What do you think the world needs now . . .?

What the world needs now

What do you think the world needs now?

That was the theme of TED Global 2010.

Leadership

I don’t normally bang on about the world needing more leadership.  We are all leaders.  That was the point being made at TED.

But I think the world needs less panic.  Because we are panicking, we are “brushing things under the carpet”.  We do that when we are in a panic, but it really doesn’t help.

But we also, always, have an area of our lives where, for some reason, whatever that is, we are not scared and everyone else is a jibbering wreck.  In this area, on this one thing, we are eerily calm.

We can host the conversation because in that area of our current jumbled-up and precarious existence, where everyone else is frightened, we are not.

What do you think the world needs now?

At last, it’s here! The positive psychology of marketing!

We are perishing for a want of wonder not a want of wonders.

G. K. Chesterton

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Brand Marketing and Brand Management, Ogilivy, speaking at TED.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=audakxABYUc]

For social media types, check 15:30 for the positive psychology value of social media.

Up there in the BEST elevator speeches ever!

“In the next five minutes, my intention is to transform your relationship with sound . . .”

So said Julian Treasure at TED.   This 5 minute video is worth watching . . . for the sake of your health . . . and as a example of a great elevator speech.

In 5 minutes we find out what Julian Treasure can do for us. Oh how we wish we could sum up what do quite so neatly!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRepnhXq33s]

If you are serious about developing your business plan and your pitch, you may find these slides useful from Simon Stockley of Imperial College Business School. I found the slide on the order in which VC’s read business plans particularly useful for understanding what people want to hear when they think about a business.

I want a British TED – and a parallel show for Luddites

I want a British TED

The world is divided it seems – in to those who watch TED and those who don’t.

I watch TED because I like positivity – I like my daily fix. And I admire technological advancement. I wish we had a British TED too – the best of science and technology that is coming out of the UK.

But is my wonder of TED shared?

It seems strange to me, but so many people don’t share my wonder.  They aren’t interested.  They even proclaim themselves proudly as Luddites.

What bothers the Luddites?

Of course, the original Luddites weren’t just disapproving of new technology.  They smashed  the new weaving presses too.

The people around us who claim they are Luddites, simply don’t understand the technology they decry.  But they don’t stop anyone else using it.

They share with the original Luddites, though, a sense of disapproval.  Most of all, the new technology threatens their status.

Should we bother with Luddites?

I am impatient with people who are ‘tight’.   But all fear is genuine – sincerely and acutely felt.   And I am willing to spend time to help people find a positive place in the world.

What I am not willing to do is hold up improvements for others while they have a sulk.  That’s not on the agenda at all.

The general class of bereavement counseling

When we are counseling people who are fretting about change, we are working with a ‘general class’ of issue – bereavement at the highest level, and adjournment at the level of group formation.

Because disdain of new technology belongs to broader, general class of situations, we have the know-how and experience to help people.  We work through three broad steps.

1.  Acknowledge the contribution they made to our welfare and celebrate the skills they used.  We do this fully, sincerely and elaborately.

2.  Focus attention on the opportunities that are opening ahead of us, and new patterns of relationships with new people who are coming into view.  We are concrete & specific and we introduce them, in person, to people who work in the new technologies.

3.  Help individuals, one-by-one, to formulate a personal plan.  We get down & dirty, one person at a time.

I think we should be bothered with Luddites.  If they cannot see how technological change will benefit them, then we haven’t worked hard enough to show them around the new world that it is coming.

Better Reality TV?  TED and the parallel program for Luddites?

I want a British TED, because I like to watch science, and I want to know the best of British science, up and down the land.

I’d also like to see a parallel program that offers respect for the work of people in ‘old technologies’ and welcomes them into a world that we find dear.

Shall we put reality TV and our license fees to good work?

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Recession opportunities: green our offices

The seriousness of the recession is exaggerated and underplayed!

All around us, we hear the doom and gloom of the recession and I think this talk is both exaggerated and underplayed  Indeed, it is exaggerated because it is underplayed.

