSDEs to be a stretch and tedious. It’s certainly idealistic, and I am in no position, as a non expert, to judge this idea. I only know that it will be very difficult to gain acceptance and usage of this concept except in very special cases. There are just too many unknowns, and the barriers are enormous. The entire political-social-economic system is structured to fight this type of change. And, it’s not just the U.S. It’s the whole world.

Yet, here we are. All well known economic -political-social systems have either failed, are in crisis or are headed for a crisis. Let’s stay open and keep talking.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Evolution of Music

William Calvin  in his excellent book The Cerebral Symphony, speculates in the excerpt reprinted below about how music evolved in us. It is one of the unsolved riddles of natural selection. The occasion he writes about here is The Woods Hole Cantata, a once a year performance by the scientists at Woods Hole  who are also musicians.

“Many of the musicians, and most of the audience, are making their once-a-year appearance in church with this evening of music.  Quite a few scientists in my acquaintance are accomplished musicians who had to make a difficult choice between continuing their musical careers and their scientific careers. And so the weeks of practice for this night are a joy to such scientists, a chance to exercise their considerable skills once more. My choral career evaporated, alas, when my voice changed, but performances in church still have a special quality for me from having once been on the other side, singing Latin words that I didn't understand.

The pews and aisles were packed by the time I arrived. But I have, arguably, the best seat in the house: A commanding view, excellent acoustics, room to stretch my legs during the concert, and I can even imitate conducting the chorus because I am out of sight at the rear of the church and few people will see me. There is only one slight drawback: One dares not fall asleep, under penalty of falling one floor and landing in the cellar below, undoubtedly with a great crash. I have the window sill above the cellar stairs, and I am wedged in, thanks to a mountain-climbing technique known as chimney bridging that I last used at Matkatamiba in the Grand Canyon. But there isn't the usual danger of becoming drowsy: I also have an excellent supply of fresh air, because the window is open. During pauses, I can hear it softly raining outdoors.

Much of the great music is church music, written to celebrate the faith and attract others to it. And so here with the Mass in F we have one of Bach's "Missae breve," descended from the Gregorian chants of the medieval Catholic Church, written for Lutheran services in Leipzig in the early eighteenth century, sung in a nineteenth-century Episcopal church on Cape Cod by and for a collection of late-twentieth-century scientists who would explain the world in very different terms from those used by many churchgoers.

Yet science is descended from the same roots as the philosophy of Bach and Handel; Newton surely considered himself to be attempting to understand deeply his Creator's works. In most cultures, there is little distinction between religion-philosophy- science; even in Western civilization, they were all one subject until only a few centuries ago, when religious and natural philosophy split apart, the former becoming theology and the latter again splitting in the last century to become science and what we now call philosophy. The scientists of Bach's time surely considered church music their music, not that of another tradition.

But music is music: It can stand by itself, transcending the centuries independent of rational and irrational beliefs about other things. No one really approaches modern religion like the proverbial cultural anthropologist from outer space ("But they organize all their good deeds around this gruesome symbol of torture, and their highest ritual is playacting cannibalism, and they constantly reaffirm their own version of what in other cultures they call magic and animism. They seem to expect members to check their brains at the church-house door!"). Yet cultures cannot simply start over fresh with a new vocabulary and new traditions untainted by past enthusiasms and misunderstandings; it is simply too easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Instead, religions rationalize the past in various ways and go on from there with the real business: relieving suffering and building hope and advancing understanding. The philosophers and scientists have merely become the understanding specialists over the last several centuries, But if we've left some of the excess baggage and comforting rituals behind, we still revere the music.

And I think that musical forms will have a lot to teach us about our brains. Folksinger Bill Crowfoot observes that children in many cultures, speaking many languages, still all use the musical form known as a "minor third" to harass their siblings:

Nyah-nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.

The first few notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, G-G-G-Eb, probably sound like "Thus, Fate knocks at the door" (or is it Kate?) in many cultures. The more elaborate forms of the Magnificat may not be as universal-but still, they resonate. Some tunes (which the Germans call Ohrwurm or "ear worm") seem to spread through the population like the latest respiratory infection. Why? Is there some niche in our brains, created by the language we speak, that predisposes us to certain melodies?

