Issue #40: Happy Holidays

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” – Hamilton Wright Mabie

Hi everyone, I hope that you're staying safe and healthy. I missed my typical Thursday publishing deadline last week amid exhaustion from intense end-of-year work and a serious health challenge that's come up in my family, commanding much of my emotional energy and attention. That said, I’ve been thinking about a couple of items related to the future of belonging.

During a conversation I had with a good friend last Monday about futures thinking, our conversation turned to how so much work involving takes place either within a specific project or within a corporation, leaving out “real life” We began wondering what does dinner table futures thinking look like? Meaning, how can you as a reader explore futures thinking within your own household or any other small, intimate circles that you belong to so that you can bring more futures thinking into those spaces? How can anticipating the future have an impact at the individual and interpersonal level and influence our personal intimate lives?

So, I’d like to share what my friend and I discussed as an draft working plan. Our version of dinner table futures will involve our close group of college friends, which I have mentioned in this newsletter before: Bestie Row. And in true Art of Gathering forum, we’ve clearly identified the purpose of our gathering: to reflect on the trajectory of our friendship and discuss what we would like our friendship may look like and feel like over the next 10 to 15 years.

This gathering will acknowledge our past while honoring the strife, struggle, and successes that all of us lived through in 2020. This year marks 18 years of friendship, which is roughly half of our lives. One friend had her daughter which is her second child and another friend remarried. We’ve also learned new things about ourselves and each other that I hope we can carry forward through co-creating some provisional visions of our friendship being and doing and feeling over the next 10 to 15 years.

I hope this reflection will deepen our friendship even more as well as preparing us for the changes and disruptions that may lie ahead so that we can not only be better friends, but also better daughters, parents, leaders, and community members. I hope this serves as inspiration for you.

Please share what you come up with as your approach to dinner table futures and what that means for you and what that looks like in your life.


Secondly, I wanted to share a bit of what I've been thinking about, in light of both parts of my interview with Corey over the last couple of weeks, and our recent meetup. Because of the pandemic and the lockdowns, many of us have had more space and time to connect with people who are asking many of the same questions. We’ve pushed the boundaries and constraints of our notions of normalcy, as, and by extension, our collective imagination of what the world could look and feel like. And at last week's meetup, we were able to dive deeply into the history of belonging at work.

We identified moments of change in history that were serious points of acceleration for much of the dysfunction and exclusion that we see today. Crises such as wars, disease, economic recession, and all sorts of tragedies, panic and emergencies have created amazing openings to really affect a great deal of change for a large number of people. The future implications of this history demonstrate that the nature of work itself is changing as the purposes of organizations and networks where work occurs shift. This pandemic is no exception.

Our small group collectively decided that we want to make the most of this expanded time and space to endeavor together in building transformational visions of the future of work in which belonging is much more expansive than what we experience today. As a futurist I’m overjoyed. As a recovering perfectionist, I’m terrified as I’ve never led a research project like that before: completely volunteer, asynchronous, and decentralized. But if I’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that much of what we thought was impossible is quite the opposite.

Specifically, this group really wanted to develop scenarios, noting the power of narrative and world building in introducing new stories outside of our official futures of a technocentric future of work that centers on tools, tech and tasks. Rather, these scenarios will focus on the human values, needs, experiences and impacts of work on belonging. With these scenarios, we hope to push ourselves to re-imagine both the purpose, nature and the expected outcomes of work. We want belonging to occupy more narrative space, and envision a world in which work is driven by the needs of people. I’ve outlined a draft process to build these scenarios along with a set of companion artifacts.

Please add comments, questions, edits and suggestions. I’m excited to see what we can imagine and build together.

This will be the last issue of 2020 as I take time off to relax and spend more virtual time with family. I’m thankful for each of you for coming on this journey of learning together. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


Upcoming Events

SAVE THE DATE. Our yet-to-be-named scenario series will kick off the week of January 11.

I’ll be speaking about how my writing process has evolved in this crazy year at Substack’s writers’ conference, Substack On!, on January 8, 2021 . You can get mor info + registration details at https://substack.com/on.