Major New Fernando Flores Work Product

Fernando Flores has just delivered a major report to the nation of Chile on the subjects of innovation and preparing for the future. In English, SURFING TOWARDS THE FUTURE: CHILE ON THE 2025 HORIZON, explores “strategic orientations for innovation” for the nation over the coming decades. The document, and the work of preparing it, comes from the Chilean National Council on Innovation for Competitiveness, under Flores’ leadership.

In a blog posting reprinted in The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal, Irving Wladawsky-Berger praised the report for its creation of a new historical background for understanding and interacting with innovation. You can read his comment by clicking this title: Wall Street Journal_Innovation as a Journey Into the Future

For those with serious interest in how innovation occurs, this report is a treasure. It examines the phenomena of innovation, the background in which innovation occurs, the current historical state of the world in which innovation arrives, and proposes directions for investigation and action for Chile that can readily be seen as relevant and deeply related to the challenges faced by communities of all sizes and types around the world.  Further, the report re-frames, in important new ways, the questions of leadership and design for anyone who takes responsibility for guiding their community or enterprise into the future that is before us.

A full copy of the English translation of the report can be downloaded here.

I recommend it.

Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet

I am about to put more emphasis on the blog. I have changed some of what I am doing, and will say more about that in a few days.
Meanwhile, this story is about many things. Most of us have not been following what has been happening with what is called “3d printing.” This story shows something very heartening about the human dimensions of technology.

Read and watch (and comment if you like).

Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer

By Rose Eveleth | August 9, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT

Emma Lavelle was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), a genetic condition that causes joints and muscles to be stiff and nearly useless. At birth, Emma could move nothing but her thumb. After years of training and practice, she could move around without a walker, but her arms still hung by her sides, too stiff and weak for her to use.

“She would get really frustrated when she couldn’t play with things like blocks,” Megan Lavelle, Emma’s mother, says in the press release. When Megan saw a presentation of the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) being used by another patient with AMC, she immediately approached the doctor and asked if it could be used on Emma.

But the device wasn’t made for someone so small. The presentation showed an eight year old using WREX. The doctors had worked to make the device smaller, and got it working on six year olds who were in wheel chairs. But Emma could walk, and was only two.

Still, they tried, and when they brought Emma into the workshop and put her in a an experimental WREX, they saw an immediate improvement. Emma began playing, eating on her own for the first time, and throwing her arms up in the air.

Here’s a video, made by Stratasys, the company that prints the WREX device, of Emma using her exoskeleton:

Here’s another video of an older patient using it, made by Jaeco Orthopedic, the people who invented WREX:

The WREX exoskeleton isn’t new itself. Metal versions have been around for adults for a long time. But those are too heavy for most kids, especially those with difficulty lifting their arms. What makes this plastic version of WREX useful for kids is that it’s light, made from the same plastic that LEGO bricks are made from, and it’s easy to produce a custom model. SImply design, and print. And replacement parts are no problem, so as the child grows, new pieces can be printed to fit their bodies.

Via: PC World

Image:� Stratasys

via Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet.

via Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet.

End the University as We Know It – NYTimes.com

Hello there.
I’ve been busy with many things for the past year, but am committed to start posting some comments again. I’ll begin scattergun fashion, without a lot of focus, but this article that Michele Gazolo passed to me is too good not to pass on, so I’ll start here.

Other things to catch up on quickly will be a short review of what I have been doing, a note about the next Fernando Flores WEST (Working Effectively in Small Teams) Course, starting February (see www. pluralisticnetworks.com), and the next posting, news from a friend who has worked some miracles close to me over the years and who is taking a new and I guess important tack on Parkinson’s Disease.

Looking forward to be back in touch with many of you shortly.

Best,
Chauncey

End the University as We Know It – NYTimes.com.

Fernando Flores new offerings

Many of my readers know that I worked with Fernando Flores for over 20 years in a variety of companies and roles. I am his student, admiring colleague, and friend.

Now that he has completed his term in the Chilean Senate, Fernando has begun to roll out new educational offerings. He has started to deliver the new program he has been thinking about for some time now, with a center of operations in the US. His central premise (my summary) is that there is nowhere available today an educational program that addresses the challenges of the most serious problems facing us in the world today — working across enormous cultural and geographical distances, and building programs (and people) with the kind of  ‘staying power’ to keep thinking about and developing approaches to problems that will not be swayed or stopped because some groups have found compelling sound-bytes and mastered techniques of speaking ‘loudly’ in whatever media.

