“Entrepreneurs Discover Futures Competency”

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Hello and welcome to another Dr. Nilda Business Foresight Show. Today I have with me Dr. Jerome Glenn. So, let me tell you a little bit about Dr. Jerome Glenn. Dr. Jerome Glenn is the CEO of The Millennium Project, a leading global participatory think tank since 1996. Which NOW has 63 Nodes around the world. He is the lead author of the “State of the Future reports” for the past 20 years, co-editor of its “Futures Research Methodology 3.0”, and designed and manages the online Global Futures Intelligence System. He invented the “Futures Wheel” and concepts such as conscious-technology, self-actualization economy, and definitions of environmental security and Collective Intelligence. The “Futures Wheel” a method for graphical visualization of direct and indirect future consequences of a particular change or development. Jerome is the author book Future Mind about “information warfare in the late 1980s.”  He sent his first email in 1973, and in the mid-1980s he was instrumental in getting x.25 packet switching in 29 developing countries for low-cost Internet access.  His Future Work/Tech 2050 Global Scenarios are currently being used in national workshops in 18 countries. He has also been instrumental in naming the first Space Shuttle, the Enterprise. Welcome Dr. Jerome. How are you?

Good. Thank you. Nice to be here.

I am so excited to have you here. So, you’ve done a lot of really amazing things and I want to start with the Millennium Project. Please tell me a little bit about what you’re working on. First what it is and then what you’re working on now.

The Millennium Project is a think-tank. It’s a little different than most think tanks in that there’s no single place of it. There’s 63 nodes around the world. These nodes are groups of individuals and institutions who identify the best minds we can get our hands on to answer questions about future possibilities. So, it’s an input/output device these nodes around the world. It’s a global participatory system essentially for humans to think together in an organized way about the future.

I have always been fascinated about think tanks. Tell me a little bit about what a think tank is and then what is a global thing tank?

The first think tank was the RAND Corporation as far as we know. You could say that there were leisurely priestly castes several thousand years ago in Egypt giving the Vizier the advice and so forth. But in the sense where we used the word think tank today, Rand was the first one. His job was to figure out how to prevent World War three. Whether it did or not I don’t know but at least the mission was accomplished. The idea was to bring the best minds they could get their hands on put them in one place and then think about horrible things and then how to prevent those horrible things. Now think tanks, there is another one in England and Paris and some other ones came after that, a distinction to be made most people don’t really have think tanks in the old sense. The old sense was to think about the future. Most think tanks like Brookings today are Policy Analysis places. What is it tax cut going to do? What is the relationships right now with Korea? They’re analyzing concurrent political stuff. Whereas original think tanks they think about the really the far-out stuff. So, they were future think tanks but now you’ve got think tanks on everything from scratching your nose to scratching your elbow. It’s become popular. You think, you read, you write, and you discuss. It’s just all this stuff to analyze stuff is what most of them are doing today.

But futures think tank is actually analyzing the future looking to the future and developing scenarios for the potential future. Would you say that this is something that’s really necessary? Think tanks are very necessary to be able to analyze that future.

Well if society slowed down to a crawl you wouldn’t need them because it wouldn’t be much change. It’s like imagine a car at nighttime if you’re driving five miles an hour and your headlights are not very strong no problem. But if you start going 60 miles an hour and your headlights are still weak you’re going to crash. So, as society changes more rapidly it’s important to look out more farther into the future to give you more time to figure out what to do so you get the best and avoid the worst.

What are some simple methods that you use to help entrepreneurs anticipate the future of their business or anticipate their future?