The robin red-breast sings in a loud clear voice in order to keep other robin red-breasts away from the bit of territory that it is on. But except for singing in the morning in the shower, I have never known a human being to utter sounds for this purpose.
the mathematician JACOB BRONOWSKI (1908-1974)

Music is nothing but unconscious arithmetic .... Music is pleasure the human soul experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.
the mathematician G. W. LEIBNITZ (1646-1716)

Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light. 
the composer CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

MUSIC IS ONE OF OUR GREAT evolutionary puzzles. It demonstrates nicely the inadequacy of evolution by adaptation to explain some of our abilities. The anthropologists periodically suggest that musical abilities were evolved because of their usefulness, that they are an adaptation to social life, with music "soothing the savage breast," or some such explanation.

I'd concede some effect, especially since the chimpanzee "rain dance" has been shown to play a role in dominance display (though that typically leads to sexual selection, not. natural selection) but I cannot imagine how four-part harmony evolved, nor the abilities to weave the elaborate counter-melodies of Bach that seem to echo in my head. Maybe my imagination is simply inadequate to the task, but I'll bet that music is going to turn out to be a secondary use of some neural structure selected for its usefulness in some serial-timing task like language or throwing-and used in the off-hours for music.

If we come to understand why Bach's brain still speaks so compellingly to our brains today, we will have bridged the gap between primary evolutionary adaptations and the magnificent secondary uses that can be made of the same brain machinery. Music is an emergent property, unless someone can figure out how a lilting aria and a choral fugue and an arpeggio were shaped up by survival-sensitive adaptations. The program notes (attributed to "Senza Sordino" -a pseudonym which turns out to be an Italian musical phrase that translates to "without muting; with the loud pedal"!) for tonight's performance of the Mass in F and the Magnificat demonstrate some of the musical features that tickle our brains:
. . the final "kyrie eleison" is composed as a counterfugue- that is, each thematic entry is answered by its inversion. In the further course of the movement, Bach makes use of the contrapuntal techniques of stretto, parallel voice-leading, and mirror inversions of themes. 

As the fugal chorus builds to a climax, each voice enters one note higher than its predecessor; and the repetition of this device gives the impression of an endless succession of voices .... 

The phrase mente cordis sui calls forth an astounding harmonic progression, suggesting, in the course of some nine measures, D-major, F -sharp-minor, F -sharp-major, B-minor, D-minor, and, finally, D-major, the first trumpet bringing everyone back to the home key with a descending scale passage and trill that haunts the dreams of every trumpeter. 

Though musical tastes vary with the culture in which one is raised (and I am sure that some enterprising student will eventually do a Ph.D. dissertation on how a culture's musical structure is related to its language's grammatical structure), it seems likely that there will be a "deep structure" of music with a biological basis in the brain, just as a brain basis has been inferred for the deep grammar of languages. What is it about our brains that so disposes them to the minor third and to complex musical patterns, despite the lack of evolutionary adaptations for such musical patterns?

Though this question is seldom asked, I am sure that the standard answer would be the tie with language: Both music and language are sequences of sounds where recognizing patterns is all-important. Chords are simultaneous notes just as phonemes are; tunes are chains of chords just as words and sentences are chains of phonemes. And so natural selection for language abilities would, pari passu , gain us musical abilities as a secondary use of the same neural machinery. Maybe so. But the notion of stochastic sequencing on many parallel tracks as the key element of "get set" in ballistic movements suggests that both language and music are potentially secondary uses of the neural machinery for ballistic skills, that music might have more to do with modern-day baseball than modern-day prose.

The program notes end with:

Gloria Patri, gloria Filio, gloria et Spiritui sancto! Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper in saecula. Amen. ("Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.")

