What do I do?
I'm in the better futures business. Through my company, Adaptive Edge
, and affiliated partners, I help people, organizations, and communities think more rigorously, wisely and creatively about the future so that they make more sustainable decisions in the present. My practice is devoted to improving people's adaptive capabilities, ingenuity and resilience in a time of flux and transition. I learned this unique tradecraft during six years as a scenario practitioner at Global Business Network
in San Francisco, a pioneering network and think-tank.
At present, I'm based in Paris, France but work around the globe with leaders in the private, public and NGO sectors. My projects span a wide spectrum--from the future of famine to fashion--and consist of consulting, training, action research, facilitation of conferences and meetings, and speaking and content-creation engagements.Interests and Focus
I enjoy working on those systemic acupuncture points where big shifts and changes are possible, and perhaps probable with the right intervention. To that end, I've been active in accelerating the clean technology sector and was recently meeting director for the UNSECO Summit (World Technology Network, February 2004), Leapfrogging the Grid in the Developing World
. Co-produced by Clean Edge, I was also director of meeting "The Clean Revolution: Technologies at the Leading Edge
" in San Francisco (GBN, May 2001).
Catalyzing disruptive innovations is a preoccupying interest. With so many sick industries, sick companies, sick business models, and saturated markets, I believe a healthy round of creative destruction is needed, if not inevitable. One vector for innovation is from the bottom-up. Not coincidently, then, I'm a "Base of the Pyramid" practitioner, a compelling new framework for innovating business ideas more appropriate for a developing world context. (For more see my primer, "Reperceiving Business from the Bottom Up
"). And not surprisingly, a collaborator was cheeky enough to dub me "an agent for positive social disruption dancing Shiva-like, and smiling." So I guess I've been outted.
Another group of people I'm working with is the investor community in an effort to get money flowing more smoothly and abundantly to social ventures and other overlooked parts of the world. So far, this is about developing more robust tools for making investment decisions--tools that get beyond the structural flaws within existing risk assessment approaches, which tend to ignore uncertainties and other contextual factors. Stay tuned.
Since good foresight is often a function of people's mental maps, I'm keenly interested in creating high impact learning experiences, especially using the "learning journey" methodology. (See "Finding the Future
" (pdf)) Executive education is thus another focus; I teach scenario planning to executives at CEDEP-INSEAD
, the international business school in Fontainebleau outside of Paris.
My public sector and NGO work is currently focused on innovating and incubating new capabilities and "tools"-- i.e. next-generation social ingenuity--to tackle global systemic problems more effectively. This is a big, mind-boggling, life-long project, to be sure; and my punishment for being in the Long View business, I suppose. Much of this work is cross-sectoral, multidisciplinary and in concert with other institutions. For instance, I'm a research associate at the International Policy Institute
at Kings College London. I'm also a Chaord member of Pioneers of Change
, an emerging global learning community of committed, young people.
Before San Francisco and Paris, my desire to see where the future was heading took me to Asia. Based in Singapore, I worked in venture capital with a firm specializing in financing networking and telecommunications infrastructure for Southeast Asia, an early policy and business effort to "leapfrog" these countries into a knowledge-based economy. This private-public sector crossover fit well with my graduate work (which focused on technology policy) and has been a professional theme ever since. Before that, I was also in the sense-making and intelligence business: I was a public opinion analyst and market researcher for IPSOS-Reid in Vancouver, BC, where I originally hail from. My first "real" job after graduate school was as a political speechwriter and Legislative Intern in the Parliament of British Columbia. My formal education includes two degrees from University of British Columbia (UBC) in political science and policy. In my spare time, I enjoy racing sailboats, civil aviation, traveling, the culinary arts, writing fiction and blogs (see Fuzzy Signals
)What do I want do? Where am I going?
"Stories are tools for knowing and judging," wrote one wise soul, "Change the stories and you change how people live." I believe we need to co-create better stories for our collective future, new narratives that expand the range of possibilities, pathways and options for a more sustainable future. This is my métier. My hope is that communities of communication, such as WorldChanging, can contribute to creating these new stories. So let the re-envisioning process flourish.
Send Nicole email at email@example.com