Author Archives: Hivernité

We Need Intent-Based Education

Category : Society 5.0

I wrote this article as a follow up to a very short exchange on Linkedin with Dr. Tassos Anastasiades, head of the Edubridge International School. That long an answer to so short a conversation is probably why I’m not invited at parties more often.

For the longest time, the education system worked fine for the needs of the business world. The business as a well-oiled machine metaphor made sure employers were looking for people able to execute orders and little else. Creativity, questioning, and exploration were the prerogatives of a handful of innovators. For the rest of the workforce, those traits were more trouble than they were worth.

But that’s not the case anymore. In today’s world, we need people who can tap into their full potential. We need people who will transform and adapt the way we work, explore the world, and organize so we, as a society, can face the challenges ahead. For that, we need students who can think for themselves, who can explore solutions, make and learn from mistakes, and who will joyfully jump at the chance to tackle a good challenge.

While many education professionals spearhead innovative approaches to learning, we must admit that for the most part, our current system still relies on outdated ideas. We have knowledge info-dumps meant to be learned by heart, followed by a grade that either reward or punish the student. This isn’t working for what we need to prepare our society for the future that’s arguably already here.

We need Intent-based Education (IBE): an education system where teachers set the intention as well as a few goals, and where students will explore their way there. It’s not about pre-defined truths, but about the journey through a diversity of knowledge to reach a goal.

This idea isn’t new. You can find echoes of this in George Couros’ The Innovator Mindset, a practical approach targeted at classrooms. I myself used IBE as a consultant and trainer in organizational design, where I helped my clients design the structure and processes that made the most sense for their industry and companies.

I took inspiration from L. David Marquet’s intent-based leadership, as described in his book Turn the ship around. It is one of the most essential books in leadership and business you can find, period. In a (tiny) nutshell, as a leader, state the intent and then let your crew of professional find the best way to take you there. There’s more to it. Read the book. There are a few videos on YouTube too if you want a taste before jumping on the book.

Once they graduated, students of intent-based education systems will be well equipped to face our future. Their mindset of exploration and experimentation will make them constant innovators, stimulated by new ideas. Fast and nimble companies will be built of this type of employees. In older, slower companies, they will bring with them the germ of a more modern attitude.

As we enter the age of AI, drastic changes will come to the workplace. The adaptability gained through IBE will help workers reinvent themselves and stay one step ahead of automation. To be able to compete on creativity, lateral thinking, passion, curiosity, and empathy, AI technology will need to evolve beyond narrow-type AI to a general-type AI. This kind of technological shift will not happen tomorrow.

This model isn’t difficult to learn nor costly to put in place, requiring no special tools, physical space, or technology. Its benefits will impact the entirety of our society.

IBE in a nutshell

InIntent-based education is project-driven and uses a small set of techniques to help students explore and make their own way through the subject matter. It is a practical way to learn.

The teachers amongst you will undoubtedly note that most, if not all, of the techniques described here and below are already used in classes. That’s entirely true, and they are because of they work. The goal of intent-based education isn’t to reinvent the wheel, but to organize all of those tidbits of awesomeness into a cohesive model, and ditch what doesn’t add value.

The team vs. the individual

The IBE model aims to grow each student so they can be well-equipped to face a world in rapid, constant evolution. But in a classroom, teachers rarely have the necessary bandwidth to provide every student with the level of care they need. The answer? We enlist the help of every student.

IBE lighten the load put on the teachers’ shoulders by organizing students in teams. Teams works together, do research and experiments as a group, and must develop strategies to reach the goal. The discussion around those is a vital part of the learning process. Students are encouraged to help each other grow and learn, as it makes the entire team’s progress that much easier and faster. Continuous improvement is supported by teacher-guided but student-led retrospective sessions, aimed at course learning contextualization. These sessions also offer course correction for both the team and individual members.

The entire classroom gets involved in the process. Each team must regularly present their results to the class. They explain their strategies, experiments, successes, and failures. Both the class and the teacher recommends further work on specific things, from academic subjects to techniques used.

We’ll see a bit more about that below.

Setting goals

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

IBE is project-driven, using a clear set of goals, a specified intent for the task, and a set of constraints to help guide the students. Keep in mind that different teams can have different goals and constraints for their projects, but try to keep the intent similar for all as a theme for the work of the entire classroom. It will ease learning at the time of the presentations.