To address this need, he has built a short workshop that introduces the program, a four-month long course about working effectively in small groups, and is at this moment piloting the second of what he expects could eventually be a set of four or five courses.

I am currently participating in the first of the four month long courses. I’m convinced that his diagnosis about the dimensions of education and preparation for working in the 21st Century that he is thinking are on the mark. And, I have been very impressed by the accelerated learning that takes place in the environment that Fernando and his colleagues have designed. The combination of a rich philosophical context, guided play and discussion, and the use of a virtual reality environment for interaction gives a place for learning that is both full of challenges and at the same time allows students to take risks and develop new practices fast without risking their identities in their normal workspace. Most participants report important results developed very quickly.

If you have followed Fernando’s ideas and writings over the years at all, and found or suspected that important benefits were possible there, I strongly recommend that you contact Gloria Flores at <gfloresletelier@gmail.com> and discuss with her how to participate in the emerging new work.

The following are introductory comments from Pluralistic Networks’ introduction to their offerings. Pluralistic Networks’ website can be found at http://www.pluralisticnetworks.com. The name comes from the observation that important work all over the world must come from teams of people assembled from deeply varied communities, backgrounds, and training, and those people must learn how to come together and work effectively with each other very quickly. There is no way for us to all ‘grow up in the same village together’ in order to learn to work effectively together.

Our Introductory Session is currently called Building and Thriving in Pluralistic Networks — A New Approach for Learning Critical 21st Century Skills.  It will take place in SF on Feb. 23rd – 25th.

This session is an intensive three day conference led by Dr. Fernando Flores.  During the three days, participants will experience a new way of learning that combines Virtual Reality Games, Guided Reflection and Discussion, and grounded theoretical work to constitute a Virtual Reality Learning Laboratory that enable our students to rapidly develop new skills and sensibilities that are critical for our world today.  During the three days, participants explore:

-the skills and sensibilities we must cultivate to build stronger relationships and act effectively with others in a global, complex and constantly changing world.
-the use use new networked technologies as learning environments for developing new skills and sensibilities.
-their own abilities to work effectively with others, including the behaviors that may get in the way. Throughout the course, participants engage in hands-on group exercises using a virtual reality game environment, and emerge not only with a new awareness of themselves and the skills they need to cultivate, but also with a sense of ambition as they begin to articulate a personal roadmap for learning to navigate in the world of pluralistic networks.

The WEST program (Working Effectively in Small Teams) is our Four Month Learning Laboratory focused on working in teams.  This program is not what you might expect from a “team building” type of course; but rather, our focus is on developing an awareness of how we invent our identity with others, and on learning new skills and sensibilities that enable us to not only coordinate more effectively with other people, but also to build trusting relationships and to be more sensitive to each others’ moods and emotions.  Our students work as teams, and in the process of engaging with each other, they discover what works and what does not work in the way they build their relationship with their team mates (and in real life) for the sake of completing their missions.  The program includes exercises that allow our students to begin to develop the ability to observe themselves in action, not get triggered by negative emotional reactions, and begin the process of cultivating emotional fortitude — the ability to cope with adversity, change and uncertainty as a routine part of life.

When he finished his term as a Senator, the Chilean Government asked Fernando to do several interesting things that I am sure he will share with students and in his blogging when the time is right.

Russell Bishop: Are You Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

A call to action that I recommend we heed (link is below):

Clearly, anger abounds across the nation over what has become of our political process, not to mention the ethics and integrity of how we conduct business. … While anger seethes across widely different groups, it would seem that most people spend more time pointing fingers and placing blame than they do figuring out what they can actually do about the situation.

Sure, voting someone out of office may seem like active engagement, and if thats where your passion lies, go for it. … Is changing who holds political power and hoping they do something better really an effective workaround? Is changing political office holders just another form of rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks? Could relying on someone else to do something just be another form of personal abdication?

[I have been blogging about this for some time now:] it’s time to stop complaining and criticizing everyone else, and get off your “buts” (but I can’t, but they won’t let me, but someone else is in charge) and start doing something right where you are, right now. You all know that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. This and many other bits of wisdom have become modern day clichés; however it could be that these clichés are really just common sense not so commonly applied.

