Strategic Foresight Practitioner, Author,
and International Lecturer
ALEXANDER MANU
Intro

1
The economic system is all about what we want to be now, and what we want to
become in the near future.
Present day capitalism assumes that the moving force of the economic system is the access to energy resources and the possession of the same resources. Everything else is discounted to favour energy. For a long time, market sentiment agreed, and Exxon was the company with the largest market cap. This is not today's reality anymore. Apple Corporation has the largest market cap, and everyone seems at times confused as to why. Breakthrough capitalism has already happened! Apple, Google (with YouTube combined) and Facebook, just the three of them, have redefined what capitalism is all about. Some are focusing on the wrong things when looking for the constant of a business enterprise, and not the variable. The variable is behavior. And in this new context, to 'be-have' means to have in order to be, and in order to become.
DISRUPTION AND PHILOSOPHY
Disruption is a catalyst for transformative change and new knowledge and thought. As current knowledge systems have not necessarily been set up to reflect disruptions, this book is about the creation of knowledge as the starting point of a philosophical framework for human behaviour in times of transformation. Philosophy is the logical clarification of thought, and when applied to disruption, it interprets the possible impacts of a disruptor. The philosophy of disruption inhabits the transition space between the disruption of the existing order and its transformation, re-establishing the balance between what we know and what we need to know. Change is a sequence of a disruptor leading to a disruption, which leads to a transition, leading to transformation. We cannot ignore the role of philosophy and the humanities in this sequence. No discipline combines philosophy's critical thinking, analytical skills, and cognitive skills with the broader humanities' people skills, symbolic reasoning, and social justice perspectives. When disruptors change the context of entire industries, systems, and markets, we need to activate our capacities to reason. The role of philosophy is to understand human behaviour in terms of reason, logic, rational thought, and the exploration of human actions.
DISRUPTION, UNLEARNING AND THE SELF

Disruption does not mean knowledge is being taken away; it means that knowledge is being changed, and there is a tendency for the self-concept to shift out of agreement with technology disruptors. Self-concepts are the behaviours and attitudes that make one think and act in specific ways. They are the values that individuals adopt and are embedded in cultural codes. The self-concept includes beliefs and attitudes about others, the purpose of personal goals, how one needs to get to them, and how one contributes to societal goals. Unlearning is the ability of the self to un-connect from the self-concept and give critical attention to areas in which self-concepts are unhelpful—unlearning means discarding things that were once a part of one's identity. Unlearning is a process that starts with a moment of introspection. To unlearn means that we choose to stop taking for granted our truths. To unlearn is to grow curious about our world, to ask questions. When we embrace unlearning, we accept the possibilities of a new world, a world that offers different challenges, challenges that are consonant with our values and traditions, and a world that could be much better.

A MULTIDIMENSIONAL PHENOMENON
Ultimately, disruption is a multidimensional phenomenon because its forces are moving at various speeds in multiple directions, making disruption not just a matter of one moment coming and one moment disappearing. Disruption creates a shock and causes us to respond to it by creating new behaviours and a new set of beliefs and ways of doing things. Disruption cycles ask us to think for ourselves. We are forced to change our behaviours. We are forced to change our minds. When we transform our beliefs and our behaviours, we transform our world. When we change the rules of our world, we are changing the rules of our future.

A continuous stream of change disrupts our world, from news to technology to information about everything. These are the transformational changes we are faced with today. The purpose of this book is to describe and explain how disruptions occur and take hold and help the reader recognize patterns of transformational moments and the mindset that can turn them into opportunities.


Books
I am pleased to announce that my new book, The Philosophy of Disruption was released both electronically and in hard cover on July 28, 2022, by Emerald Publishing Group.