The concept of SMART goals is well known and used in the business world to a significant effect. Tons of literature about them are available through a simple web search. The acronym SMART means:

Specific: The conditions for success should be clear and actionable. Students should correctly understand what is expected of them.

Measurable: Use metrics and/or milestones to monitor progress and accuracy toward the goal. The students should themselves be able to measure their progress toward the goals using those metrics.

Achievable: Never set up your students for failure. Every goal should be achievable. If your students don’t believe those goals are achievable, then they should be able to challenge them. That discussion would be a great learning moment.

Relevant: Teachers have their own goals as to which academic subjects they need to inculcate to the students. The goals should represent that, and the student should be aware of what they are intended to learn.

Time-bound: How long will be the project lasts? When are the milestones due? Shorter projects are better than longer ones, as procrastination can’t be an option.

According to the theory of constraints, a handful of carefully-selected constraints improves focus and creativity. It’s up to the teachers to establish boundaries for the sandbox the students will work in. They can include some choice constraints to force the students just outside of their comfort zone. “I need a complete mathematical proof,” “You can only use the local library, no internet” or “I want to present your arguments with a counter argument built from the writing of these two authors” are prime examples of constraints.

Those constraints can vary from one team to the next. Some students need help to keep focus. Others will enjoy a bit of extra challenge. Simple constraints are an easy way to personalize learning.

Exploratory progress

In IBE, there is not one specific answer to any challenge or project. Students should be looking to find the “right way” but to explore various paths to the goals.

We see failure as a learning tool. Students are encouraged to build their experiments to either succeed or fail fast, so they can learn and move on to the next experiment. The only way to truly fail in this model is either by not trying at all or by refusing to learn anything from the process. A context of safety is required for students to learn from their failure. In this regard, a teacher has two roles. The first one is to make sure students don’t waste too much time chasing shadows. The second is helping them draw the most learning from any failure.

The constraints should keep them on track most of the time, but not railroad them. Creativity is desirable and expects some solution to be completely unexpected.

A few core techniques

Rather than an extensive pre-determined curriculum, intent-based education is more flexible and rely on a few core techniques that will allow students to explore and experiment.

Working as a team is nowadays a requirement for an increasingly large number of jobs. Yet, there is far more to efficient teamwork than just asking a group of people to work together. It has to be learned. It is, however, nearly impossible to learn teamwork properly when you are evaluated, rewarded, or punished on an individual level. School is the best place to learn real teamwork.

Doing research should be a core skill for anyone living in our society, where most specific information is readily available when you know how to search for it. Efficient research frees us from having to learn too much specific information that will probably be outdated within months. Critical thinking in analyzing researched information must be part of the research skill set.

Experiments are core to the model, and I find it one of the best way to learn. In order to learn, intent-driven students must try stuff. Small, controlled experiments are the way to go, as they allow to try out practically anything without much risks. Theses low-risks experiments are defined in goal, very limited in both time and budget, and meant to generate more information than a simple binary answer. I teach this technique to adults to be used in the workplace and as part of an innovation strategy, so I can attest it will benefit students all their lives.

Narrative-driven presentations tap on the human superpower of storytellingto frame data and experience into a relatable and entertaining format. The days of the boring Excel presentation filled with dry facts are gone, and students need to learn to captivate audiences. Luckily, the nature of IBE is to focus on the journey and not just the end, meaning that student will have tales of experiments gone awry, wild-goose chases and sudden realizations to liven up whatever information they had to deliver.

Evaluating ourselves and others is something we have to do our entire lives. It is a crucial part of learning critical thinking. The evaluation here isn’t based on grading, but instead takes the form of a constructive discussion aimed at continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement is key always to adapt and grow, regardless of the situation we’re in. Building a fixed mindset or process for ourselves can only ensure where become hopelessly outclassed over time. IBE’s design focus on the journey, open-mindedness, and constructive criticism. Its goal is to make continuous improvement second nature for students.

Monitoring and guidance

The role of the teacher changes a lot in this model. Once the student teams are sent on their path, what is left to do (so to speak) is monitoring and guidance.

Monitoring simply means that the teacher keeps on eye on the progress, roadblocks, and learning of the students, while also goading them toward more experimentation, pushing their limits and taking a few risks. It could be done through a weekly 30-minute review per team taking the form of a guided discussion. That discussion needs to be structured to cover the important bits, as well as include some free-form moments to make unconscious challenges or patterns of the students emerge.