The Latin translator adds to Mary's "hymn" the traditional invocation of the Trinity. (It does not occur in St. Luke.) Bach cannot resist the musical symbolism of triplets in the three invocations, to represent the tripartite nature of the Trinity, and a return of the opening music at the end, taking his cue from, "As it was in the beginning ... " But the musical return serves aesthetics as well as theology, making a perfectly satisfying close to one of the most perfect and satisfying works of the choral literature. 

There are many aspects of human brains that would vie for a trilogy if anyone tried to pick the three focal aspects of our humanity. Surely if one's criteria were traits whose improvements would help us survive the next century, the mental attitudes controlling cooperation, conflict resolution, and family size (all likely to be strongly shared with our primate cousins) would surely rank high.

But if one focuses on the primary traits via which we differ from the apes in an order-of-magnitude way, you can wind up with a curious trio: language, scenario-spinning consciousness, and music-three aspects of sequential patterns in our brains. Their beginnings are still dimly seen, but in their elaboration may lie the higher humanity.”

The Cerebral Symphony: Seashore Reflections on the Structure of Consciousness, William Calvin, A Bantam Book, 1990

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Introduction to Complexity

This is a re-offering of our popular "Introduction to Complexity" course, with some new material, homework, and exams.

In this course you'll learn about the tools used by scientists to understand complex systems. The topics you'll learn about include dynamics, chaos, fractals, information theory, self-organization, agent-based modeling, and networks. You’ll also get a sense of how these topics fit together to help explain how complexity arises and evolves in nature, society, and technology. There are no prerequisites. You don't need a science or math background to take this introductory course; it simply requires an interest in the field and the willingness to participate in a hands-on approach to the subject.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world

Bernie Krause has been recording wild soundscapes -- the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae -- for 45 years. In that time, he has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe. A surprising look at what we can learn through nature's symphonies, from the grunting of a sea anemone to the sad calls of a beaver in mourning.
Bernie Krause's legendary soundscapes uncover nature’s rich sonic tapestry -- along with some unexpected results. 
This has something to do with complexity but I'm not sure what. Each of the environments he records are complex systems (I think). And, the sound of the system must relfect the complexity. But ...

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Poet's View of Complexity

A poet's view of complexity:
"Nature gives us shapeless shapes
Clouds and waves and flame
But human expectation
Is that love remains the same
And when it doesn't
We point our fingers
And blame blame blame"
Paul Simon, You're the One

And it's not just love where we look for blame. Almost all human systems are complex systems, and looking for a cause in them is fruitless.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Change, Entropy and Complexity

A video clip from Al Gore's speech on his book The Future. He talks about change, entropy and complexity. While I applaud his courage of introducing the concept of complexity in the public speech to a general audience and I love his metaphors, he doesn't quite get right. But it's a great attempt.

The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change

Former Vice President Al Gore is currently the Chairman of the Climate Reality Project, co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management and a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1985 and the U.S. Senate from 1985 to 1990. Mr. Gore is the author of several books, including Earth in the Balance and An Inconvenient Truth. He was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. For more information, visit From the 6th annual Savannah Book Festival in Savannah, Georgia, former vice president Al Gore discusses his book The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Click here to view video.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

America's Gilded Capital

Mark Leibovich covers Washington, D.C., as chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. In his new book, This Town, he writes about the city’s bipartisan lust for power, cash and notoriety. It’s the story of how Washington became an occupied city; its hold on reality distorted by greed and ambition. Leibovich pulls no punches, names names, and reveals the movers, the shakers and the lucrative deals they make — all in the name of crony capitalism.

Big Debt on Campus

This really upsets me. From Mother Jones, September 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

To Think

“Thinking done for totally personal reasons-even when it concerns other people-usually has secure roots in our own intentions, values, considerations, and desires. We usually know where we are coming from and where we want to get to, and our thoughts can range without the inhibition of other people's possible reaction. The business of the brain is the construction of realities-the actual present reality of the world in which we live and the alternative realities of possible (and impossible) worlds that exist, at the moment, only in our own mind." Frank Smith, To Think

Read my book summary at:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Useless Innovation

I'm getting irritated by useless innovation. I see it everywhere. My attempt to define it is innovation that adds function or changes form without an increase in utility in order to increase price or comparative differentiation. Seen any of that?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two American Families: Complexity At Work?