The first one that every futurist does and to some degree every person does to some degree but not necessary organize what we call scanning. Environmental scanning. Horizon scanning. It is like the old sailing ship many years ago that when you’re going into uncharted territory somebody had to get up on the top get up there and look around and say captain there’s a rock over there move over there. That’s the basic idea. You’re keeping track of internet changes and keywords like what’s changing? What’s staying the same? What’s changing the same way. That’s scanning. You keep track of what the key issues are coming up. But then you have to understand the concepts or the trends and one way we do that is a futures wheel. This is something you can do on your desk anybody can do this. Take a piece of paper write down whatever a trend or new event or thing like that in a piece of paper. Put a circle around it then say okay if that happens what else would happen? So, you draw little lines like spokes of a wheel. At the end of these little spokes you say well what might happen if we have artificial intelligence. We might have some job implications or whatever. So, you have all these little implications around the center. Then you take that first ring of primary consequences that most people understand and then say ok for each one of these what are the secondary consequences? Then when you finish that then what are the tertiary consequences of each of the secondary ones? So, the futures wheel sort of like spreads out like when you throw a pebble in a stream or a pond it ripples comes out well life is like that too. So, the futures wheel helps you organize information in terms of secondary and tertiary consequences. That’s usually what gives people a problem because they said they’re blindsided by their business. This new thing happened and oh my god now I got a mess on my hands. If I had only seen that ahead of time. Well that’s the purpose of futures wheel. It helps you look around the whole the system a little more broadly.

I know that futuring is something that us futurists we’re definitely very well aware. I know that sometimes you work with the larger companies but I find that small companies have such a potential for growth.

What they can do is every small business knows what are potential problems coming up. Whether its supply cost or whatever it happens to be or somebody’s going to be leaving next month whatever it is. You call that an event. It has a beginning and end. The persons going to leave the company in three months or something. So, you take the little piece of paper out and you say okay Joe leaves the company in six months. What else will happen? Well I got to go find somebody. What are all those little things that come out from that? Then you use it to go through the whole process. So, whatever uncertainty you have do a futures wheel around it to help you get more certain or more clarity about what’s possible. Then if you want to get fancy write a story. Joe leaves in six months and then this happened. So, you write a story and one of the purposes of writing the story or the scenario is to find out what you didn’t know. So, any writer will tell you when you write a story at some point you go I have no idea what’s going to happen next. That’s good because when you don’t know something that was important then you can start to think about well what do I do about that unknown?

Do you believe that people would be able to hire better and do a better job with the hiring if they had this information?

Well you’ve heard the expression it’s better to think ahead than not. Blindsided means you didn’t think ahead you didn’t look around. This is how our brain is structured. If I go down this street I’m going to run into this traffic jam problem so I better go over here but if I go over here I’ll run into Sam and I don’t want to see Sam. This is the way our brains think. Futurists just give you organized structures for what you’re doing anyway a little bit.

There’s a lot of kids that are going to school and yet there are a lot of jobs that are not going to be there in a very short while because things are changing so quickly. Then there’s the artificial intelligence and all of this. How do you look at the future of businesses and the future of work?

If you have a process in your business from market research to evaluation of sales or whatever process you have put it on a piece of paper blah blah blah blah this is how the process of our business works. Then say okay now can any of this be automated more efficiently, yes or no? If yes, how might it be automated? Then you can contract some software firms to say can you give me some AI to do that so that your whole business grows with artificial intelligence. You’re in a sense surfing the wave rather than having the wave wipe you out. Now that’s for business. With employment it’s the other side of the coin because if you’re figuring out how to automate the functions out of your process then Joe could get fired next year. So. what does Joe do? Well Joe should start to say what are my hobbies? What do I like to do? What turns me on? Then how do I find markets for that around the world? Then how do I connect up with that? You will eventually make a living at a self-actualization not right off the bat but you begin. It’s just like the Industrial Age doesn’t happen just with a steam engine. There’s a whole lot of stuff that had to happen. So, as we move into this post information age post communications era and into a self-actualization era. It’ll take some while. But what will make it successful for a Joe or the other people coming up unemployed is how do I make a living out of being myself? I mean yes, we figure by 2050 you still have a billion-people employed around the world. So, that’s going to hit everybody. But if the workforce in 2050 is six billion that means one out of six people are not employed in the usual way. People may still have regular jobs that’s true but the growth of employment will be self-employment. So, the way you start now is how do I make a living out of some of my hobbies. Like let’s say that you are somebody who likes to design unique hoop earrings and you’ve got a friend down the street who’s got this hobby on making sensors. So, you have telephone earrings you could be the first person selling telephone earrings. What are my hobbies? What’s turning me on? How do I know the world is interested in this stuff? Well you can start a website. Who’s interested in scratching my nose or whatever it happens to be? And people start to come in. Half the world now is on the internet. That means every person on the Internet is surrounded by half the world. Now we don’t know how to get to half the world because we don’t think that way. Half the world is like four billion people or so more or less a little less than that. That’s a lot of people. You only need like .0000001% of all that to get quite rich. That’s what I would suggest to Joe. You keep doing your job you’re not leaving it yet. Don’t leave your day job we figure out how you make a living on what your interests are because if we have a civilization where more and more people are actually making a living out of being themselves honesty should go up bullshit should go down. Human relationships should improve. I mean how many people are unhappy today because of their boss, their job, their partners or commute whatever the hell it happens to be. There’s something they’re pissed off about. We could actually make this transition it was impossible before. You had no choice but to go down the street for a job. You had no choice. You had to do it this way. And if there’s only five different kinds of occupations that’s what you fit into. So, you went to school to learn how to fit in. We’re still now having education systems learning how to fit in. Well we now got to change the education to learn how do I know who I am? Most people never do. They’re born, they work, they die. They never found out who they were.