The economy needs structural change

The economy has not been strained like the plant on my desk that will bounce back with a little water.  The economy has been strained like the continous salad on the window sill that needs to be replaced.

Britain has a long tradition of science

Such stress in the economy would be a disaster if there was no way of replacing it.  But we only have to watch TED talks to know we are on the cusp of major technological changes and though Britain does not contribute as much to the R&D efforts of the world as the US, we are up there and have a long tradition of serious science.

How will technological change open up jobs for you and me?

I am making it my business to look out for the job opportunities of the future and TED once again obliges with a future opportunity that does not require a PhD in science, though it is certainly based on science.

Green offices!

We are going to green our offices to jungle proportions.  Yep, you will work in a thicket and the last thing you will do every night before you go home is wipe the leaves of 10 bushes very carefully!   Once a quarter, you will pop your plants outside and bring in another set!

And for greening your office, you will

  • Save 15% of power and this is pretty important because 40% of the world’s energy is put into airconditioning.
  • You will feel heaps better and be ill less often
  • You will have 42% chance of an increase of 1% oxygen in your blood.
  • You will be 20% more productive.  That’s a lot.

So where is the opportunity?

In plant growing and tending of course!

I wonder how many people who run nurseries have been scribbling figures on the backs of envelopes.

  • How many airconditioned buildings are there in UK?
  • What is the capital cost of equipping the buildings with a new set of plants?
  • What will be the knock-on effect on air-conditioning businesses and power companies?
  • What would be the projected power decrease and how would it be offset by increased fumes as we ship plants across UK on our inefficent road networks?
  • Who else is effected?  Well, HR and productivity specialists are put squarely in their place at a 20% productivity increase!

What other side effects can you think of that I haven’t thought of?

And here are the details for the greening of your office from Kamal Meattle speaking at TED

Areca Palm

  • Co2 to Oxygen
  • 4 Shoulder high plants per person
  • Hydroponics
  • Wipe the leaves daily in Delhi or weekly in less congested place like Milton Keynes
  • Outdoors every 3 to 4 months

Mother-in-law’s Tongue

  • Co2 to Oxygen at night
  • 6-8 waist high plants per person

Money Plant

  • Hydroponics
  • Removes volatile chemicals like formaldehydes

Evidence of the benefits of green offices

  • Tried this green formula in Delhi office
    • 50 000 square feet
    • 20 year old
    • 1200 plants for 300 occupants
  • 42% probability that your blood oxygen goes up 1% when you spend 10 hours in the building
  • Reduced incidence of
    • eye irritation by 52%
    • headaches by 24%
    • respiratory illnesses by 34%
    • lung impairment by 12%
    • asthma by 9%
  • Human productivity increased by 20%
  • Reduction of energy requirements in the building by 15% because of reduced air conditioning
  • Replicating with 1.75 million square feet building with 60 000 plants

Importance of greening offices

  • Demand for energy will grow by 30% in the next 10 years
  • 40% of energy is used by buildings
  • 60% will live in cities with population of more than 1 million people

I must get this together before next winter!

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The ONE big reason why I am not worried about the banking crisis

The banking crisis is bad and a lot worse than most people think.  But I am not worried.  And this is why.  On front after front, scientists and science-based professions are making enormous technological advances.

As I am a British resident, I am interested in this:

Who and where are the top scientists and technologists in UK?

Juan Enriquez talking on science at TED (via YouTube).

UPDATE July 2010:  The science appears to be out there but business seems to be sitting on its hands  . . . or on its cash rather.

Business isn’t moving spare cash from old industries to new.  The failure to allocate capital to new productive industries would be catastrophic at any time.

In the midst of a financial crisis, not funding growth will bury us.  Couple the removal of cash from the economy by business with the austerity measures in Europe and by state governmnents in the US, we have a recipe for  a depression – not a double dip recession – a depression.

It’s time to find businesses that are going somewhere and going somewhere despite impending chaos.  Get behind them.  Put all your skill and connections into making them work.

Reach out and touch an Indian colleague today?

