What We Provide



Art of the Future has three primary service areas: Life Sustaining Organizations,  Anticipatory Leadership, and Structural Dynamics. To provide high quality services in all three areas, we draw upon our skills and experience in many domains such as strategic planning, scenario analysis, systems thinking, organizational development and apprciative inquiry.  We combine these and other tools and processes in ways that meet the unique needs of each client. 



Areas of Expertise
Domains of Experience

Architectural/Engineering/Construction
Aviation
Chemical / Petrochemical
Consumer Products
Education including Higher Education
Environment / Sustainability
Export Import
Family Business
Financial Services
Government (International, Federal)
Healthcare
Insurance
Manufacturing
Philanthropy
Real Estate Strategy
Reasearch & Development
Service Business (including Consulting)
Technology
Telecommunications


Client Success Stories

Clients

Who we are

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Art + Business Connection














Art of the Future believes that art and design already have a potent impact on organizational performance and that impact will grow exponentially in the years ahead as rapid commoditization of products and global competition for talent places a premium on the unique value that this approach adds.

Creativity, innovation, art  and design have a positive impact on business performance in every aspect of business life: things that include...
    • the work environment, tools and systems, products, packaging, manufacturing and sustainability
as well as intangibles such as....
    • organizational design, management style, policies, procedures, brand management, service delivery, and relationships with customers and others.


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Appreciative Inquiry














Appreciative Inquiry is a process based on the theory that deliberately making positive assumptions about people, organizations and relationships transforms all three.  It celebrates the best in individuals and groups.  The following is paraphrased from A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry by David L. Cooperrider, the creator of the concept, and his colleague, Diana Whitney, at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University...

Appreciative Inquiry is about the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most capable of achievement in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential AI draws on the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design. AI seeks  builds on  constructive insights into past and present capacities: achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, stories, expressions of wisdom, insights into the deeper corporate spirit or soul-- and visions of valued and possible futures. Taking all of these together as a gestalt, AI deliberately, in everything it does, seeks to work from accounts of this “positive change core”—and it assumes that every living system has many untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link the energy of this core directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.

Learn more about our Appreciative Inquiry Workshop.

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Convening the Conversation

The conversation between organizational decision-makers and opinion leaders builds upon initial actions.  No matter how good an initial set of ideas might be, conditions are constantly changing. An organization's  strategic conversation must stay current by monitoring, revisiting, and revising approaches in light of inevitable dynamic evolution.  New technologies, for example, will affect the status quo and sometimes make it obsolete.   Competitor actions and reactions will create the need for continuous assessment.  Once the dialog has been convened, it will establish a forum and a process to anticipate change, prepare appropriate responses, and to be able to implement effective solutions in a timely, effective manner.    In the normal course of daily business, the importance of functions being and staying aligned is often neglected.  We will keep the focus on establishing and maintaining this critical dialog.

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Cultural Dynamics

The composition of the emerging workforce is morphing at hyperspeed. Every day new research and reports demonstrate that the workplace encompasses people from more and more different on the basis of:

  • Race, Ethnicity and Religion
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientations
  • National Origin and Language
  • Social and Economic Class
  • Politics

And this is just the beginning list!

Every organizational culture has its own distinctive perspective on matters such as:

  • Personal freedom, i.e., how much individualism workers can and should express
  • Diversity, i.e., how many different activities the organization ought to engage in and how people, place and technology should be integrated to accomplish those jobs
  • Agreement, i.e., how passionately committed people ought to be to the goals of the organization
  • Commonality, i.e., how much information, knowledge and ways of behaving everyone in the organization should know and share.

Organizational expectations on these topics frequently don’t match up with those held by the individuals and groups who make up the workforce. 

Art of the Futures Cultural Dynamic services make it easier for Anticipatory Leaders to understand cultural dynamics and integrate them into action plans that enjoy wide support.


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Executive Coaching Executive coaching develops leaders capacity to achieve successful implemention of the organization's strategic agenda.

Strategic planning frequently call upon organizational leaders to change the way things have been done in a dramatic way.  Gaining greater insight into the future may demand significant changes, both personally and organizationally. The executive who receives Art of the Future’s coaching has a "teammate" to help him or her to address difficult or unfamiliar situations created with greater confidence, effectiveness, and mastery. Executive coaching creates an intimate connection that provides the person being coached with special strength, insight and wisdom.  An effective executive coaching relationship is a collaborative learning experience that involves openness and reflection on the part of both the client and the coach. 

