Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Mindfulness Meme

Mindfulness is increasingly arriving as an au courant meme to denote a deliberate, relaxed, and enlightened understanding when interacting with the self and others.

Despite occasional blips to the contrary, Steven Pinker (in The Better Angels of Our Nature) seems to be right in citing the overall decline in violence over the centuries of human existence. Even in the shorter term, this is visible in a Google Trends analysis of the keywords 'mindfulness' and 'assault weapons' appearing in news headlines (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Keywords in News Headlines 2005-2012: 
Mindfulness (blue) and Assault Weapons (red) Source: Google Trends

Monday, December 17, 2012

What is your SQ?

There was IQ, then EQ, and now, SQ! SQ – spiritual intelligence quotient – is now a criterion for successful leadership.

In the wake of scientific support for meditation and other mindfulness practices, and as businesses in the social capital movement transitioned to triple bottom lines (adding social and environmental outcomes to the profit motive), so too now the paradigm for successful leadership is changing. Empathy-devoid environments are no longer acceptable.

There is a claim that the successful contemporary leader in any field has the triumvirate of intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, and spiritual intelligence. Part of 'Spirituality 2.0' is the act of transferring quality-of-life attributes from spiritual practice to mainstream application.

The high-SQ leader has self-mastery and behaves with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace, being present in an embodied way, and connecting with others both intellectually and emotionally.

Top 10 traits of high-SQ leaders:
  1. Calm and centered 
  2. Compassionate 
  3. Courageous
  4. Passionately committed 
  5. Forgiving 
  6. Authentic, walks-the-talk 
  7. Humble 
  8. Wise 
  9. Peaceful, nonviolent 
  10. Service-oriented

Monday, December 10, 2012

Application of Complexity Theory: Away from Reductionist Phase Transitions

Reductionism persists as a useful node in the possibility space of understanding and managing the world around us. However the possibility space is now expanding to higher levels of resolution such as a focus on complex systems. Learning and tools are ratcheting in lock-step.

Some of the key complexity-related concepts in understanding collective behavior in real-life physical systems like the burning of a forest fire include:
  • Organization and Self-Organization: Self-orchestration into order in both living and non-living systems, for example: salt crystals, graphene, protein molecules, schools of fish, flocks of birds, bee hives, intelligence and the brain, social structures 
  • Order and Stability of Systems: Measurements of order, stability, and dynamical break-down in systems such as entropy, symmetry (and symmetry-breaking), critical point, phase transition, boundaries, and fractals (101 primer)
  • Tunable Parameters: An element or parameter which doesn’t control the system, but can be tuned to influence the performance of the system (for example, temperature is a tunable parameter in the complex system of water becoming ice) 
  • Perturbation and Reset: How and how quickly systems reset after being perturbed is another interesting aspect of complex systems 
Complexity science is not new as a field. What is new is first, a more congruous conceptual application of complexity thought in the sense of appreciating overall continuum of systems phenomena, not trying to grasp for the specific moment of a phase transition. Exemplar of this more comprehensive systems level thinking is Marcelo Gleiser’s reframe of the Grand Unified Theory problem and Sara Walker’s reframe of the Origins of Life problem. The other aspect that is new is the idea of working in an applied manner with complex systems, particularly with tools that are straightforward to implement like the math tools of non-linear dynamics, networks, chaos, fractals, and power laws (many inspired by the work of Stan Strogatz), and Software Tools like NetLogo, a multi-agent programmable modeling environment and ChucK, a digital audio programming language.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Broadcasting Preference in the Intention Economy

One key dimension of the future is the presence of multiple currencies. A multicurrency society is already starting to develop where traditional monetary-related currencies are being supplemented with other currencies like reputation, attention, intention, ideas, affinity, preference, health, and resource access.

A book published in May 2012, Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge, suggests mechanisms to make intent as a currency more explicit, monetized, and implementable. The book extends the author’s previous ideas about vendor relationship management (VRM), which is how consumers might more effectively manage their relationship with vendors.

The issue is that corporations and other entities spend $1.5 trillion per year on marketing to create ‘a bad model of you’ and your purchasing intent (‘50% of marketing dollars are wasted but we don’t know which 50%’). On the other hand, you as a consumer may have trouble defining your demand, and finding and tailoring products and services in the midst of fending off unwanted publicity and inaccurate personalized advertising.

One potential solution for decreasing friction in the narrowband way that vendors and consumers currently interact is having consumers directly communicate their interests and intent. Intent communication could be accomplished through fourth party exchanges, websites like EmanciPay, where consumers may escrow their intention to buy with a down payment of funds to the site (fourth parties are truly independent intermediaries and advocates for the consumer as opposed to current third parties which are more of an accessory to second parties (e.g.; vendors)). Short of making a financial pledge, many other fourth party sites could accommodate less-defined customer specifications for desired products and services.

The Intention Economy then, is where consumers intentcast (e.g.; broadcast their intent) for products and services, even and especially at inchoate and automated levels, so that vendors can be responsive and continue their expertise in constructing solutions that anticipate consumer demand. Some companies are getting onto this bandwagon, like IBM with their "Chief Executive Customer" program, but like any important change and successful implementation, mindset shifts may be required, and tools must be extremely easy to use – where is Twitter for VRM?!