Based on that review, in the coming weeks, the teacher can guide the student toward unexplored paths, new, or mentor them through a difficult roadblock. By doing so, the teacher becomes both a coach and sometimes a mentor to the teams, allowing them to reach beyond their own perceived limits.

Often, the teacher will stumble upon good teachable moments and bring the class together so that everyone can be exposed to it and benefit from it. Those teachable moments can include passing information, and/or crowdsource the solution to a roadblock to the entire class.

Final review and retrospective

Grading sucks. After all these years, I’m still unsure if the goal of grading is to test your memory, your state of mind on the day of the exam, or your discipline in managing your time doing your research paper. Officially, it’s none of these things. Practically, I don’t think it tests those things well either.

Grading is a way to compare students, turning a personal and communal journey to education into a pointless competition where what matters the most is how you performed compared to a bunch of other students. What’s the value in that? At a more fundamental level, what’s the need or even purpose of it?

Since intent-based education features actual exploratory journeys through facts, experiments, and exchange of thoughts, what matters the most is:

1) What they learned during the entire journey (successes and failures are essential)

2) How they applied all that knowledge and turned it into a concrete solution

3) How they can communicate their experience with others

4) How they can evaluate the experience of others, and add it to their own journey

The benefit of basing the model around concrete projects defined by a clear intention, some goals, a set of constraints, is that students will explore different ways to achieve the goals while keeping in mind what they are supposed to learn. Along the way, they’ll learn and experience a lot more than what was stated, and it is this comprehensive journey that will be the real teacher.

Evaluations must evolve to represent that. Having the right, rote answers is irrelevant. In fact, as there are many ways to achieve success, there are many interpretations of the results possible. Rather than relying on grades, the point of an assessment is to find the most appropriate way to help the student grow further, based on the four criteria mentioned above. The follow-up to such assessment could include additional help on one of the criteria while asking the student to act as a mentor to a classmate for another criterion.

At the end of the project, students present what they’ve done and learned. Not just the result, but the entire journey with its successes and failures. Not just what they were intended to learn, but all the lessons and wisdom they acquired along the way. They present, no, share their experience to the entire class. They have to not only report on results but pass knowledge and wisdom to others.

This looks a bit like the review and retrospective sessions we find in the business world with Agile models. The goal is to present progress and then work on everyone’s continuous improvement by discussing what works, what doesn’t, and what we should aim to improve for next time. Of course, continuous improvement is something that must be done continuously, not just in sessions, but those sessions are always a great time to absorb the journey of others and gain different perspectives.

This means that gradation should be done in large part by students. Not only the knowledge acquired and results achieved, but the capacity to properly pass on the wisdom they gained. Yes, people will be evaluated on their ability to frame information as a story. Storytelling is how humans build advanced social networks and civic structures, created science and religion, developed a sense of who we are in the grand scheme of things. It’s one of the most important skill of all humanity as well as the best way to communicate in any context.

I know this approach is already used in some classrooms. I’ve experienced something akin to it a few times myself. I believe that with the rest of the model, the benefits from this practice will be magnified compared to what can be had today.

Benefits for students

Students are the first beneficiaries of an intent-based education. Not only it will give them the knowledge they need to survive, but also the right tools to thrive in an increasingly uncertain world.

More options in life than ever before

We live in a great era, where we have far more options opened to us than ever before. Yet, our education model pushes us toward increasing specialization. The direct effect is that graduating students end up with lessoptions than with more general education or a broader outlook.

With an intent-based education, students will naturally widen their horizons. They gain an array of expertise at different levels, coupled with the right skills to dig deeper and combine them as needed. This capacity for learning and adaptation will open many more fields to them, and ease jumping from field to field.

Theses day, in the gig economy, people change jobs more often than before. This situation is not about to change — quite the contrary. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, work fields where human are competitive are going to shift, and continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The versatility granted by an intent-based education will make it all the easier for them to always find employment where they can bring value.

Development of a strong agency

Agency, the ability for individuals to make their own choices and act on their environment, is a cornerstone of who we are. Deprived of it, we lose our drive, just like an animal in a cage for too long.

And yet, as essential as agency is for our mental health, we have built entire systems around us designed to curb our agency as much as possible. We build hierarchies and representative systems, where other people will use their agency on our behalf. Worse, we created bureaucracy: sets of pre-defined decisions enshrined in rules that are meant to be followed blindly rather than challenged or adapted. Bureaucracy commits three cardinal sins: it deprives us of our agency, yes, but it also fixes itself by creating more bureaucracy and produces loads of work without an associated value.

