#LocalGovCamp Lockdown – Charting & Strategising for Ongoing Uncertainties

I’ll be presenting a short introductory workshop, “The Pandemic and Beyond: Charting & Strategising for Ongoing Uncertainties“, at next week’s #LocalGovCamp session looking at COVID-19, the lockdown, and what lies beyond.

File:Tsunami by hokusai 19th century.jpg
The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai

It’s the first ever virtual #LocalGovCamp, and in my workshop, we’ll consider the distinction between risk and uncertainty, explore straightforward ways to identify our strategic blindspots, and try out a range of tools intended to help an organisation and its stakeholders have richer, smarter conversations about their future decisions, on or offline.

We’ll refer to some practical case studies, and have time for questions and discussion of what it means to plan your way through the current pandemic and beyond.

Join us on Tuesday 12 May, 11.15am – 12 noon British Summer Time.

Many roads ahead: Workshop for Business Finland

Late last year, I joined Alex Glennie of the UK-based innovation foundation Nesta on a short project in Helsinki.

Alex & I were supporting the Finnish innovation agency, Business Finland, as they explored the concept of “mission-oriented innovation”, where innovation policy is linked to societal missions.

Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 18.06.30

Using ‘fast facilitation’ methods to swiftly elicit key ideas and pressing challenges, we asked participants to consider their mission in terms of the value created by their relationships with stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem.

You can read about the project, and see what happened on our visit to Helsinki, at the Nesta website.

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Draw Your Day: Reshaping Time During Lockdown

How are you spending your days under lockdown or restricted movement? Which parts of your routine have changed? What’s working for you and what’s not?

How do you perceive time – have days begun to run into one?

Are work and home life still easy to separate? Do you have to fit your job around childcare and homeschooling? Do you notice when the weekends arrive?

Draw Your Day is a short activity using a pen, paper, and some basic shapes to help you examine and rethink the ways you’re spending time during lockdown.

It’s based on a tried and tested activity from workshops I’ve run around the world, derived in turn from a task set for students by the comics scholar Nick Sousanis. It’s quick, and it’s fun.

Draw your day

If you’ve got something to make a mark with, and something to make a mark on, and you’re curious about your relationship to time during lockdown, you can watch the activity and take part on YouTube; the whole thing takes about half an hour.

In the Library of Last Resort

I wrote a little while back about the need for escapism in these trying times, and to help with that I’ve released a short “choose-your-own” text game.

There’s songs and robots, plenty to read, a world to explore and a mystery to be solved when you visit The Library of Last Resort.

Photograph of a long corridor of bookshelve apparently stretching off endlessly into a white light at the vanishing point
Picture by Flickr user Rich Grundy – CC BY 2.0

I got the idea a couple of years back, when I was exploring the idea of interactive nonfiction and games where there was the opportunity for the player to surprise the author.

In an earlier incarnation, The Library of Last Resort benefited from the editing of the brilliant Adalya Nash Hussein, and advice from Gersande La Flèche & Rob Sherman. It uses Gersande’s code to create the in-game inventory.

It’s not polished, and I welcome feedback, but hopefully it will provide you with an escape when you need one. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a way to surprise me with my own game…

You can play The Library of Last Resort here, or check out my previous interactive piece, A Tear in Flatland.

Our feral future: working on the crises you did(n’t) see coming

Over the last few weeks, on and offline, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about “preparing for the future you didn’t see coming”.

The foresight approaches which I favour tend to avoid predicting the future. Instead, I work with clients to highlight the futures you didn’t anticipate, either because you had a strategic blindspot or because you chose to ignore them.

Man with protective mask
Man with protective mask by Wikipedia user Tadeáš Bednarz – CC BY-SA 4.0

Was the pandemic one of the futures we couldn’t see coming, or one which we chose not to? And since its arrival, have our responses been based on what is really unfolding, or on mental models which we had previously constructed? Read more

You’ll Need To Get Away

We’ve been holed up in the apartment for a few weeks now, and work has been quite busy. (Institutions become keen on planning for uncertainty when they suddenly realise they’re smack in the middle of an uncertainty they hadn’t anticipated or prepared for).

Every week or so I’ve posted something on this site to help guide people in their pandemic decision-making: short pieces on thinking rigorously about the future and being kind to your future selves, scenario planning webinars, conversations with people trying to find a way through the current crisis.

That’s great and good, but work isn’t all we’re on this Earth for. I’m grateful that friends and relatives remain in good health, and that our household seems able to cope with lockdown conditions without people driving one another up the wall – and mindful that for many, things will already be much harder.

Still, however comfortable your quarantine, you’ll need to get away somehow. Options for escape and retreat can become quite limited under current circumstances. Normally I’d be out hiking the cliffs and forests if I needed to get away from a stressful situation, but with that option denied, instead I’m reading even more than usual.

And if you need an escape, if you’re stuck within your own four walls and spending hours of your day at the desk of an improvised home office: here’s the getaway you were looking for.

Rogue Male | AM Heath Literary Agents

Read more

Real Time – Webinar with R. David Lankes

Today I spoke with leading US information professional R. David Lankes about foresight, strategy, and coping with uncertainty beyond immediate short-term crisis response.

David created one of the first 100 web sites ever, plus the first web presence for CNN, the Discovery Channel, and the U.S. Department of Education. We spoke about what he foresaw at the beginning of the Internet age, the surprises which emerged along the way, and how we might learn from the past when the future is uncertain and unlikely to repeat what went before.

You can watch the YouTube video below, or read more at the Librarians.Support website.