Masters of Strategic Foresight (MSF) Wake Melbourne 25th November 2016 By Richard Slaughter

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In late November some 150 people turned up at the Kelvin Club in Melbourne for a private function to celebrate the success and mark the imminent closure of the MSF program at Swinburne University. The original program was set up in 1999 at the invitation of the then VC, Iain Wallace, as the Australian Foresight Institute (AFI). With Barry Jones as its patron and an experienced and capable board, it soon acquired a distinctive national and international profile. As is well known I was appointed as Foundation Professor of Foresight and ran the AFI until 2004. At that time a new VC was appointed who pursued a very different agenda which, for reasons best known to himself, included closing all the university’s institutes. The foresight program was then absorbed into the Business School. Peter Hayward took over the directorship and ran the re-named MSF for the next decade. The program will close in 2017 after 17 years.

During that time perhaps 200 ‘mid-career professionals’ have taken the program or, in some cases, taken units of particular interest from it. Listening to those who undertook the course one hears many variations on a consistent theme. That is, how it changed lives, allowed people to see the world and themselves differently and, in the end, to discern new personal, organisational and social options. So while the program had its ups and downs it will be remembered as an outstanding success, and one of which all those involved can be proud. And more have been involved than can be named here. They know who they are and thanks are due to each and every one of them.

It was fitting that Joseph Voros, who’d taught in the program longer than anyone, was the MC for the evening. His enduring penchant for formal wear received expression during the evening with many choosing to emulate his spotless dinner suit. A space was also made to remember some of the colleagues who were no longer with us: John Batros, Frank Fisher, Richard Neville, Jan Lee Martin and, of course, Adolph Hanich. Adolph was, in many ways, the genial ‘godfather’ of the AFI / MSF. He’d not only provided the original suggestion that led to its establishment but also enduring support and encouragement throughout.

Yet this was by no means a heavy or solemn occasion as evidenced by the many vibrant conversations taking place between people who’d shared both the frustrations and joyfulness of the course. Peter Hayward, also in formal attire, was in high demand to be thanked and pose for photographs with appreciative students and others.  The Sass and Vibe Quartet performed in a cappella (unaccompanied) mode, to the delight of all. Finally a brilliant dash of humour was added to the mix with the Foresight Foursome. This was the brainchild of Bec Mijat who worked with artist John Corba to produce delightfully witty caricatures of Joe Voros, Peter Hayward, Rowena Morrow and myself. These ‘luminaries’ were re-named as The Voroscope, Captain Foresight, Madam Tomorrow and, for myself, Richard A. Sorcerer! Hopefully this initial group will be expanded over time.

Sass and Vibe provided a farewell musical wind-down and the after-party moved downstairs to the bar where conversations continued well into the night. Overall, it was a highly successful event that all who were there are unlikely to forget.

Further information

AFI history and program: http://foresightinternational.com.au/archive/afi-history-and-program/

AFI foresight monographs: http://foresightinternational.com.au/archive/afi-foresight-monographs/

Remembering: http://richardslaughter.com.au/?page_id=1230

 

Revisiting the “other” or why we should stay calm and give Trump a chance…..for now.

Emotions are running high since our president-elect has been announced! There have been protests in various cities, walkouts of high school and college students and new Facebook pages organized around this. No one can stay objective to the values of others when their emotions are high because it evokes the “fight or flight” response. When this happens our capacity to hold multiple perspectives becomes narrower as we have less access to our neocortex while the amygdala is in command. (http://bit.ly/2cRGlzm) I don’t blame anyone for expressing their authentic emotions and personal truths. However, in order to do a better job of forecasting as a Futurist, it’s much easier if we don’t make someone unlike ourselves the “other.” And, if we can objectively observe values, then we can forecast future behavior more accurately.

On September 11, 2011, I wrote a blog on the “other” ( http://bit.ly/2geFmg9). In it, I reminded folks that Integral promotes all perspectives because they may have partial truths. Furthermore, if there is a strong reaction to something, then it should at least be explored for “shadow” issues that need to be healed and integrated into our whole consciousness. The value in this integration is, so that we have a better chance of controlling these issues instead of them controlling us. Every good futurist has a responsibility to explore their blind spots for questionable assumptions.