Living in those conditions is devastating for people. The number of depressions and burnouts in the workplace is on the rise, year after year. It’s unsurprising when we learn that 60% of workers do not feel engaged, and 15% feel actively disengaged, according to Canada Human Ressources Center.

People with a strong sense of agency and an education that has shown them in a practical way that they don’t have to settle for a life where they are deprived of it can hopefully fare better. The combination of agency and the right skills can also improve the chances that they will be able to do something to change that system. They can do that by evolving their environment or workplace, or by creating new types of workplace and social structures for people like themselves.

More than just their mental health, people engaged with life (work life or otherwise) are more dynamic, try more things, and are generally happier. Being successful starts with a state of mind, one filled with engagement and agency.

Development of strong lateral thinking and creativity

Lateral thinking and creativity, along with systematic exploration, are the keys to both innovation and original art.

It starts young. Expose kids to a large number of subjects, let them explore on their own with a bit of guidance, and help them combines widely different disciplines in projects (like making a musical sculpture based on a poem and incorporating architectural elements). There is very little wrongin whatever they will do, only different and often surprising new shades of right. This will have the effect of maintaining the natural imagination, creativity, and curiosity as they grow up, rather than squashing it by rote learning of supremely boring stuff. Applied theory and hybridization of subjects are keys here.

The end result is graduates well-versed in a plethora of subjects rather than a handful of specialties. Graduates who are used to combine expertise or link vastly different concepts. Those are the habits of true innovators in tech, science, and thoughts as well as of the most original artists.

Healthy creativity and strong lateral thinking are also two characteristics that are vital in staying relevant and keeping the upper hand in the face of a new competitor to the human race — the most significant competitor we ever had to face: the rise of Artificial Intelligence.

Protection against AI and automation

All around us, we can already see more and more work getting automated or given to the care of artificial intelligence. And yet those technologies, particularly AI, are still young and quite far from their potential.

As time progress, AI is going to be able to outperform humans in more and more fields. Even in those it doesn’t, technology steadily become cheaper and more powerful, so we will reach a point where an AI can do an almost-as-good job than you but 24/7 and for a fraction of your cost.

In his book Life 3.0, Max Tegmark compares the slow penetration of employment fields by AI to a valley slowly filling with water. People working at repetitive tasks or employed for their deep-yet-narrow knowledge of a specific subject ate most at risk of seeing their positions automated and dwell at the bottom of the valley. Those whose skill sets are more difficult to copy dwell higher in the hills. The water keeps rising, and more and more people will be submerged and be replaced. The best short-term strategy is to aim for higher ground by focusing on jobs that require creativity, lateral thinking, curiosity, empathy, and other traits that are quite difficult to automate. (I believe the example comes from someone else, but I’m moving at the moment, and the book is in a box somewhere…)

Keeping the same image, Intent-based Education allows students to develop those hard-to-automate skills. It enables them not only to start higher on the hills but to keep the ability to continue moving up all their life and stay ahead of the water.

Benefits for teachers

We tend to take them for granted, but without teachers, we, as a society, are pretty much screwed. And yet, as a society, we opt to underpay them, deny them resources vital for their work, overcrowd their classrooms and bury them under tons of value-less bureaucratic paperwork. If that’s not setting ourselves up for failure, I don’t know what is.

Giving teachers the bandwidth to do their job

I have a few teacher friends. Outside of summer, I barely see them because they are drowning in reviewing student’s work, filing paperwork, asking for, and giving their time to their students. I also knew teachers who have just given up, after years of grinding eroding any energy or motivation for their job. In both cases, that’s sad. And dangerous for our society.

Intent-based education includes a focus on value-producing work and the removal of busywork, low-value work, and bureaucratic demands. For those who know me, this will not come as a surprise.

Removing busywork free the teachers to spend their time where it counts: guiding and inspiring students, as well as removing roadblocks (or teaching the students how to do that themselves). The focus is removed from evaluating and put on developing curiosity and creative thinking.

What if they have any time left? Then they can rest, work on their own research, do whatever the hell they want! We need them fresh, motivated, driven, and eternally curious. For that, we need to take better care of our teachers.

Letting teachers becomes the mentors and coaches they need to be

In an intent-based education model, busywork and bureaucratic duties are lessened to a great extent. Instead, we replace those by coaching and mentorship, which are precisely what the best teachers try to do anyway.