The book is also available on all online retail platforms as well as on e-book platforms, including Kobo, Google Play, Amazon/Kindle Books. GoodReads and Vital Source.
Unlearning is our invitation to new possibilities. Unlearning is about personal freedom, about making changes to the fundamental foundation of your life. It is only through unlearning that we can begin to learn that the horizon of possibilities extends to far greater than the horizon of our everyday experience. Unlearning is our invitation to new possibilities.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
Human life expressed as civilization is the reflection of the Tools available and the sum of the Shells, Networks and Settlements these tools have allowed us to build. We are both constrained and expanded by our Tools. Tools define Networks and Settlements.

Tools, Shells, Networks and Settlements exist because humanity needs to exist – they are not merely extensions of ourselves, they are ourselves, they are the way we exist, the means by which we exist, and by which we protect ourselves, propagate our knowledge and organize our groups, in order to leave a mark for others like us.

FUTURE-PROOFING

Future-proofing is not about predicting the future, it is about creating it. It is about realizing the immensity of being human, and setting new goals from this new understanding, goals leading to a new destination. New goals open new timelines, and new timelines change the outcomes of the journey.

THE END OF THE BEGINNING
The convergence of technologies which are social in nature and augmented and autonomous in performance, has now reached its maximization in most markets. This is the real birth of convenience technologies, which deliver benefits while being invisible and addressable simply by voice. In time, people will forget how they used to shop by driving their car to a suburban mall, just like they forgot how they used to walk three kilometers to get water from the water well in their village.

The difference between science and politics and the disciplines of sociology, economics, and environmental sciences is that their aim is not to change but to explain.

We are not about working on things with things. We are about creating moments of compelling power that move us forward, toward more compelling moments. We are carving time, for our own time on earth. The future proposed in my work has always been in us humans, as we have journeyed throughout time to achieve the technologies that will make it real.

Human life revolves around the tangibles that we have created as well as the one we have inherited. The tangibles of our manifest presence form the culture of our civilizations; they are both a burden and a purpose, as humans are destined to create and to maintain civilizations in order to survive. In the course of our history we have created Tools, Shells and Networks, each of them as a reflection of the technological accomplishments of the times in which they were produced, as well as of the dreams of the people that created them. All summed up in the Settlements that contain our organized and purposeful social groups.

Human life expressed as civilization is the reflection of the Tools available and the sum of the Shells, Networks and Settlements these tools have allowed us to build. We are both constrained and expanded by our Tools. Tools defineNetworks and Settlements. In the past, these Networks were in close proximity, as were Settlements, due to practical reasons like natural resource availability – water – effort conservation, and so on. With the advent of the digital Network, digital data as a material and the tools it creates allows for the creation of Settlements unbound by physical proximity, bound only by social identity, scope and preferences.
Art is the best invention of the human mind. In the history of ideas, its most significant achievements have been in revealing and celebrating the mysterious and sublime qualities of art in the hope that they will inform the practice of living. The more we inhabit the world around us, the more we shall have to create art to illuminate and ennoble the human condition.

Concepts are immutable abstractions. The definition of something gives it value, and the ideas surrounding a concept affect us and how we experience reality. This is the basis of understanding conceptual frameworks. Concepts do not exist independently of a perceived worldview. A conceptual framework is a system by which we define our thoughts, actions, and emotions. The framework is an abstraction that provides a context within which we operate and make decisions.
Humans will become connoisseurs, lovers, partners, artists, creators, innovators, painters, friends, travelers, musicians, poets, dreamers, and companions. The most significant task of every day will be deciding what to do. Making decisions will be roughly everything that is left to do. What will set us apart from our objects will be the limits of self-awareness, which are emotions and feelings, empathy, irony, values, and doubt.

FOUNDATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES
We squeeze the new in the shape and meaning of the old, because we often understand value only as a measure of the conformity with the old perspective of the preexisting framework.

But the new does not want to be measured this way, because it presents a completely new system of values, which challenges and will eventually extinguish the old system. A foundational challenge takes place when the essential means by which a human activity is performed is fundamentally and permanently transformed. Such a foundational challenge was the introduction of digital technology and data management in every business, and in every domain of human life. A foundational challenge for organizations is expressed by this question: will the old value system ultimately be ended, and if so, by what?