For those on one side of the political spectrum, Barack Obama promised hope and the prospect of meaningful change. Whether you agreed with the promise or not, it’s pretty easy to see the dysfunctional fighting we call a political process. Many people have dropped the ball, hoping that real change would take place through the ballot box. Rather than taking the message of personal response-ability and becoming personally engaged in the change, many of us have relied on hoping someone in Washington would do it for us.

Now is the time for each of us to become more personally engaged and to do what we can to make a difference. You may not have the power or ability to change the whole system; however, you can contribute to making a difference, even if that difference appears to be small and only in your own backyard.

Russell Bishop: Are You Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?.

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.

Truth 2.0

OK, I’m going to put my foot in it now.

Ariana’s “solution” of a fact-checking “tool” is wrong, I am sure, because the issue about the distinction between assessments and assertions, and tools will not do an adequate job of dealing with what AH points to here.

But that is an aside. What she does that I like a lot is to put her finger on, and provide a beautiful current example of, the way in which we moderns have come to a pathetic interpretation of language. With this way of being we are murdering our capacity to come together and work on things that matter to us .

Arianna Huffington: PolitiFact Embraces Equivocation, the Truth Gets Squeezed.

via Truth 2.0.

Obama’s iPad attack – How the World Works – Salon.com

At the end of this short piece, Andrew Leonard takes on the the difficulties of distinguishing among technology and the roles that it plays in education and the construction of life. Our modern technologies embody the capacity to couple fantastically well with our nervous systems, but are indifferent to the ethical and substantial concerns in which we employ them. Leonard both gores and praises the President, to good effect in both cases. Leonard’s conclusion:

There is a difference between getting an education and watching the latest viral YouTube clip on your iPad, between establishing a college for the education of freed slaves and rallying 10,000 fans to a Facebook page. And there’s no contradiction between employing any technological means necessary to organize a successful presidential campaign and recognizing that there may be aspects of that technology worth criticizing. To any readers of this post who might be consuming it via iPad, I invite you to push that contradiction to the limit: Watch, and learn: <video of the president follows in the linked article>

Obama’s self-hating iPad attack – How the World Works – Salon.com.

The disappearance of Flight 188. – By William Saletan – Slate Magazine

The pilots “forgot” that they were flying the airplane!

I saw that this had happened a short while ago. William Saletan has asked good questions about what happened here.

This inevitability was anticipated by an early joke of the computer era, about the world’s first fully automated flight, in which a the computer-generated recording announced, more or less, “Welcome to the world’s first computer-managed flight. You will enjoy a new world of comfort, conveniences, speed and safety on this flight. … Sit back and relax. Nothing can go wrong…can go wrong…can go wrong.”

The joke got the danger wrong. The problem is not malfunctioning computers. Nor is the problem malfunctioning people. People “malfunction” as an essential feature of our existential design, and our machines malfunction because we, imperfect and blind to our functioning, are their designers. On the other hand, our “malfunctioning” is the ground in which our freedoms are born, including what we call free will. Without malfunctioning, we have no invention, no new possibilities.

The danger is that the kind of beings we are is being redesigned by the tools and the world we have invented, and we are not observing what is happening.

This is an example of why I spoke so strongly against the metaphoric background that Jill Bolte Taylor spoke from in her poetic and inspiring TED Talk. When we are in the business of inventing what it is to be human and human futures, we should take care about what we are inventing.

Following the line of another joke, we should be careful that we do not end up where we are headed.

Tell me what you think.

Best,

Chauncey

Darwin on Poetry and Music

From my friend Margaret McIntyre comes this cautionary song:

Letter by Charles Darwin, late in his life, to a friend:

“Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure…But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry;…My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts…and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

Charles Darwin: His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter & in a Selected Series of his Published Letters, Edited by Francis Darwin. London: William Clowes and Sons, Ltd.1892, p. 51.

An Invitation from Fernando Flores

My friend Fernando Flores (see here, here, and here, and, for readers of Spanish or those who know how to get a web page translated, see here) briefed me last week about his new venture. I asked him to send me something in writing about what he is doing, and I reprint below substantially all of what he sent me. I recommend you read his invitation and consider it carefully.

Dear Chauncey:

As we discussed, I am in the process of starting a new enterprise that takes the work that we have done together in the past to the “next frontier” if you will, by putting it in the center of what people need to cope and thrive in the reality of our world today.

