Something not to miss if/when you are near NYC

Edward Tufte is an extraordinary and very rare observer of our world.

I have learned a great deal from him, and recommend that if you are able to visit any of the following, or attend any of his lectures, GO.

The Work of Edward Tufte and Graphics Press.

Charlie Rose – A conversation with author Joshua Cooper Ramo

I have the highest regard for Joshua Cooper Ramo’s book The Age of the Unthinkable, which Bob Franza introduced to me. For various reasons, I just reviewed the book, and come away from it even more impressed than I was a year ago. Searching for more about what the man is doing now, I came across this conversation that he had with Charlie Rose early last year.

Late, but better late than never.

Watch it, and tell me what you think. Read the book.

Charlie Rose – A conversation with author Joshua Cooper Ramo.

Reading

I highly recommend Joshua Cooper Ramo’s The Age of the Unthinkable.

“Little in the current discussion of our shared problems suggests the radical rethinking our world requires. There is now hope and even the first hints of substantial changes in policy, but the basic architecture of ideas and theories necessary to back up such difficult work remains profoundly underdeveloped. No debate about terrorism, global warming, destructive weapons, economic chaos, or other threats can make sense without a grand strategy, though this is the thing most obviously missing today. Instead, the most likely course for our future is the most dangerous: minor adjustments to current policies, incremental changes to institutions that are already collapsing, and an inevitable and frustrating expansion of failure. And this will happen fast. Among the things our leaders seem to be missing is a comprehension of the staggering speed at which these change epidemics occur; one bank fails, then fifty; one country develops an atom bomb, a dozen try to follow; one computer or one child comes down with a virus, and the speed of its spread is incomprehensible. … This book is the story of a new way of thinking. It is one that takes complexity and unpredictability as its first consideration and produces, as a result, a different and useful way of seeing our world. It explains why unthinkable disasters are blossoming all around us and — as important — what we can do about them.” (Page 10)

The author is a journalist and strategist. Read it and tell me what you think. I am now beginning to read it again with colleagues as an exercise in thinking.

“…humanity’s immune response to resist and heal political disease, economic infection, and ecological corruption …”

Paul Hawken first came to my attention with the publication of The Ecology of Commerce in 1993. In the book, he said (my interpretations) that in The Silent Spring, Rachel Carson was right, but that the situation was worse than she had said. We did not just face imminent danger, but rather the endocrine systems of our planet’s living organisms had already been compromised by the way we were engaging in commerce and industry on the planet. Secondly, he said, we could give up the idea that the situation could be remedied by governments, agreements among governments, or regulation. There was, he said, only one force on the planet up to the challenge we faced: we had to transform the way that we understood and did commerce and business.

In his new book, Blessed Unrest, working from the same concerns, he reflects on something that “is going on in the background.” From the perspective of more than a decade of talking to people around the world about what is going on in the world of the environment, he discovered that there is a huge social movement underway that does not fit anyone’s picture of a movement. He calls it a vast network of organizations that are operating ‘without a white male vertebrate running the show,’ and addressing the questions of human rights, social justice, and environmental restoration in what he understands now as a unified phenomenon.

I recommend the book. In this video, you can hear him talking about the book for a little over 5 minutes. In this video, you can watch his presentation of the book at Google’s offices, and a wonderful conversation after the presentation with Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Brilliant (about an hour long).

I think Paul’s work is important for understanding many things about our modern world, possibilities for transforming cultures, designing businesses, and building new ethical enterprises. I am convinced that he is distinguishing something “new” in a very solid way. As Michael Salveson said to me when I told him about the book, “But of course, de Tocqueville told us that when he wrote Democracy in America: every major change in this country begins in the communities. The big changes are not generated by the institutions.”

What do you think?