THE PLATFORM MINDSET
To future-proof an activity or organization, we must look at where people will go and congregate on mass, and follow them with our technology, product or service. And today people congregate and engage dynamically on digital platforms, which have become foundational to our way of being and the way we conduct life at the present time.

A behavior platform is a place where contentment is discovered in the present, and it is also sought in the present, in a compressed time frame and in a manner that is felt by the individual. The success or failure of a behavior platform, and for that matter of any service concept connected to a user engagement journey, is directly related to the average satisfaction people get in connection to the speed with which they get contentment, and the speed with which their desires are being met.

DYNAMIC EXPECTATIONS
Dynamic expectations signify the expectation of an individual in regard to the ordinary performance of a digital platform, based on lived experience on other digital platforms.

We now expect platforms to be social – include social groupings and contexts, social objects, and a plurality of participants - we expect them to be augmented – allowing access to any number of tools that expand the time spent on the platform with beneficial engagement via stimuli which are intrinsically motivating - and we expect them to be autonomous – capable of accomplishing tasks independent of user involvement.


When objects embody the characteristics of self-awareness, all frictions between humans and objects will melt away, and the individual will no longer guide technology, but technology will guide the individual. One of the answers to this question is a life in which technology drives choice.


My work describes the mechanisms by which new value is captured and created in enterprises dedicated to play a role in the behavior economy.
It all starts with learning a new language – the language of ideas – and with establishing frameworks of possibility in the ideology of the enterprise. Value creation is the expansion of relationships enabled by a disruptor media and the creation of new behaviors as a result. This opens two needed capabilities for a business: The first is upstream, creating the platform services people want to engage with. The second is downstream: marketing, distributing and selling these platforms as services. By the nature of the activities involved, the upstream and downstream capabilities are quite different in scope, inputs and outputs. The downstream calls for methodology – what do we have to do and how? - while the upstream calls for ideology - why and for whom are we doing this? In the context of enterprise, ideology is a way of being, behaving and influencing the world. An attitude. A mindset.

Our culture will be increasingly centered around the pursuit of possibility. It is not about a specific outcome, or about how this or that is achieved, or even about the means to achieve it, but it is all about possibility itself, and the idea that this or that is in the making right here, right now, and we are here to help make it so. This is the promise of evolution, which cannot be appreciated by merely acting as a spectator and must instead be experienced, through consciousness, as something in itself.
FUTUREPROOFING THE SELF
Over the next decades we have to be ready to accept that the core assumptions underlying our individual realities will change dramatically. We have a choice to embrace this change and become creators of the future. And for that, we need to develop the ability to adapt and transform ourselves at will.




THE RICHLY AUGMENTED FUTURE
The richly augmented future is a destination, and a promise of what life can be, at the convergence of the Internet of Things with the fourth industrial revolution, enabling us to redefine our personal models of consumption, meaning, purpose, work and learning.

THE FUTURE OF KNOWING
When our jobs and chores will disappear by virtue of technology, we will have an abundance of work in creating multiple traces of our existence and trying to understand which one might last longer than the other. Our work will be that of creating moments of compelling power, moments moving us forward in our life, towards more compelling moments. Our work would be that of participating in other people's lives, as a reflection and affirmation of both them and us.


We are at the moment history turns a corner
Behind us we see the age of mass manufacture and industrial might, represented by large multinational corporations, giants that could bend steel and transform it into airplanes, ships, trains and bridges. Those were impressive days; the days in which we built the infrastructure of the world, as we thought these variables would be a constant of civilizations to come. We covered the ground with asphalt, redefined communities around the automobile, and redefined the way we connected people to people, and people to goods and services.
These were physical manifestations of a moment in history, but we regarded them as history itself, having a hard time imagining how things could be different. All we have defined so far as the indispensable infrastructure for our way of life might simply not exist in the industrialized world 50 years from now. Because just around the corner we are seeing the first signs of a life in which everything is social, everything is augmented and everything is autonomous. A convergence called life subscribed. In this new context, life becomes a subscription to moments, curated invisibly by virtue of our past actions, and our sets of preferences.