Teaching is a vocation. People go in it because they want to make a difference and help a new generation get the tools, mindset, and knowledge to move our society forward. This model allows them to do so.

Guiding, coaching, and mentoring is more important than just repeating facts, and yet far less demanding. This allows the teacher to consecrate more effort in the development of their students in proportion of the time they work.

Anyone who has benefited from a great coach or mentor will be able to attest the value such people bring, and the potential they can unlock. A teacher gives you information. A mentor shows you how it’s done and accompany you while you are doing it yourself. A coach guides you to tap your own potential, to realize that your limits are mostly self-imposed, and helps you become more than what you ever expected.

More rewarding relationships

I know some teachers can develop meaningful, lasting relationships with their students. I was lucky enough to have a few like that. But truth be told, most teachers are just too overwhelmed to have the time or energy to do it.

Coaching and mentoring changes that. Building relations is core to the experience. As a teacher, you have a direct hand in forging bright explorers and creative thinkers who can accomplish wonders. There’s pride to take in that.

I know teachers are proud of all their students. But there’s always a few who stand out — students who understood what lies behind the knowledge and used it to grow beyond it. In intent-based education, the model is designed to make this a reality for pretty much all students.

Benefits for society

Our entire society can, of course, also benefit from graduates of intent-based education systems. I’ll go one step further and even say that our society cannot afford to be without such graduates. Not anymore.

An innovation-driven society

There are many kinds of innovation: innovation of technology, of science, thought and art. And we drastically need all of them.

You probably have heard that our planet is overpopulated. This discussion started in the early 1800’s, back when the global population reached 1 billion. We now stand at 7.5 billion and are expecting to reach 10 billion by 2050. So, is Earth overpopulated? Well, the answer is both Yes and No.

A state of overpopulation is when the ecosystem isn’t able to sustain the population inhabiting it. On Earth, some areas are overpopulated, suffering from famine and environmental collapse, while others aren’t. If we want to ask the question for the entirety of the ecosystem, the answer becomes a tad more complicated.

If we were chimpanzees, at 7.5 billion strong, our planet would be exceedingly overpopulated and completely unable to sustain us as a population. But we aren’t chimps. We are Homo Sapiens, aka the dudes who can create stuff up out of nothing. We took (relative) control of our ecosystems, we adapted to new resources and created much that couldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our genius. Things like crops that produce more abundant and more nutritious food than ever before or materials that can’t appear in nature. We colonized every ecosystem and are now looking toward space and other planets. Our ability to science our way out of problems has allowed us to continue to thrive and continuously push the overpopulation limit.

Of course, we still have problems. On one hand, we need to continue to push the envelope to increase available resources and avoid overpopulation. On the other hand, our “sciencing every problem in sight” style is depleting natural resources and destroying the habitats of Earth’s other populations, pushing them to extinction. (For an excellent overview of this topic, I recommend the book The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles Mann.)

We need brilliant people who can creatively find solutions for both families of problems. We reached a point where this kind of people won’t magically appear in our midst: we need to prepare them, to train them to be able to reach beyond our current limits.

In the current state of our world, we have no choice anymore but being a relentlessly innovation-driven society.

Staying relevant and building the right relationship with emerging AI

Even in its current infancy, the greatest strength of AI is firmly in depth of expertise. Even when AI will be created with multiple expertise, for a long time, it will only mean that they will deeply understand various subjects and outperform us in each of them. Creativity and lateral thinking are NOT the strong suits of the AI, but it is ours.

By training ourselves and our children to prioritize those traits, we ensure we will still have a function, and that we will keep developing artificial intelligence to prop us up rather than compete with us. Let it become awesome as deep experts in specific fields, even if it makes people irrelevant in those fields, and let us use that easy to access expertise to free us and support us in creating new areas of relevance for ourselves.

Technology is not to be feared. We can’t stop progress, and what we have to do is adjust to it and tame it, so it continues to serve us.

Now, for those of you who work in AI ethics, I’m not advocating for shackled AI as a true intelligence IS alive in my book, and slavery isn’t a good idea. Until we find how to keep AI friendly and goal-aligned with us, my vote is in keeping AI specialized and more tool-like. But that’s a discussion for another post.

Last words

I’ll be the first to admit that this model still needs a lot of work. I’ll even say that I might not remotely be the best person to refine it. That’s fine by me.