I have a client in the food service who was telling me all of the problems in food service. He was like these are the issues and I was like that’s fantastic. He was like no that’s not fantastic this is horrible.

These are the problems and I said now we need to work on the solutions.

This is a problem-solving technique. People forget that business is a problem-solving technique.

Exactly and he who finds the solution profits. I was like this is fantastic. That’s it you pegged it. You found all of the problems. In the beginning he was like lost like this is good. I’m like this is wonderful. When you think futures, you think now that we found this problem how are we going to solve it? Well this is excellent I love this because this really applies to everyone. And you also become an asset to your job if you think this way.

It’s an asset to your family because you’re doing something that you want to do. Somebody did a PhD dissertation on happiness or humor or something. But the idea is doing what you’re good at makes you happy.

Exactly not only doing what you’re good at but enjoy what you do and you enjoy what you do when you’re good at what you do. For those people that have this trepidation of starting their own business well then don’t start your own business but become an asset.

But what I’m also saying to people is even if you don’t want to start your own business relax. Explore your hobby. You’re not starting your business yet. You’re just warming up. This is like the little leagues.

A little early stuff. So just do the hobby mess around for four or five years. That will grow. So, that if you do get automated out of a job you have a soft landing.

I want to talk a little bit about the pack-switching. I want you to explain that to the audience. What is that and how does that really apply to all of us?

Packet switching was actually a French invention that they sold the patent to the United States. Not smart. You license you don’t sell patents. Anyway, they did that. So, what packet switching is, is in the old days when you have your computer connected to a telephone. All this data would go out of your computer and it would go to the telephone authority. Then it would be switched up to a satellite. Now if you just did it that way you’re on your computer for an hour you’re charged for an hour of satellite time. Which is a fortune. So, what packet switching does is as the stuff goes down and gets into the telephone company it takes it from you. Then it makes a package makes another package makes another package makes another package. So, it’s like turning a river into little bebes. Then that little bebe is sent to a satellite and then transferred to wherever it’s supposed to go. Which means that if you’re on a computer for an hour or a day the actual satellite time maybe just a few seconds. Well that’s very cheap. That’s why internet became so inexpensive worldwide because of packet switching.

With the millennial project this are some of the things that you do?

Well no we did the packet switching back in the early 80s because that was a done deal. Now everybody enjoys it they don’t even know how it happened. What we do now for example one we’re exploring right now is to create a state of the future index for gender justice. If gender justice is better in ten years what does that mean specifically and how do we measure that? Another one we’re working on is taking those issues about the future of work in technology and doing workshops around the world. Another one we’re starting is future of governance. How do we move the future of governance into a better way? Like we got artificial intelligence coming up how do we govern that? Now if United States does everything great and another country doesn’t we get affected by it. So, we had to create some global governance systems. How do we do that? And that’s one of the things we’re working on now.

Fascinating projects. what is a good source of future possibilities? What do you see as the future?

We produce over the last 20 years reports called the state of the future reports. One has just come out that your readers can download, PDFs cost less money, is the state of the future 19.1. So, if they do a google search on state of the future 19.1 they can find it. Or they can go to our website which is millennium with two L’s and two N’s millennium – not underlined project org (https://www.millennium-project.org.) It’ll have a bunch of sources. They’ll have state of the future there. They’ll have the methodologies and methods I’d talked about and a bunch of other stuff. So, that’s a sort of a window to a whole lot. There’s more stuff there than you’re going to be able to absorb for a while. But, we’ve worked hard to make it clear and simple. You can also download the executive summary of the state of the future no charge. So, that’s a good thing to start with just click on where it says English if that’s your language. Then download that and read it. If you want more than you can come back to the website.