Continue reading

I Suggest: Read Glenn Greenwald’s Blog

Today I added a link in this blog to Glenn Greenwald’s blog. Over the past months I have been deeply impressed with what he pays attention to, and with the quality of his comments on the situation in the US and the world. Last week I followed carefully his direct criticism of the recent duplicity of the newly appointed Attorney General of the United States, and decided to cite his blog in mine. Today Greenwald has done a scathing characterization of the state of the media in the country, and I want to call attention to it.

This is not a political blog. I am committed not to speak casually about things to which many people that I appreciate and respect are paying serious attention, and I am also committed not to “vote” or pass around opinions in this blog. On the other hand, I consider the construction of the public agenda (which is what I understand politics to be really about) fundamental to the question of “Social, Commercial, and Technological Invention” that is, after all, what I said was the focus of this blog.

Here is how Glenn Greenwald begins his posting on the media today:

The U.S. establishment media in a nutshell

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

“Yoo and torture” – 102

“Mukasey and 9/11” — 73

“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16

“Obama and bowling” — 1,043

“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

“Obama and patriotism” – 1,607

“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

Ouch.

In a book review (also in today’s Salon) entitled Can Stephen Colbert save America? Louis Bayard quotes Stephen Colbert from his White House Correspondents roast, on the subject of how the media works at the White House:

“Here’s how it works,” Colbert explained. “The president makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home … Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction!”

I pray for the continued health of Mark Twain’s spirit. The rest of the book review is worth reading as well.

To see Greenwald’s whole posting, click on the title “The US Establishment….” To see the book review, click on the title “Can Stephen Colbert ….”

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

I offer homage to Waylon Jennings, for his song which echoes in my head as I think about what I want to say here, to Joe Alberti, the acting and drama coach whose comment I have been interacting with, and which inspired this posting, to Fernando Flores, teacher and mentor, and to Greg and Margaret and Shirah, faithful partners for reflection.

This posting has a moral: Be bloody careful about the language in which you make important interpretations, or your language will “invent you” as something you may not be happy with. Winston Churchill, in a speech in the House of Commons on October 28, 1944, said, “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” (http://drmardy.com tells us that Churchill made the speech during the rebuilding of the House of Commons, after it sustained heavy bombing damage during the Battle of Britain.)

  • Paraphrasing his words and idea, we say,

    We shape our language (our interpretations of the world, and the moods and distinctions in which we listen and speak), and afterwards our language shapes us.

    Continue reading

  • Wise Organizations? Continued …

    With the permission of the publishers of the book, Idea Group, Inc., I’m sharing this chapter in a series of postings, to see what kind of conversation it generates. Idea Group’s copyright prohibits copying the text in any written or electronic form. Please help me protect this copyright by referring people to the blog, but don’t copy the text that is here.

    Preparing the Way for Wisdom in Organizations – Part 2a

    This is the second in a set of six essays inviting reflection about the construction of the conditions and situations in which wisdom can be cultivated and exercised in organizational settings.
    Language-Action and the Constitution of Organizations

    For the vast majority of the moments of our lives (including much of our sleep, in dreams remembered and not), we are doing things in language, and language is doing things to us. The opportunity of this topic is that “language-action” offers a radically improved path to observing what we are doing as we are speaking (and listening). When we speak we create new interpretations, moods, possibilities, and futures in the bodies and minds of those with whom we are speaking (and for ourselves). Therefore, one of the distinctions that will be essential for us is language-action: observing language as communicative acts.

    The English philosopher John L. Austin (1911-1960) was the first to carefully distinguish a class of verbs that he called performatives – verbs that, rather than describing actions, perform actions. (John L. Austin, (1975). How to Do Things With Words, Second Edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 148.)

    When someone says ‘I promise to …,’ he is performing the action of promising, not reporting that he will, did, or might promise. It turns out that all human languages contain performatives. For the purpose of designing work in organizations, I distinguish six classes of performatives:

    * declarations
    * offers
    * requests
    * promises
    * assessments
    * assertions

    The most important, and most interesting thing about these verbs is that, when we look carefully, we can see that it is with these acts that we human beings invent our futures. Very often we don’t actually use the words; people make promises all the time without saying “I promise,” and make requests even more often without saying “I request” (for example, “The soup needs salt” and “Don’t you think that it is cold in here?”)

    How do these language-actions show up as we are inventing our futures?
    Continue reading