STREAMING VALUE
We need to reimagine all human transactions as a steady stream moving to and from every individual. For any action that generates a benefit to the whole, individuals will be credited in a value stream for the duration of the engagement, and as fair compensation for the value provided. This is a dynamic and synchronic value transfer system, one in which data is used to its most definable and mission critical attribute which its ability to be transmitted on a network.

Data streaming is the acknowledgement that in the course of time, the accumulation of transformative technologies becomes a driver for a massive overhaul of civilization itself. Fire has done that, electricity has done that, and now the use of data as material for interaction is doing the same thing.





CHANGING HOW THE WORLD CHANGES
Empowered intrinsic motivation, coupled with the provision of social media and other behavior platforms allowing for participation, have transformed the economic system over the past 15 years into a behavior economy. This transformation has changed the relationship between companies and their customers, and the expectation for engagement between brands and users.

Empowered users have discovered themselves as social beings, with agency to shape the world by all available means, affecting the experience of life itself. Empowered participation is motivating people to set new goals for engaging with life, to discover and create new experiences, to seek meaning and pleasure in actions conditioned only by the self-desire to per-form and be seen in the social realm.



DATA AS MATERIAL
Ideas represent concepts, communicating emotion through the plasticity of the material the artist chooses to express in. The key in this relationship is the nature of the material, and the extent of the material plasticity, how far the artist could push its limits, and how much empowerment others have to transform it.

In traditional materials like stone, paint, marble or steel, the others had only the empowerment to watch, to be the spectators of the experience. With data as material, the other – you and me - has the empowerment to remix, to contribute, to re-shape and transform. The power to participate. The mobility, immediacy, and convenience of using data to communicate ideas, emotions or facts, has transformed the experience of art into everyday life, and with it, people's expectations and behaviors.



The future as ethos has little to do with technology; it has only to do with what we want of ourselves
Starting from scratch means wiping the slate clean of any past structures and imagining how the ingredients we have at our disposal, can frame a new type of society, in which people's desires, wants and needs are being satisfied in new ways. In building such an organization or service from scratch we can retain some of the values of the present, but not the physical infrastructure. Starting from scratch is a challenge to one's ability to create new images of self, constructing a new world from the inside out, as both a participant as well as a creature of it. These new images, and the artifacts they create in turn, are reflections of new life priorities, and the heights of existence we want to achieve through the new story. A new, and inspiring ethos.
New Book
Preview

THE PHILOSOPHY OF DISRUPTION
From
Transition
to
Transformational
Change






For the context of this book, a disruption occurs when human motivation embraces new technology and allows it to enhance and expand the experience of everyday life. In this definition, the disruptor is the technology, while disruption is the human being engaged in a new behaviour. People's acceptance and appropriation of new technologies creates a business disruption, which changes, interrupts, transitions, and eventually transforms people's habitual way of doing things. This book provides a structural understanding of how disruption is so different from regular change and offers methods for conceptualizing beneficial responses into products, services, or experiences.

Disruption studies are distinct from other research fields such as technological innovation because disruption is a category of knowledge, as argued in this book. A philosopher seeks knowledge, and knowledge is essential for understanding disruption. Knowledge about disruption is not about knowing what happens but more about how it happens. The core challenge of disruption is the essential questions we need to ask in every situation and why we need to ask them. When looking at disruption from a philosophical perspective, we can begin to formulate a set of testable principles of disruption.

Two critical phases are described in this book to prepare for rapid responses to disruptors that lead to societal disruptions: the first is the transition phase, the immediate changes brought about by a radical new idea fundamentally altering our relationships. The second is the transformative change phase- using that radical new idea to establish and sustain an entirely new organization or system.

By investigating and describing these transitions and transformations, this book provides a framework for measuring, planning, and changing how organizations are run and the activity they support and provides processes for understanding and translating conceptualization into action.