Art of the Future’s coaching is not psychotherapy.  It is not an analysis of present-day issues through the lens of a person's early developmental experiences or through the evolution of an individual's unconscious. Our coaching focuses on a client's current reality and on organizational goals. It helps people map the social system that they are part of. That analytical/reflective process allows one to understand how one affects a system and how one is, in turn, affected by it. Perhaps most importantly, executive coaching encourages clients to look into what they are doing that might be contributing to any problems they are facing and what they could be doing to approach systemic conditions more effectively. Executive coaching helps them to develop the courage to make stretches outside the "comfort zone."

The successful executive coaching relationship is an adventure: The territory is not strictly defined and the tools that are needed for the journey will have to be discovered or invented along the way by everyone involved. And, as in any good adventure, the executive coaching relationship will be infused with energy, excitement, learning, and, usually, a lot of fun.

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Facilitation

The need for true learning conversations is present across all range of endeavors.  Anticipatory Leaders have to attract the best and most forthright thinking across a range of perspectives.  Community builders need participation from many stakeholder groups.  Workplace strategy requires frank and open discussion across functional lines to integrate the best ideas.

Toward this end, Art of the Future offers both direct facilitation of important conversations and facilitation training. 


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Family Business Dynamics

Over 90% of all American enterprises are family controlled, including something like 40% of the Fortune 1000 corporations. The percentage is even higher in other societies. 

Family businesses have given many Anticipatory Leaders a platform for greatness.  Family businesses have frequently been the birthing grounds for noble experimentation in workplace strategy, great innovative thinking and support for community development.  Family controlled firms are less susceptible to the short term thinking that can plague public firms having to show speculative investors improved profitability every quarter. 

On the other hand, family businesses are often havens for cronyism and unprofessional behavior.  Successful family enterprises must weave together a delicate knitting of diverse interests.  Those who own the business may not have the same economic objectives as those who manage it; and those who manage it may not be aligned with the emotional needs and the traditions of the families affected by the fortunes of the firm.  These matters become especially acute when power is shifting from one generation to the next.

Art of the Future has extensive experience in helping progressive family controlled firms analyze and choose between future options.


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Anticipatory
Leadership Development
Creating a sense of confidence and hope when facing a risky future is one of the key ingredients of Anticipatory Leadership.  The thrust of Structural Dynamics is to develop the competency of individuals, teams and organizations to understand the driving forces shaping the future.  This way of thinking expands the leadership capabilities of anyone or any organization that uses it.

Art of the Future’s executive coaching services make a practical contribution to those who want to become skillful Anticipatory Leaders.  This form of coaching from a systems perspective draws on a range of leadership ideas and practices, such as Lee Bolman and Terry Deal’s “four frames:”
  • Structural - how goals, role, rules and formal organizational relationships can be used to mobilize desired behavior
  • Relational - drawing on the power of interpersonal skills to become a highly credible leader
  • Political - understanding and using the truth that all situations have community aspect and that political and power dynamics exists in all communities
  • Cultural - knowing how to take advantage of the dramaturgic, symbolic, and value-laden features of every situation to shape expectations and performance
Our Systems Thinking workshop contributes to the ability of participants to see the causal connections shaping their environments and our Structural Dynamics workshop demonstrates how to use that insight to map out a comprehensive landscape of future possibilities.

Our approach is tailored to the leader’s and the organization's unique challenges, experience, and aspirations.

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Mental Models Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions that shape our understanding of the world and influence our actions and decisions.  A great deal of highly relevant information lies within the organization at all levels.  We can maximize the full advantage of this knowledge and also identify where assumptions about the future may be limiting full consideration of a wide range of possibilities.

Common wisdom coined the phrase, "What you see is what you get," and it turns out that science is in hearty agreement with this perception. Research validates that we all pay selective attention to the whirling buzzing hum of daily life. And, the more complex and complicated our lives are, the more it is natural to yearn for mental and emotional structures and attitudes that simplify our situation and make it easier to choose between options for action.