I was disappointed when Trump won the election. Hubby and I both caucused for Bernie as he comes closer than any other candidate to our personal values. Since he lost the primary, we got behind Hilary, but I told hubby and my Trump friends that I thought Trump had a good chance because I know the center of gravity values in this big beautiful country of ours is closer to Trump than Hilary. However, since the popular vote went with Hilary, it gives me hope the values of the country are going in the direction of more inclusion and pluralism. (http://spiraldynamics.org/faq-basics/ ).

If you know the values within a group or individual, it is easier to assess what their behavior will be in the future. While our new president-elect is certainly difficult to pin down where his authentic values are, I personally am going to try to take the high road, stay calm, and give him 100 days to see if he may be a better president than anticipated! How about you?

Welcome to Integral Futures

Integral Futures is an approach to Futures that uses Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory as its framework.  Integral Theory contains a holistic, four quadrant model that explores the interior (intentional) and the exterior (behavioral) of the individual and the interior (cultural) and the exterior (system or social) of the communal or collective. (Wilber, 1996)

Richard Slaughter was the owner of this domain for many years but has graciously transferred it to me for which I am grateful and will do my best to be a responsible, conscience steward.

Integral theory tells us that reality arises in the presence of and through the consciousness and experiences of individuals and collectives which can then be observed through behavior, science, nature and social systems.    What distinguishes Integral is that it considers the subjective experience and integrates it along with the objective, intersubjective, and the interobjective. The effects of one quadrant affect the others and a balance of all four quadrants will contribute to the health of the individual and or  the collective.  Because of the inclusiveness nature of this theory, practitioners  have a framework that is meta- or at a higher level  that will not reduce or collapse the interior experience of individuals and collectives into the exterior realm (reductionism).  All perspectives are taken into consideration. This will not create integral but will guide and track integral attempts by its practitioners. (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009)

It is my intention to share with you my thoughts on what is happening in the world of Futures and Integral and Integral Futures specifically.  I would love to collaborate with you so feel free to contact me with any thoughts to expand or disagree.  Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Wilber, K. (1996) A Brief History of Everything, Shambala, Boston & London

Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009P.3 http://integrallife.com/node/37539

My interior consciousness has value… or why I love the upper left!

My favorite quadrant of the  Integral matrix is the upper left.  This quadrant is the conscious subjective of the individual interior or the “I” of the matrix.  This is where personality type, gender types, altered states, normal states, phenomenal states, cognitive awareness, emotional access, interpersonal skills,  psychosexual  expression and spiritual experiences reside. (Esbjörn-Hargens)

My spiritual experiences are probably why I love the upper left  the most as those experiences have the most meaning for me and inform everything else I do as an individual.  Integral verifies this happens to everyone as it proposes that each quadrant has an effect on the others whether it be conscious or unconscious. (Esbjörn-Hargens)

My favorite spiritual practice is “ecstatic dance” as there is something about moving the physical body which also moves whatever is stuck which is able to rise to consciousness whether it be some type of creative solution or other “ah ha’s” that may arise. Every once in a while, if I’m lucky, I enter an altered state where instead of me doing the dance I am able to rest in the state of being danced.  It feels like heaven and I call it a “dancegasm”!

Do you have something similar that happens to you that is generated from the upper left?

Integral Futures and the “other”

Before you start thinking I’m about to expound on some horror movie or equivalent  such as the “thing” let me explain.  One of the reasons why Integral is important to Futures is because with this perspective it makes inclusion of the “other” a priority.  In order to cover all the bases of the Integral map or framework, the “other” must at least be considered. That does not mean the “other” may have all the truth, but it may have some or parts of the truth which give a fuller, more comprehensive picture of whatever Futures angle is being explored.

The main two reasons why I respect the Integral framework so much is because it includes the subjective but also because it has a “shadow” component to it that most models do not have.  Carl Jung said that whenever an individual has an emotional charge either positive or negative to another individual s behavior, it may be because of disowned parts of themselves that are projected on to others.  An example of that would be when an individual who is clearly angry is denying their anger and accusing others of possessing the anger.

So not only does Integral make  a Futures endeavor more (w)holistic, but it also is attentive in making sure it is psychologically developmentally healthy, which is always something worthy in my opinion.  How about you?