Imagine walking across an empty room. It's easy—no ingenuity required. Now add rampaging honey badgers, flash floods, and Dick Cheney with a shotgun to that empty room. Suddenly, you’ll need serious ingenuity to get across safely. Our world is filled with challenges—but instead of honey badgers, we face even stronger forces. Spiraling healthcare costs. Failing education. Spreading epidemics. Global climate change. Population growth. Deforestation. Water shortages. Peak oil. Pollution. War. Hunger. Poverty.
We face challenges that can seem beyond our ability to solve—problems that converge, intertwine, and shift constantly. We’re surrounded by vast complexity that we don’t fully understand, and our actions have consequences not only for our species, but for the myriad of living things that share this planet with us. Some people say we've released forces beyond our control. Some think we’ll need a miracle to overcome them.
Luckily, we have resilience on our side. The ability to cope with stress and adversity keeps fear and doubt in check, preventing them from squashing our best hope for success: human ingenuity. Think of it this way: Human ingenuity got us into this mess. Human ingenuity can get us out of it.
Bob Richards, aka “the Vaulting Vicar,” gave us this formula for hope:
Ingenuity + courage + work = miracles.
The problem is, there's just not enough ingenuity going on these days. Too many of us think we don’t have what it takes. Somewhere along the way, ingenuity became the provenance of experts. Specialists took over creating new ideas and miraculous inventions. And the rest of us started shuffling our feet, looking embarrassed, and proclaiming that we were not creative when called upon. We started to avoid talking or even thinking about our own inventive capacity. The result? The majority of us dismiss our own ingenuity so thoroughly that it starts to eat away at the edges of our resilience. We turn from the ingenuity we were born with. We shrug our shoulders and dimly hope the experts can solve it all.
When that happens, we lose out on something so much bigger than childlike wonder. We lose all the fearless thinking that could have come from those ingenious human minds, hard at work pumping out new possibilities. All of the wild ideas we might have had—good, bad, and brilliant—come to nothing.
We humans face, not an environmental or social crisis, but a crisis of ingenuity. There’s a gap between our need for breakthrough solutions and our supply. This is the ingenuity gap that keeps us from rising to the challenges we face—and we’d better do something about it, soon, for the good of every living thing on this planet.
The good news is, there’s something we can do about it. There are ways to unlock the ingenuity that’s latent in all of us.
At Future, we use a rapid cycle of design and leadership practices called the Future Blitz. By helping people be bold, get out, think wrong, make stuff, bet small, and move forward, we quickly close the ingenuity gap. By helping leaders fear less, get real, get their game on, and lift everyone up, we help ingenious organizations flourish. And more people in more organizations coming up with more ingenious solutions is what it will take to overcome the daunting challenges facing mankind. Our vision: millions of people across the globe putting their ingenuity to work on today’s social, economic, and ecological challenges. The sooner we get there the better—there's no time to waste.
Future will join Compostmodern 2013 for March 22-23 in San Francisco to explore the theme for the 2 day event: resilience. John Bielenberg, co-founder of Future, will speak on March 22nd, and March 23rd the Future team will join him to lead a blitz. The full day blitz will introduce the cycle of design and leadership practices that can help people, teams, and organizations jump the ingenuity gap. Join us for this fast-paced, hands on introduction to the rapid ingenuity practices that are accelerating positive change in critical social markets, including healthcare, education, housing, human rights, the environment, energy, transportation, and more. How might you enhance resiliency in our world? Come meet us to blitz the answer.\n