I invite you, dear reader, to pick up the conversation. You might not be the best person to refine either, and it frankly doesn’t matter. The future will affect us all. We should all take part in creating the models to build a better tomorrow. If you are the right person to build on these ideas (and if so, you probably use a bunch of them already), then by all mean, do so! I’ll always be there to add to the conversation.

We might not be able to fix every problem in our world. But it’s our duty to create the infrastructure that will produce the people who will be able to. Or at the very least the people who will take the next steps. Damn, now I sound like Jeff Bezos.


A New Social Decentralization Scale

Category : Society 5.0

When you think about it, we still live in a medieval society.

There’s an elite layer of society where decision-making and wealth are centralized, and a much, much larger layer who’s responsibility includes obedience, conformity and producing value to will be managed by the centralized layer.

Of course, the terminology has changed, and we have gained a few more liberties over the centuries. But we still essentially work for the benefit of our lords (corporate lords rather than nobles), and while we vote for our representatives, they will have a few years of ruling with little accountability. Our role is still to execute, like good little serfs.

We understand that this is how the world works, and there’s little we can do about it. After all, we all have families to feed, we all have to work long hours, we all have to follow the rules that are there for our own good. Right?

Nonsense!

Now, more than ever before in history, we have the tools to build the society we need. More than that, we HAVE to do so, as we are on the cusp of a new social era, Society 5.0, the age of AI. It’s not even a matter of choice anymore. Business as usual just won’t work.

What we need is to redesign our society to provide us with options, with means to create more awareness for us, more agency, more prosperity.

This is why Hivernité was founded. We are a think tank dedicated to exploring the building blocks of those options, so people all around the world can use them creatively and figure out how to create the society we need. Alone, our power is limited, but together there’s little we can’t achieve.

Changing the world involve shifting the distribution of power

Inour society, like in any medieval society, the power of decision is centralized, creating an imbalance of power and meaning that a small group of people is calling the shots.

If we want to be more than mere executing drones, we need more power over our world. I’m not talking about shifting the balance, because it would just move the problem. No, I’m talking about redistributing the power differently, from a centralized model toward distributed models. Models with an “s,” because there is no single model that’s appropriate for every situation.

Decentralization is one of Hivernité’s axis of reflexion. To be able to talk about it and create tools and options, we needed to have a standard, clear definition of it. There are definitions out there, for sure, but they are often confusing, and the same term can apply to vastly different models.

The Social Decentralization Scale

Wecreated a Social Decentralization Scale to gives ourselves a common point of reference. We want to share it with you today, both because we will refer to it in the future, but also because a standard frame of reference helps to foster productive discussions across often vastly different groups of people.

In a nutshell, we could define centralized models as models where strategy and decisional power are owned by a central authority and where the autonomy of the components is limited to execution.

By opposition, decentralized models are models where goals are decided by a central authority and where components are autonomous and can self-manage as they wish, as long as they contribute toward the goal.

What we see as we move from more centralized models toward more decentralized ones, is that people (us!) more from being mere components in the system toward being its active agents. We cease to be at the service of the system and the system start serving us.

We broke down the scale in four broads categories of models:

Centralized

Acentralized model is centered around a strong leader (autocracy) or a small group of people (oligarchy) who hold all decisional powers over both strategy and execution. All other components of the organization exist to execute on those decisions and usually have little to no input.

True centralized models are mostly seen in small businesses, or organizations build around a strong leader. Startups, private clubs, and street gangs use these models.

As long as it remains small, a centralized model can be quite efficient, especially under a single decision-maker. Information can be relayed quickly, and decisions can be made at the drop of a hat. However, since the centralized control is essentially absolute, there is enormous pressure on the leader, with its limited grasp on the whole context, to make the right decision at all times. Bad calls are bound to happen, and with an entire organization trained to execute rather than dispute decisions, there isn’t a safety net to avoid the outcome.

While modern communication and information-processing technology allow a true centralized organization to operate at a much larger size than ever before, at some point, they will have to turn toward a delegated modelto continue to grow.

Delegated

Often erroneously called a decentralized model, a delegated model(called devolued when discussing states or nations) delegate specific areas of decisional power over execution across the system following hierarchical model, but both keep some powers within an oligarchic group as well as a “last say” over delegated decisions, ultimately retaining the the real decisional power in centralized. Since decisional power is delegated and not transferred, decision-maker higher up in the hierarchy can invalidate decisions made by lower-ranked decision-makers, or even take back delegated decisional power altogether.

