“Embrace the present and invent the future,”

Karl Lagerfeld Chanel


“Questions are what matters. Questions, and discovering the right ones, are the key to staying on course. The wave of information threatens to obscure strategy, to drown out details and numbers, calculation and analysis, reaction and tactics. To have strong tactics we must have strong strategy on one side and accurate calculation on the other. Both require seeing onto the future.”

Gary Kasparov


This is about technology and intentionally shaping the future we desire and, peripherally, about business.

Where we are.

Human-ness: what it meant to be human and how to intentionally be human. It didn’t start with technology, but then again it did. Technology has introduced all the distractions necessary to forget we are human. To be clear. This is different than a ‘different than when I was growing up’ discussion (past), this is a discussion about our future and our intentions with regard to being human – individually, societally and in business. The debate, the discussion, should ignore the definitions of technology and focus on the definitions of humans – not generational mumbo jumbo – because there is no contrast between generations (in any meaningful way), the contrast resides in the liminal space we currently stand in – standing between the definition of who and what we want our future to be and a future, as yet, to be defined. Clearly there is room for improvement in how we engage with technology and even in the technology itself, but the expectations of the future should not reside in some fantastical technology, but instead the fantastic visions for people and what they will be defined by. Think about that because although we have a nasty tendency to view society and institutions as an array of products and services to ensure people succeed, the truth is that people will succeed with, or without, technology. That means to view technology as having an important role it should be viewed as integrating into the human experience for who and what they want to be – not manipulated by some technology trying to convince them what to think and who to be. This also means just as our notion of technology needs to be expanded, our notion of people needs to be re-explored, re-instated and reimagined. I imagine I am suggesting some version of a future in which it is a Learning Future where technology is simply learning systems undergirding learning people. Regardless. Intentions. Intentions matter if we desire an intentional future, rather than some future we adapt to, we need a vision for humanness.

Again. This discussion didn’t start with technology and, yet, it did. Technology has forced us, and is forcing us, to think more about being human than ever before. That, I imagine, means technology has forced us to state our intentions for the future.

Technology as an enabler for humans.

The reality is very few of us care about technology itself, we care about what it enables. Technology, wherever it resides (in hand, on desk, in lap, in car) are just tools to get things done (and ‘done’ can be answering questions and learning). Technology represents the means, not the desired outcomes. Technology is just a tool like all tools, if used properly it is effective, if it used improperly, it simply becomes an obstacle to attain some objective. What that really means is before we develop any technology, or technology plans, it would behoove us to articulate some unambiguous vision of what we desire in order to create the framework within which that technology can effectively enable. Let me be clear. This means technology does not lead, it follows and supports. This also means neither the availability nor the adoption of technology, its applications or construct, does not change the responsibility nor the overall focus of the business – we should be attempting to attain the same vision whether the technology is adopted or not. yes. What I mean is that technology adoption should not decrease the likelihood of attaining a vision. This also means technology must be relevant and connected to the vision, the strategy, the objective and the humans (and humanity). Ponder that thought.

Human-centric technology world.

Which leads me to the idea of human-centric and a human-centric Future. In November 2018, prior to the pandemic, I approached the Georgia Tech School of Human Design with a conference idea – The Humancentric Organization – in which speakers** would talk about technology through the eyes of creating learning organizations. In other words, human centric organizations enabled by technology:


It’s an exciting time to be a person in a technology world because it is all about Humans.

I’m convinced that ordinary people have more power in their hands to shape the world, including the future, than ever before. They just don’t know it because they keep getting told it will be a robot, automation, AI/Machine Learning world. The truth is technological progress is dependent upon people, conversations and thinking (morally & behaviorally). It’s clear that Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Biotech and any number of other technology-based innovations are set to impact society with consequences we can only imagine. This represents significant opportunities for people who recognize it will be a Human-centric future.

** note: the speakers who I had asked and expressed interest in being involved included Grady Booch, Mike Walsh, Dr. Jason Fox, Dr. Leda Glyptis, Teodora Petkova, Faris Yakob, Lisa Gill, Zach Mercurio and several others. All portray the goodness of human beings when given the opportunity to do good. I thought it would be interesting to have Mike Walsh, an unabashed futurist, and Grady Booch, one of the forefathers of software, together. Grady, in particular, portrays the goodness of technology when given the opportunity. He is the conscious of technology. He, above all, see humans create. He, above all, sees the integrity within the invisible, the black box of technology, which 90% of people will never understand and therefore are dependent upon the 10% accepting the burden of responsibility.