So, basically what you do is that you just research and you look at different areas, different industries in business globally and how they impact the future? And how we can make that change. Is that accurate?

I also travel a lot around the world so I’m interacting with people of different orientations. So, it helps me not be so us-centric.

And you also see it from different perspectives. When you travel around the world what you’re doing is you’re gathering data or?

Well both. Somebody will say give a speech somewhere so that gets me there. Then we had these nodes around the world so then they’ll set up other meetings and other activities. So, we’re using the public speakers circuit to cut our travel costs.

Where do you see the future? Where do you see the future? My audience is mostly business people, if you could give them one suggestion what would that be?

First of all, one suggestion isn’t what I should do because the future is complex. It’s like is your heart better than your brain? Prioritize between the two of them? I can’t do that. I’ll dribble on quickly about a couple of things. One biology is going to be a bigger deal than people realize. Synthetic biology is not genetic engineering. Genetic engineering you take a little DNA you knock something out you put something in and it still erode it. Just happens to erode that glows. Synthetic biology is you’re taking different kinds of genetic materials or molecular structures from completely different species and creating new things. Think of all the things that nature can do that you can’t do. Then imagine creating products out of all of that. That’s going to be giant. So, the biological revolution may be as big as the industrial revolution coming up. So, anything related to that should grow. Another is how do you help the transition to the self-actualizing economy? There’s going to be a whole lot of degree training. All kinds of activities. Like imagine you’re doing the transition from the agricultural age to the Industrial Age. What had to happen? That’s all kinds of business opportunities. It’s the same thing between the information economy and the self-actualization economy. What are all the things that have to be done and how do you fit into all that? What in there interests you?

And that’s how you create your own job?

Yeah. Well like for example I like talking about the future so I connected to Markets worldwide and here we are on your show.

And I like talking about the future and here’s why I have the show. Because this is something that’s really essential for people to understand. A lot of people live for that here and now. They don’t understand even if they plan out they plan out maybe a year or two ahead but they’re not really looking at this picture. At fifteen twenty twenty-five thirty years ahead because the truth of the matter is that things are changing so quickly. You may think you’re prepared for 25 years and that may happen in five years.

Well consider the following a baby born while we’re talking will probably see the year 2100. Life expectancy worldwide, not just US, worldwide is over 70 years old now. Medical science is not going to slow down. Longevity research is just beginning. Health conditions and urban conditions are going to be getting better. So, it’s reasonable to people life expectancy will be longer than 70. Well that puts it over the year 2100.

Thank you for giving me your time this is really important. I love your information. I would love for you to come back to the show and be able to share more of the stuff that you’re doing. So, thank you so much for being here. We look forward to seeing you again in the very near future and until then I will see you.

Thank you. Have a happy future.

All right guys so this ends this segment with Dr. Jerome Glenn. We thank him for being here. And we look forward to next week where we’ll have another futurist here to share their information to help you be able to understand the future a little bit more each week. All right thank you so much guys bye.

Our Guest

Jerome Glenn is the CEO of The Millennium Project, a leading global participatory think tank since 1996. Which NOW has 63 Nodes around the world.

He is the lead author of the “State of the Future reports” for the past 20 years, co-editor of its “Futures Research Methodology 3.0”, and designed and manages the online Global Futures Intelligence System.

He invented the “Futures Wheel” and concepts such as conscious-technology, self-actualization economy, and definitions of environmental security and Collective Intelligence.

The “Futures Wheel” a method for graphical visualization of direct and indirect future consequences of a particular change or development.

Jerome is the author book Future Mind about “information warfare in the late 1980s.”  He sent his first email in 1973, and in the mid-1980s he was instrumental in getting x.25 packet switching in 29 developing countries for low-cost Internet access.  His Future Work/Tech 2050 Global Scenarios are currently being used in national workshops in 18 countries.

He has also been instrumental in naming the first Space Shuttle, the Enterprise.  

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Interview With Jerome Glenn “Entrepreneurs Discover Futures Competency”

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