EXCERPT from Chapter 1.1 Understanding Disruption

THE GREAT DISRUPTOR

When the disruptor is a technology - as opposed to a natural event - the disruption is not. The disruption is always manifesting at the behavioural level of everyday life, culture, and society, transforming how people accomplish tasks and fundamentally challenging the very structures upon which economic activity is based. These include:
  • Interactions of various non-economic cultural variables form every human culture.
  • The disruption in a relationship that occurs when one non-economic cultural variable is disrupted and replaced with another non-economic variable by technological means.
  • Or when the disruption is the basis of the change in behaviour.

    Let us take technology seriously as a disruptor. We must also take it seriously as a disruption because of its power to alter how we relate to nature and ourselves. The great disruptor, which shifts the paradigm of human existence, is technology-aided or modified behavior. Why does this matter?

    Technology is the amorphous entity that is present everywhere around us. It is all around us informing and continuously transforming a new human condition, and now has an increasingly profound effect on our changing relationship to nature. Technology makes a deep-seated impact on how our perception of nature is transformed by the expanding technologies that interconnect humanity and nature, enabling us to achieve seemingly impossible feats.

    Our perspective of nature has changed, and we are only just starting to come to grips with the implications of this transformation. This shifts how we manage land, labour, and the services required to run the planet's machinery. Without technology, in a hierarchical, more highly defined sense, we would have been living a different life altogether than the one we have today. It would have been a life driven entirely by nature and not the quirks of human will. If we did not build the authority to do this – to modify nature as much as possible and conform it to our will - we would not exist. In Ancient Greek mythology, Gaia was the woman in charge of the Earth. While today we understand Gaia to be the collective identity of all life on Earth, in a society steeped in traditional thought, Gaia was indeed the soul of the human world.

    Our entire idea of nature's omnipotence was seemingly based upon this relationship to nature. From the beginning of time, we knew that the elements of Earth – its soil, mountains, rivers, clouds, starry skies, and the weather – formed the basis of all that life on Earth contained. We also knew that this material world was interwoven with many invisible realms of nature beyond the grasp of human consciousness. This knowledge is no longer doubted. Instead, it is used to support radically different ideas of nature; technology has changed our understanding of nature from an inanimate, inert being into a living, dynamic entity. Our relationship to the environment has also changed because of this awareness of nature as living, integral and interconnected. Humans no longer see nature and ourselves as separate entities.

    The social domain of our lives is no longer based on a dichotomy between nature and humanity. Instead, it is shaped and influenced by a far more dynamic and alive relationship. Under this new paradigm of nature, the formal political and economic roles we have created for ourselves through human ingenuity and labour no longer serve us. We are now in the grip of a technology-generated oligarchy, in which it is us, and only us, who rule the planet, and we need to learn to see this new world of interdependence in the same way we see our great aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. The new knowledge that nature and all life are integral to each other, while at the same time, unique and non-distinct, is not something that can be assimilated and controlled with technology alone. We need understanding and a new or possibly renewed philosophy of life, one that integrates any upcoming disruptors with joy and competence by understanding the permanence of disruption as we understand water or the wind.

    This transformation requires humility, willingness to change, listening skills, empathy, creativity, open-mindedness, and constant learning.


Emerald Publishing Limited. Hardcover. 252 pages. 152 x 229mm. Release date: July 28, 2022


Topics
PART I. Understanding Disruption
1.1Understanding Disruption
1.2Disruptive Knowledge
1.3The Philosophy of Disruption

PART II. Understanding Transformation

2.1 From Transition to Transformation
2.2 Transformation Frameworks
2.3 Transformational Leadership
PART III. Narratives of Disruption
3.1 Metaphors for Transformational Change
3.2 Strategic Foresight and the Narrative of Disruption
3.3 Disruptive Convergence
PART IV. Framing
4.1 Disruption and Self-Concept
4.2 Disruption and Anchoring Bias
4.3 Learning to Unlearn
PART V. The Interval
5.1 Conceptual Tools for Transformative Change
5.2 The Contemplative Interval


© 2021 Alexander Manu
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