Connecting Dots 02 / Oh Man the Future


Recommended backing music: Oh Man the Future by De Lux

It’s a tranquil post King’s Day morning in Amsterdam. I’m canal-side under an elusive sun ordering a virtuous Blood Berry (beetroot + apple + ginger juice).  I’m reflecting on why “The Future” is before my eyes, in my ears and on my mind, everywhere I go these days. 

I’ve just left a great exhibited titled Futures Past & Present at the Huis Marseille photography museum. Four women over four decades with four perspectives on post industrial societal change. As my radically red juice lands I pick up a well thumbed copy of Soffa magazine, issue theme: The Future.  In my bag is the revamped Scenarios by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. Meanwhile Instagram is lighting up with first reviews of the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the London Design Museum on... his vintage view of... “The Future”.

Innovation is of course always about new, ergo the future. Though rarely is Future itself the topic, it’s more problems, needs and outcomes. However, is the resurgence of futurism revealing weak signals we are in the middle of a generational shift in how we think about the future? More importantly, what is behind our desire societally to think about it at all?

Over my life the view of the future has been dominated by “the startup”. The West Coast dogma where “new is always better”. A view increasingly coming into question as we find “move fast and break things” breaks a lot of things quite fast.

In economics we call the unintended consequence a firm doesn’t pay for externalities. Some view this resurgence in futures thinking, models and mindset a signal for people and organizations to better envision what their futures might be AND how to widen the picture of their externalities. As well a cry for help from people wrestling the cognitive overload and anxiety at work. A very real struggle where smart people work hard on things they know can’t last forever or that don’t solve the meaningful problems of our time. 

However we envision futures we aren’t predicting. We’re creating a transitional space. To invite and include many perspectives to collectively reframe, reform and rebirth how we do things like banking, transport, finance or anything else. It’s unsettling and hard but with a picture of possible futures in hand we have a space to create better futures.

Where might imagining a different future help your teams and organisation address today’s challenges?

Trial & Error

Connecting Dots is about making the complex simple and multi-disciplinary learning to help leaders innovate for the digital era. It’s an experiment, thanks for being part of the journey, feedback welcome.

Hungry for more?


I’m back in Fontainebleau this week at INSEAD. Then returning to London life serving as President of the McKinsey Case for Her brief on the D&AD New Blood black pencil jury. Say hi for ☕️

To a better today and tomorrow,


PS. If you like this newsletter please forward to a friend so we can grow the community.  Original post and subscription at Connecting Dots.

Connecting Dots 01 / Systems at Play


The economist Adam Smith came to mind as I stood astride a dim zinc bar off Place des Vosges savouring a reliable Rhone red.  Under a flickering Parisian candle the foundational material from module 1 of the EMC at INSEAD flipped by in my notebook. So much mainline knowledge straight from the source to digest, process and practice. 

Smith’s construct of “The Invisible Hand” that drives the economy through rational decisions and irrational actions has shaped the behavioural change focus of my career. Work to help companies create new products, services or ways of working that succeed or fail in the face of resistance from the super rational and conscious schools of logic most of us deploy at work, or at least think we do.

The sketched quote represents a key aspect of our work at INSEAD pioneering the emerging B-school field of systems psychodynamics. By accepting systems as constructs we shape and that shape us we can even more impactfully help leaders, teams and organizations. Typically, we think of the system as an external thing, a sort of machine we can tinker with. Yet systems live within us and are manifest by us; rationally and irrationally. 

Instinctively I always deconstruct the system I’m working in, rationally mapping and strategizing. However, I’ve never really interrogated the system in me, yet it has always been at play. My own invisible hand.

Ask yourself, what comes to mind when you think of the system you work in and the system working in you?

The answer may be a glimpse into your own invisible hand.

Trial & Error

In these newsletters all we’ll do is try to connect a couple dots during my INSEAD journey.  Something that might spark a different perspective in your own work. Comments and questions along the way most welcome. Thank you for joining the journey. Next edition will be later May.

Hungry for more?

  • Immunity to Change a classic that gives “Three Plateaus” in complexity that act as internal systems. 


I’ll be back in Fontainebleau early May. Gothenburg, Toronto, Paris and London before. As well presenting “The Innovation Crisis” at AI Financial Services 2019. Say hi for ☕️.


PS. If you like this newsletter please forward to a friend so we can grow the community. Original post and subscription at Connecting Dots.