Delegated models are commonly used in governments and large companies. Unwieldy size makes them difficult to control through centralization models and delegating execution can ease the process.

This creates bureaucracy. Delegates are allowed to make limited decisions, but even those need to have their scope clearly defined, so they work for the system rather than against it. To help guide them, regulations are enacted, dictating how things should be decided. In turn, these regulations lead to replacing human-made decisions with processes, considered more efficient because they are pre-made decisions. The less trust there is within an organization, the more regulations and processes will be present, and the more cumbersome the bureaucracy will become.

The main problem with bureaucracies is that they are systems in themselves and quickly become self-serving. Processes remove human initiative and agency, and human agents become at the service of those processes rather than the other way around.

Now, as a result of bureaucracy, large centralized organizations are slow to react and adapt. There’s just too much information to process to quickly form plans or adjust them on the fly. They can be very efficient, but only as long as they exist in an unchanging environment: To operate, they require predictability, which is the ability to accurately predict how things are going to be in the future. When the context is very stable, it is possible to extrapolate on the present to predict the future. But if the context is volatile, uncertain, complex or ambiguous (see VUCA) which, let’s be frank, describe most contexts nowadays, predictability starts looking increasingly like sheer divination.

Delegated models can appear decentralized, but ultimately the true decisional power is still held within an individual or oligarchic group. The rest of the decision-makers end up mired in bureaucracy, where regulations and processes have more power and influence than they do.

Coupled with management through predictability, this reliance on processes and regulations directly leads to a reduction in human agency and autonomy. People get turned into cogs in a machine that need to run in a perfect way to stay predictable, even if both that perfection and the accuracy of the prediction are nothing but delusions.

Again, let’s keep in mind this is the context in which most people are working and being governed.

Decentralized

Adecentralized model involves a weak center providing guidance rather than control, and strong autonomous, self-managed nodes where the majority of the decisional power resides. The center (government, upper management, etc..) determines the general direction of the organization and states it as a clear vision supported by high-level goals. Nodes align with the vision, making all the necessary decisions themselves to works toward the goals while also keeping themselves relevant.

Decentralized models trade control for quickness, adaptability and resilience.

Decisions are made closer to the problems, allowing for more relevant solutions (solutions are punctual, not organization-wide regulations) that can also be implemented faster since any approval occurs at the local level.

Decisions, design, and planning happens very close to the people who will consume the value created by the organization, allowing for more discussions and ultimately an offer that’s more relevant the needs and realities of the client.

Without a clear division of labour between departments, self-managing nodes need to develop a broader range of expertise such as budget and workers management so they can function autonomously. They will have to constantly remain relevant to maintain their existence. Nodes unable to develop those skills or stay relevant will fail as the system cannot support them artificially. More autonomy requires more awareness and broader skills: you can’t just coast.

Without the need for a hierarchical structure, self-managing nodes will have to build direct relationships between themselves and find ways to cooperate effectively. This will transform the organizational structure from a pyramid and toward a net. Redundancy across the entire system forms, losing some efficiency but creating resilience. Some nodes can, and probably will, fail, but the system is resilient enough to continue to function.

This constant replacement of failed or irrelevant nodes isn’t a weakness. It’s a decentralized model way of continually evolving and refreshing itself naturally without necessarily needing conscious intervention.

Dave Gray’s Podularity

In his 2014 book The Connected CompanyDave Gray describe Podularity, which is a practical application of a decentralized model for companies. At its core, podularity is a decentralized model that adds a backbone to the nodes system (called “pods” here).

This backbone defines the rules of collaboration between pods (expectations, duties, available services, how information is shared, etc..). There can be more than one backbone within an organization, and pods can link to multiple backbones as needed. Backbones are in constant evolution driven by the interactions, needs, and contributions of the participating pods. Management in this model works through better through vision and goals rather than control, as in other decentralized models, but it still can actively participate in the dynamic backbone(s) by making sure its needs are taken into account in each backbone.

The beauty of podularity is its sheer adaptability and versatility as a model. The constant evolution of the backbones and constant discussion involving all parties keep the system current, fresh and adapted to the organization’s realities of the moment.

We also found podularity to be an excellent tool for the progressive decentralizing of an existing organization. Any organization or company can move toward such model at its own rhythm, starting with the groups more likely to succeed (Shameless plug: if you are interested in decentralizing your organization using a podular model and need some expert help, drop us a line at Moabi.xyz).