During the week, I prepared a post on HR and the recession.  Turning to it today, I thought I couldn’t post it.  The anguish of colleagues in India and the thoughtful and dignified ways they are responding to events in Mumbai are model enough for us all.

Reach out and touch an Indian colleague today?

Suggested links:

In Bangalore

Acorn

Shahidul

UPDATE:  TED India lectures are coming out.  They are a wonderful way to sense the strength and dignity of Indian.

3 essential steps to become a positive psychologist

So, I am a psychologist, but how can I become a positive psychologist?

I have found three essential competencies that I need to master in addition to my conventional training.  Can you think of any more?

New maths

1.  I need to be able to think in terms of fractals.   To be more concrete, I need to think of phenomena at three levels.

  • A clutch of relevant dimensions that are interdependent (a recursive model, that is).  So I am happy when the world is good to me and the world is good to me when I am happy.
  • Phenomena that are phase states.  So I am thriving when I am happy about good things and sad about bad things and move appropriately between the emotive states.   I am sort of coping when my state varies but it is limited.  I am definitely not flourishing when my mood is consistently positive or negative no matter what happens around me.
  • The benefits of the phase states are phrased at a different level of analysis, such as prosperity and longevity, and are expressed as mean differences rather than a direct linear effect.

Narratives

2.  Out goes the lab report, though I need it for some things, and in comes the story.  Can I tell a story about who does what, to what, and why?  Can I recount stories that reflect my vulnerability?  Can I create situations which respect the voice of others?

After a life time of “science” I find myself learning the art of story telling.  We have great role models in TED and fortunately great coaches such as Cliff Atkinson are stepping up on the business front.

Personal experience

3.  Have I applied positive techniques to my own life and do I approach situations appreciatively as reflexively as I looked for objectivity in my conventional training?

Am I able to take part in the mutual environment of action research or do I have to hide behind a facade of objectivity?

Any more?  I think positive psychology is going to take us on an interesting journey of professional transformation.

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A big crunch and a big bang

I managed Newtonian physics OK, the stuff you do in high school, but I gave it up before I got to quantum mechanics. I rather suspect that is the same for most psychologists. Around us, our understanding of the world is changing and I wonder whether psychology is keeping up.

Neil Turok, of Cambridge University, won a TED prize this week for his work in mathematical physics and his parallel work setting up the Africa Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Cape Town. Neil was born in South Africa and grew up in exile (is that fair) in East Africa and the UK. So I am motivated to ‘have a go’ and see how much I understand of what he has to say and how it relates to us.

The beginning

Most of us have heard of the big bang. But the problem with the big bang is, what happened before the big bang. Where did the big bang come from?

No beginning

The new theory is that big bangs happen cyclically. They come and go like growth and contraction in an economy. And the big bang is the good part, the part where we expand and be different.

Big bangs are preceded by big crunches, the part signally the end of a phase of contraction in the universe.

Our beginning

So how does this affect us? Is a big crunch imminent? Not as far as I know. As I understand it, we are living in phase when things will go on much as we know them, at least in the grand order of things.

But we may think differently perhaps about our own lives.

A cyclical view of the world considers it quite normal to have good stages in life and bad. To have seasons which are not associated simply with good when you are young and bad when your are old. Bad necessarily precedes good and is therefore one and the same thing. If you want to know how new that idea is in the west, try writing it down in your own words and citing movies and books that illustrate the idea.

A cyclical view of the world suggests that there are many possible futures. We know that. But in psychology we have been trained to predict, in a Newtonian way. If we have these conditions at this time, that is NOW, then this will happen in a few minutes, in an hour, or NEXT. We’ve predicated a whole industry on making these predictions, and possibly a second on promising the world we make them a lot better than we do.

That we have many possible futures means that from HERE and NOW, there are many different routes that we can follow to many different places. Yes, says the classically trained psychologist, but to which one and which one is ‘best’.

To exploit the new model, we don’t ask that question. We ask what are the routes we can follow. Lets just write down the possible routes. Let’s just do that task of showing all the possible ways forward.