The human centric future, to me, will see a world in which:

    • Technology will thrive or die depending on humans, not the opposite.

    • The world, business & society, will thrive or die depending on humans, not technology.

We must keep an unwavering focus on humanness because as technology improves (as it will do) there will be a tendency to turn our focus more sharply toward seeing technology as the solution to, well, everything in the future. But this belief should give us some pause. If we focus too much on technology, we lose sight of the true purpose of technology which is to facilitate learning and improve the situation for humans.  I know I could argue whatever example someone comes up with that the future solutions should be created with same care and expectations as traditional effective solutions. Why? Because everything will still revolve around humans – an individual doing and thinking things interacting with other humans who are doing and thinking things. This is where complexity does come into play. We often, even with technology, think of our solutions in a one-dimensional way. The solutions, particularly if interested in creating a learning revolution, shouldn’t simply be based on convenience and simplicity but rather challenged and challenging. There will have to be a multi-dimensionality to the future – a complex one. I guess what I am suggesting is the we should not diminish the need for traditional principles like engagement, interaction and critical thinking but rather the strategic objective should have the intention to create some additional depth and dimensions to these principles.

A learning revolution.

Technology is first and foremost used for educational purposes. Now. We can debate the definition of education (beyond the institutional aspects), but for the most part people interact with technology to learn and do. [ponder.  This makes technology a transformation tool, but to what? There is certainly a role for undirected education/learning but inevitably if we seek to have a better system, the system should have an identified strategic objective. Far too often we make technology benefit into some simplistic ‘convenience’ tool. Why shouldn’t we expect technology to enable a learning revolution? This will demand a different type of leadership – one that is not passive but rather one that leads a revolution into the future. Since the preservation of the status quo tends to be equated with either protecting traditional values or principles, most leaders have learned (from experience) that ensuring a transformation unfolds slowly permits them the luxury of maintaining positions of power longer. A learning revolution demands a new type of leadership one that is active, enlightened and engaged. Any revolution is part push and part pull but technology offers a new dynamic environment in which opportunities can be exploited, in pursuit of a grander vision or strategic objective, if one is willing to actively engage with them. I have said this before but this new type of leadership is not about charisma, but rather about framing and thinking conceptually. The revolution only occurs if someone can frame the issues in terms that are directly relevant to the communities. The concepts are framed in a way that are easily articulated, understood and assimilated into individual (and collective) objectives. This is a bit grander than alignment (although alignment is certainly a key aspects) but rather it is about finding the coherence necessary for energy gravity grabs hold to increase progress.

Part of this progress, within a learning revolution mindset, is an understanding one cannot study something to death. Emergence demands some resolve to understand and take advantage of trends, opportunities and learning I general. Evidence gathering needs to be effective AND efficient wherein the mechanism neither slows nor delays yet offers up enough guidance to insure movement toward the vision and objective rather than away. This gets tricky with technology for 3 reasons:

    • Technology software is designed and consequences can run away faster than humans can actually assimilate. This is a Norbert Wiener concept.

Design carefully.

    • Technology is often the biggest contributor to ‘over-evidence-seeking’, big data and overwhelming amounts of information, and it must instead become a balancer to a culture of proper situational evidence – seeking not certainty, but rather probabilities.

    • Technology embeds some human bias/beliefs/convictions. What I mean by that is institutions, believing they are uniquely unique, put an overemphasis on what they perceive to be their uniqueness blinding decisionmakers, and learners, to realities which could actually improve their situation if not their learning (which is the first step to improving their future situation).


“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”

Sir Winston Churchill

Uneven progress.

Now. Understanding that technology in and of itself is significantly different than effective use of technology is the first step to achieving the future system we desire.  Technology, when implemented, will have an impact and an uneven one. As a result of these impacts a new set of rules, roles, relationships and behaviors will emerge. This emergence will recast any business, as an institution, in a new shape – one of which was not designed by someone upfront. The business model, as an unchanging institutional environment, no longer exists. In fact, the new business enterprise has little in terms of boundary constraints (even in expectations), but rather will reshape itself relying on dynamic, interrelated networks to enable the examination of arising issues within timeframes, some compressed some elongated, under which the system itself operates. In other words, people will change without any ‘transformational plan of action’ or ‘change management’, but rather through simple continuous iteration through interaction with each other and the marketplace/society/community.