It’s a central premise of the American dream: If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll be able to make a living and build a better life for your children. But what if working hard isn’t enough to ensure success — or even the basic necessities of daily life?

FRONTLINE’s Two American Families follows two ordinary families who have spent the past 20 years in an extraordinary battle to keep from sliding into poverty.

The film, a collaboration with veteran PBS journalist Bill Moyers, who has followed the Stanleys and the Neumanns over the years, raises unsettling questions about the changing nature of the American economy and the fate of a declining middle class.

“He will not be able to see the retirement, you know, that he probably would hope for when he was working at A.O. Smith,” say Keith Stanley, the son of Claude Stanley who was laid off from a steady, good paying job in the early ’90s. “That’s just not a reality. My heart goes out to that generation that was promised something from America, by America, that they would have a better life and that’s not the case anymore.”

Here's my comments on the structural change and the implications if the system that changed is a complex system in a critical state. Click to listen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The State of America's Middle Class

The following was taken from "The State of America's Middle Class in Eight Charts" by Jason Breslow and Evan Wexler, Frontline, PBS. Click here for charts and article.

Wages are down

Middle class incomes have shrunk 8.5 percent since 2000, after enjoying mostly steady growth during the previous decade. In 2011, the average income for the middle 60 percent of households stood at $53,042, down from $58,009 at the start of the millennium.

Less income for the middle class

Partly as a result of lower pay, the middle class’s share of the nation’s total income has been falling. In 1980, the middle 60 percent of households accounted for 51.7 of the country’s income. By 2011, they were less than half. Meanwhile, the top fifth of households saw their slice of the national income grow 16 percent, to 51.1 percent from 44.1 percent.

Union positions are shrinking

One factor behind the decline in income has been a drop-off in the number of workers earning union salaries. In 2012, the median salary for a unionized worker stood at roughly $49,000. The median pay for their non-union counterparts was just shy of $39,000. Since 1983, however, the share of the population belonging to a labor union has gone from one-in-five workers to just over one-in-ten.

More workers stuck in part-time jobs

A second factor weighing down pay is the rise in the number of Americans stuck in part-time jobs. In 2012, more than 2.5 million Americans worked part-time jobs because they could not find a full-time position, the most since 1993.

Fewer jobs from U.S.-based multinationals

Part of the challenge for job seekers is that U.S. multinational corporations having been hiring less at home. These large, brand-name firms employ roughly a fifth of American workers, but from 1999 to 2008 they shed 2.1 million jobs in the U.S. while adding more than 2.2 million positions abroad.

Rising debt

Predictably, the economic pressures facing the middle class have left families deeper in debt. . In 1992, the median level of debt for the middle third of families stood at $32,200. By 2010, that figure had swelled to $84,000, an increase of 161 percent.

Families are saving less

The rise in debt has meant fewer families have the ability to put away money for things like retirement or a child’s tuition bills. In 2001, more than two-thirds of middle class families said they were able to save money in the preceding year. By 2010, that figure was below 55 percent.

Net worth has plunged

The impact on family net worth — the amount by which assets exceed liabilities — has been painful. In 2007, median net worth peaked at $120, 600. Then came the financial crisis, which pushed millions of Americans into joblessness and home foreclosure. By 2010, net worth had plummeted 36 percent, to $77,300.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Snowden, Polls and Critical Thinking

As you know from things I wrote before, I’m becoming increasing wary of public opinion polls and the people who write about them. Mark Mellman’s blog post, “Have We Been Snowdened?” raised my curiosity on the subject. Below is a summary of the data he writes about in his column. And, as a full disclosure comment, I’m aware, and you should be also, by summarizing the data as I did I’m altering exactly what each survey reported.