Mental models, according to Peter Senge, are our habitual ways of making sense out of the world, i.e., for coding and classifying the data of experience.  It is as though we all have internal theories about the world and how we should operate within it. Usually, these mental models function outside of conscious awareness and consist of a bundle of assumptions, recollections and meaning making activities we don't think about. Frequently, our mental models are highly functional, and there is no reason to inspect them. For example, when we're approaching a red light, we don't have to give much thought to the assumption that the people who have the green light have the right of way and that we should come to a stop.

However, there are plenty of times when our mental models and our mindsets (i.e., consistent points of view that we have about the world and people in it) are either out of date, incomplete or inaccurate in some way. Furthermore, the more ambiguous and complicated reality truly is, the more likely it is that one's mental models will be imperfect or incomplete in a way that obstructs thoughtful and creative problem solving. So, as Marcel Proust said, we often see things not as they are but as we are. We have learned to see situations and people in a particular kind of way that is limited and limiting.

Not paying attention to our own thought processes or having an uncritical point of view about our mental models invites trouble, especially in organizational and social life where it is almost certain that we'll be dealing with people who don't share our own point of view.

For information on Mind Mapping see:

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Organizational Development The Structural Dynamics process is an organization development framework.   Organizations will want to face the future with the strong grounding in facts and analysis that this learning process provides.  However, it can be very challenging to change existing behaviors, ways of thinking and value systems especially when they have led to positive results.  Organization Development is a capacity building process by which organizations become better able to act on the robust strategies that are discovered in a Structural Dynamics initiative.

Art of the Future’s organization development services include:

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Power Dynamics

Organizations of all types must be persistently resilient, creative and innovative as they face pitiless turbulence and rapidly accelerating change in their environments.  However, the power dynamics of organizational life frequently thwart their ability to act and react with sufficient agility.

Every organization and every social system has a power structure.  Some individuals and teams are more influential than others.  Some use their power in ways that make them more rigid, and others use it in ways that make their organizations more nimble. Some organizations incline toward a command and control power structure while others foster distributed leadership.  Too much hierarchy and power politics can result in organizational paralysis.  By using power to build partnership and organizational learning, the prospect of success in today’s hyper-complex environment is vastly increased.

Art of the Future’s workshops and consulting services that focus on power dynamics help Anticipatory Leaders, Community Builders and Workplace Strategists mobilize energies toward the positive power that brings about needed growth rather than preventing it.


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Rapid Ethnography A targeted approach to ethnograhy that accrues much of  the benefit within limited time constraints.  This approach to ethnography was used to conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of technology, particularly the Internet, on work and the work environment.  For a description of this application of rapid ethnography to work and workplace research, see:




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Scanning The process of reviewing a wide range of data sources and talking with visionary thinkers to identify early warning signs in order to tap into forward thinking and emerging trends in the external environment that may impact strategic decisions. .

Objectives of Scanning:

  • To detect important scientific, social, technical, economic, educational and ecological factors, events, interactions and advances
  • Identify the nature and significance of such events as they form patterns and cause & effect structures
  • Determine planning and action choices guided by continuous awareness and evaluation of events
  • Alert key players to trends which are converging, diverging, speeding up, slowing down or dynamically resonating

Emergence of an Issue:






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Scenario
Analysis
One thing is known about the future: It will be very different from what we expect!  This is an era of change and discontinuity in every aspect of life.  Fifteen years ago, virtually no one could have predicted the impact of the Internet on so many aspects of our daily life. So today there are nascent forces at work that will dramatically shape life in the near future that few can discern. Those individuals, teams and organizations that anticipate possible futures and prepare for them have a clear advantage over those who simply react to tomorrow after it's already here.

Scenario Analysis takes a structured approach to testing strategic actions we may take in the present against possible future developments and assessing the outcomes. It is a creative and engrossing way to turn raw information into stories that contain knowledge and demonstrate foresight. Scenario Analysis would help any organization facing:

  • major strategic decisions, e.g., a merger
  • long term planning choices, e.g., new product lines
  • large capital investments in plant, real estate and/or equipment
  • a high level of uncertainty in the business environment  e.g., ambiguities in the regulatory environment
  • tension in an executive team over strategic direction
  • the anxiety people experience when a situation feels chaotic or out-of-control
Scenarios clarify what is within the control of the organization and what is beyond the organizations' direct control. By the end of the process you will understand how to
  • discover key leverage points to influence events
  • recognize critical events as they unfold
  • prepare for both your preferred future and others that are equally plausible
Based on stress tests of strategies in various scenarios, robust strategies can be shown to be effective in a wide range of conditions.  Competitive action and reaction is also modeled to get a true sense of the dynamic impact of taking these actions. Working with key decision makers, Art of the Future collaboratively facilitates the development of a plan that addresses market opportunities and the organization's capabilities in the context of its business environment.