And maybe this is where I touch on Purpose a bit because I envision someone saying to themselves “well, if the organization/person has a Purpose, that would probably resolve all future concerns of too much unevenness.” 

I believe individuals can have a Purpose and, in fact, if tap into Purpose are happier, healthier and more productive. I do not believe Business has a Purpose in the sense purpose is typically discussed.  I don’t believe ‘shareholder value’ is a Purpose, it is simply an objective (which creates systems in the business to achieve). I believe business has intentions. These intentions can get masked by visions or missions, both of the which can play valuable roles, but I believe a business should lay out its intentions – all of them.

An intent to contribute to the environment.

An intent to act with integrity every day.

An intent to engage with community.

Things like that (and there should be no limits to # of intentions).

Within these intentions the people IN the organization have a variety of paths they can choose to walk on – and clearly see where paths do not lie. I hesitate to call these principles because, well, they seem simply like intentions. With intentions understood a business can have a community of people interested in working coherently (some people may call this culture) and pursue quests to fulfill those intentions. Intentions put some boundaries on the unevenness while actually encouraging unevenness which increases velocity toward some vision. Intentions put some boundaries on technology.

“Community is the fact that we work toward the same goal, that we accept our respective roles in order to reach it.  Values is the fact we trust each other. And, culture?   Culture is as much about what we encourage as what we actually permit. That matters because most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

Fredrick Backman

Intrinsic energy.

In having intentions and pursuing quests the business rely less on not having to tell people what they cannot get away with and encourage them more to go do what they can do. People gain knowledge, get better at whatever they do (and how they think), there is continuous improvement, progress is achieved (for the individual and the business), quests are pursued and everyone feels a sense of meaning in having contributed. Technology is simply a means to help achieve these outcomes.

Positive progress.

I have always believed we do a disservice to 90% of people by scaring them with disruption, revolutions and robots/automation stealing their jobs. I gravitate to people who make the pragmatic exciting. I gravitate to people who articulate change in ways people don’t distrust it, but instead are open-minded. I gravitate to people who don’t spew bullshit to sound intellectual, but rather see smartness in communicating in ways people can understand. The world, to me, is careening between technology-based fantastical hollow promises and dystopian technology hyperbole. I think we do a disservice to people by suggesting some piece of technology is more meaningful than a human being. I think we do a disservice to any person doing any job that they cannot find meaning in what they currently do therefore they should be happy some algorithm or robot can do it for them.  I believe we should put a stake in the ground for understandable positive human progress in an increasingly technological world. Progress, with or without technology, should be positive for humans and humanity.


I have always believed most futuristic discussions have done disservice to people in its “one-offness” or one-dimensional discussions. I believe we would benefit in presenting the future in an intentional integrated way – a system in totality. Software engineering, how people think, organizational structure, media & culture, power of individual purpose, how we speak thru technology. I believe if showcase humans at the center of the future in an integrated way we can show people that people are the thread to the future, not technology. Show people that if we are empowered to think and do, we will think and do. Show people the system is them and they are the system.

Human Future view.

I am tired of digital transformation, artificial intelligence and even customer-centric. The future is about human transformation, human intelligence and being human-centric. This can be practical business principles or larger societal issues, but at the center of all that will be done, what will be created, will occur thru humans talking with humans and humans creating things. That should be our strategic imperative for future intentions. Period.

Humans should tinker with the future, not technology, and they should do so intentionally.

In the end.

Intentions matter. What I mean by that is if we do not embrace a human centric world, intentionally, technology will be increasingly less likely to (a) be optimally effective and (b) optimally useful to the betterment of humans. Establishing the future is not about technology. It is about humans, society, culture and institutional tradition. The decisions for our future are both top down and bottom up, simultaneously, in which vision and pragmatism are aligned (and resources are equitably dispersed).

I would note that when goals and objectives are not reached, it has little to do with technology, but has a lot to do with people. This future system will not be the result of incremental change but rather of a strategic decision and structural mental models. The strategic decision, stating the intentions, permits the system to emerge rather than be driven by external forces and we inevitably find ourselves in a system in which human-ness thrives.


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Written by Bruce