The person who leaked information about this secret program did a good thing in informing the American public or a bad thing
ABC/Washington Post
The NSA surveillance program was classified as secret, and was made public by a former government contractor named Edward Snowden
Snowden leaked information to the press about NSA’s monitoring of phone and Internet usage
Releasing the top secret information about government surveillance programs was the right thing or wrong thing to do

First, I couldn’t verify all of the data he reported, specifically the YouGov poll. And, when I went to look for this poll’s data (because Mellman changed the format of how he chose to report the results) I found even more polls on the subject. In browsing some of the poll data, I found that it makes a big difference whether you ask a question about Snowden, his actions, or what NSA is doing. I also have no guarantee that the sampling is valid in any of the polls, or whether the statistics employed is valid because of complex system effects. Moreover, the results depend upon when the poll was taken.

I’m not so interested in the results of these polls that I’ll invest the research and critical thinking time to find out what the public may think about this issue. However, look at the word usage in the polls – “leaked” and “secret” in the Time poll; “surveillance”, “NSA” and “government contractor” in the ABC poll; “leaked”, “press”, and “NSA” in the Reuters poll, the only one to mention “Phone” and “Internet”; “top secret”, “government” and ”surveillance” in the YouGov poll. These are all words likely to shift a person’s response to the statement.

My sole reason for writing this is just to alert you to critically examine any polling important to you. There are many ways to alter the response, or to “skin a cat” as the old saying goes[1].

[1] “Mark Twain used your version in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in 1889: “she was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat”, that is, more than one way to get what she wanted.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Critical Thinking In Justice

According to Wikipedia, "Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality."

Isn't it curious that Lady Justice was always a woman, and that the first woman justice of the US Supreme Court was Sandra Day O'Connor in  1981?

I view this description of Lady Justice as a representation of critical thinking.

But, if I look at the recent rulings of the US Supreme Court, I do not see evidence of critical thinking. I see two voting blocks with one judge moving between the two blocks. Is this really justice?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Critical Thinking

Last year at the beginning of the election season, one of the State’s political parties launched a platform with a plank in it that opposed the teaching of critical thinking skills in public education.  After a large public outcry, this platform was edited to remove the offending thought. This issue came up in one of the planning meetings of the Central Texas Chapter of the World Future Society and the group present resolved to make critical thinking part of our program of activities. This is in line with our longstanding vision, “Raising awareness of the future and its impact on Central Texas”. Awareness is the first step of critical thinking, followed by, among other things, discernment. The group present in the planning meeting thought that critical thinking was an essential part of future’s studies, both normative and projective.

Intuitively it appears that we are in an era when critical thinking is necessary, not just for success, but survival. There are many trends, global and local, temporal and eternal, that affect us, some that we can change and some that we must just prepare for. Our future is one of very large, complex systems, which at this point we neither understand nor control. Some of these systems are intrinsically uncontrollable. And, we are entering the world of big data driven by our technological capability to accomplish, and spurred by the profit motive.   Moreover, as copious amounts of money are available, “opinions” based on data can be bought. We are already swimming in a vast sea of data and opinions.

Given the vast amount of data, I am reminded of a statement sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Well, maybe not intentional lies, but biases based upon values, not open minded logic. We will need a lot of critical thinking to, as Omar Khayyam phrased it, “The two and seventy jarring sects confute.”

But what is critical thinking? How is it used in real life? Is it a skill? Can it be taught? Is it something that should be a guiding principle of this organization? What is our role in fostering critical thinking?

A panel has been gathered to discuss critical thinking on June 18, 2013 at the monthly meeting of the CenTexWFS beginning at 6pm at Marie Callender’s 9503 Research Blvd #400  Austin, TX 78759
(512) 349-7151. It will be moderated by Paul Schumann and is composed of:

  • ·         Phyliss Blees: educator, peace through commerce, conscious capitalism, creativity, lawyer
  • ·         Carol Flake Chapman: journalist, editor, author, founding editor of Vanity Fair Magazine
  • ·         Joyce Goia: futurist, trend analyst, editor of Herman Trend Alerts
  • ·         Terrill Fisher: improv artist, comedian, training consultant
  • ·         Jon Lebkowsky: programming, social media, editor of Extreme Democracy
  • ·         Diane Miller: civic collaboration, project planning, dialog and deliberation

If you wish to attend, please visit the group’s web site for more information. There is an attendance fee of $25 that includes dinner that is payable at the event.