Art of the Future's unique approach to Scenario Analysis is Structural Dynamics.

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Strategic
Planning

Strategic Planning is a catchall term for describing a range of methods used to discover and execute steps that guide the totality of an organization’s behavior. 

Art of the Future concentrates on the imaginative front end of the strategic planning process while providing clients with the insight and information they need to start implementing the action steps that come out of a useful creative process. 

Drawing on the design sensibilities of artistic thinking, Art of the Future’s strategic planning workshops and consultation provide Anticipatory Leaders with a distinctive advantage over others who don’t know how to look as deeply at the forces shaping a competitive environment.


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Structural
Dynamics
Structural Dynamics is a step-by-step process for integrating creativity and analysis to understand the underlying structure driving change in any strategic arena.  The structure of a situation is permanent. Even with highly complex systems, understanding the structure underlying the focus of an analysis highlights leverage points for make effective interventions.   The Structural Dynamics process ignites the imagination and results in the discovery of well-articulated, robust and  compelling strategies.

The graphic below captures the flow of this signature offering from Art of the Future.  It also shows the eight sessions that comprise the Structural Dynamics process.



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Systems
Thinking
Complexity and dynamism can best be understood in the context of a “system.”  A characteristic of any system is that the behavior of each element has an effect on the behavior of the system as a whole. For example, the actions of an individual doctor can affect many elements in the work system within a hospital. The actions of an individual manager can affect many of the sub-units within the operational system of a corporation. The actions of customers can affect many of the other elements in the system that constitutes an “industry”: suppliers of raw materials and components, various manufacturers or solution providers, distribution channels, retailers, the industry association, lobbying groups, and legislative bodies, among others. In short, any system is more than the sum of its parts. 











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Union-
Management Relations

The interests of labor and those of capital are frequently at odds.  Both workers and those who they perform services have legitimate interests, but they are not the same.  Workers are often affected by the decisions of managers and owners whose thinking they exert little control over.  On the other hand, managers and owners want to be able to move quickly to take advantage of opportunities and defend against threats shaping up in organizational environments without being slowed down by working through the interests and concerns of the workforce.  Workers want to know how they will get health care and managers don’t want to be saddled with labor costs competitors don’t pay.  Both camps wield power and both need each other.

Art of the Future has experience in helping Anticipatory Leaders in both management and labor understand the forces driving their differences.  New insights will support a search for pathways toward collaboration and partnership that don’t violate their basic values or ask them to give up their primary objectives.


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Workplace Strategy

Technology, globalization, and lifestyle are impacting how, when and where we work.  People, place, process, and policies must be aligned to optimize performance and to attract and keep key talent.  Beyond the objective of producing desired results, a workplace strategy that results in a life sustaining, rather than a life draining, environment is a worthy end in and of itself.  Increasingly, empowered people are demanding an engaging working environment, and they deserve it.  This trend is ever more pronounced with educated young workers used to very high levels of self-regulation.

Art of the Future can help you determine the right balance for your organization between...

  • thinking and collaborative space
  • shared and dedicated offices
  • centralized and disbursed facilities
  • remote work and physical presence

We can work with you to tailor the work environment to....

  • Support work methods critical to success
  • Communicate culture and values
  • Set investment priorities based on gains in productivity, satisfaction and retention
  • Identify opportunities for greatest impact

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Workshop
Design

There are many occasions where organizations want to hold an event that will anticipate the future and mobilize positive energy. The assumption of organizational leadership by someone with a new vision, addressing some pressing problem such as the need to rebuild an organization after downsizing, or initiating an important conversation about a controversial new strategic direction are all examples of occasions where custom designed conference might make sense. Frequently, there is no pre-existing design for such a meeting, and a powerful experience has to be designed from scratch or put together using existing modules in a new way.

While many of Art of the Future’s existing workshop offering address the needs of Anticipatory Leaders, Community Builders and Workplace Strategists, we can design programs to meet your specifications both drawing upon existing proven design ingredients and inventing new components based on the distinctive needs of the situation.


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