Paul Schumann is a futurist and innovation consultant who is currently researching complexity science and its use in future’s studies. He is the author of four books – Innovate!, An Innovant’s Journey, Leadership in the Interactive Age and Superconductivity – and numerous articles, the latest of which is “1, 2, A Few and Many”. Follow his blog, Insights and Foresight, for more information.

Philomena Blees, J.D. is President of Peace Through Commerce, Inc. (“PTC”) and a Trustee of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.  She was founding Vice President, General Counsel, Treasurer and "Chief Problem Solver" of PTC and Conscious Capitalism’s parent corporation, Freedom Lights Our Word (FLOW), Inc.

Ms. Blees co-founded a school for gifted children in Austin, Texas, as well as two educational nonprofit organizations. She served in the office of General Counsel at the Texas State Treasury.  Prior to this, Ms. Blees was an active securities trader, and a partner in private practice in Honolulu, Hawaii concentrating in tax, real property, and business law.

Ms. Blees is active in the American Creativity Association (“ACA”) and co-founded ACA-Austin Global.

Ms. Blees received her law degree at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and was 1st in her class. She is a member of the State Bar Associations of Texas and Hawaii, and is licensed to practice before the U.S. Tax Court, Federal District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Ms. Blees loves running, hiking, dancing, music, movement, creativity, and reading and is active with her two beloved children and new daughter-in law.

Author of The Herman Trend Alert for the last seven years, Joyce Gioia [joy-yah] has been a professional futurist for decades. In fact, she joined the World Future Society back in the late 60s, when she graduated from college and is now a member of the national Board of Trustees. Once she became a consultant, she discovered that helping clients know what was coming could be her competitive advantage. Joyce is the author of five business books (three bestsellers) on the future of the workforce and workplace. A frequent speaker at association and corporate meetings, she informs and entertains her audiences with a combination of wit and wisdom. Besides holding three masters degrees, she is a Certified Management Consultant and Certified Speaking Professional. Joyce was recently honored by USA TODAY as their FIRST ROAD WARRIOR OF THE YEAR. She says that not only did critical thinking help her to win this award, she also uses it every day to make informed decisions for herself and others.

Jon Lebkowsky is an author, activist, sometimes journalist, and blogger who writes about the future of the Internet, digital culture, media, and society. He’s been actively associated with various forward-looking projects and organizations, including FringeWare (CEO), Whole Earth, WorldChanging, Viridian Design Movement, Mondo 2000, bOING bOING, Factsheet Five, the WELL, the Austin Chronicle, EFF-Austin (President), Society of Participatory Medicine (cofounder and former board member), Extreme Democracy (co-editor), Wireless Future (project manager), Digital Convergence Initiative (former board member), Plutopia Productions (cofounder), Polycot Consulting (cofounder and CEO), Social Web Strategies (cofounder), Project VRM, and Reality Augmented Blog. He’s currently a web strategist and developer via Polycot Associates. There’s more info at Wikipedia

Diane Miller specializes in the design, facilitation and implementation of community engagement projects that help diverse groups of people work together to find common ground for action. For the last ten years, she has worked with Central Texas governments, businesses and community groups to address complex civic challenges. Before launching her firm, Civic Collaboration, in 2011, she was assistant director for a regional planning non-profit where she designed and executed numerous collaborative, multi-stakeholder initiatives on complicated and often divisive issues. She has designed and led community forums on an array of topics, from gentrification and regional planning, to education and health care.

Before working in community engagement, Diane worked in the field of organizational development, designing workshops and trainings focused on leadership, teamwork, and change management. She has a B.A. in liberal arts and has studied extensively in the areas of group dynamics, organizational and human development, and civic participatory processes. Diane currently serves on the board of The National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation. She has completed certification programs in public engagement from both the International Association for Public Participation and Fielding University.