Distributed

Adistributed model is built from autonomous, self-managed nodes who hold all decisional power over themselves, and who will cooperate and pool resources for endeavour where it makes sense either for an economy of scale or if additional skill sets are needed. Such a group usually have a theme or a set of principles to unite the group. If a decentralized model still uses a top-down approach, with vision and guidance at the top, a distributed model is a bottom-up approach with the only shared element adhered to through consent.

The main difference between a decentralized model and a distributed modelis the removal of the last remains of a centralized decisional oligarchy, moving all decisional powers directly in the hands of the constituting nodes. In a distributed model,

In addition to the precedence of local decisions over organizational decisionsthat we can also see in decentralized models, the lack of strong binds between the nodes in a distributed model means that any of those nodes as the option to opt-out or leave the group if they so wish. That level of liberty significantly eases the issue of having to find a compromise that agrees with everyone or to force some to accept a decision that will hurt them.

Distributed models also have a secret weapon: their loose nature and habit of cooperating in endeavour larger than a single node allow them to scale up very rapidly when needed by enlisting additional nodes in a project, and to scale back down as quickly when the need has passed to the satisfaction of all involved. A powerful example of this ability comes from the adventures of famous privateer Henry Morgan (yes, the rum brand is named for him) as he launched an expedition against Panama City in 1670–1671: from a crew of around 150, he assembled a flotilla counting over 2000 buccaneers, sacked the city, split the treasure, and then release his forces all in a matter of weeks.

Distributed models come in two flavours:

League

league keeps the bonds between nodes on a voluntary basis only. No organizational superstructure encompasses the entire league. Any collaboration between some of the nodes concern only those nodes which participate.

An excellent example of a league would be an association of professionals, bound only by a shared code of deontology. Apart from this code, they are no link between nodes, unless some actively choose to collaborate.

One of Hivernité’s upcoming projects, The Pyrate Model is build along those lines. In it, each node, called Crews (like a pirate ship crew), share an organizational model but remain entirely autonomous, and can come together to form Ventures, such as projects or companies owned by the participating crews. More information about The Pyrate Model will be available in 2019 in the upcoming book The Pyrate Handbook: community-driven entrepreneurship for the age of AI.

Confederation

confederation is similar to a league, but with an organizational superstructure present. This superstructure hold shared tools, services or endeavours that concern the entire organization. In a confederation decisional power remains within the nodes, and all decision regarding the superstructure or the entirety of the organization is voted on by all the nodes.

The European Union is an example of a confederacy with a strong superstructure that regulates trade and movement between that participating states, while the Native American Wabanaki Confederacy has a much lighter superstructure designed around cultural activities, education, political advocacy, and activism. Superstructures can vary a lot between different confederacies simply because it is a tool designed to serve the participating entities in a specific fashion.

One of Hivernité’s upcoming projects, The Pyrate Haven is the creation of a confederacy for Crews using The Pyrate Way, offering community tools, shared services, and endeavours. The inspiration is drawn from the historical Republic of Pirate in 18th century Bahamas (which was, technically, a confederation rather than a republic).


Society 5.0: Accessibility as the Focus of the Design Industry

Category : Society 5.0

Society 5.0 herald the coming of the ubiquity of technological systems in our environment. Those systems won’t be an option, as they will become one of the primary ways we will interact with our environment.

Designers, especially UX Designers, have made great strides in the past decade to create products that are increasingly more intuitive. Fierce competition made sure that products with clunky controls would be cast aside by paying customers. As this reality inches closer, we need to start addressing it.

The road ahead, however, will take far more from designers than better interfaces targeted toward a techno-savvy public. All types of designers will need to make their work far more accessible than ever before. UX Design (that’s user experience design to the uninitiated) will continue to grow as a field, even faster than before. Other areas of design, from system design to architectural design will need to pay attention to these new publics are design accordingly.

Society 5.0 is bringing advanced technological tools to the masses, trying to ease and better their lives. We are talking about self-driving vehicles, IoT-backed remote medical consultations at home, AI-assisted data analytics to feed you better tailored information and much more. Society 5.0 aims to address the plight of many oft-neglected segments of our population (such as the elderly or the handicapped) by giving new technology-driven opportunities to receive care and participate in all aspects of society.

Society 5.0 is bringing advanced technological tools to the masses, trying to ease and better their lives. We are talking about self-driving vehicles, IoT-backed remote medical consultations at home, AI-assisted data analytics to feed you better tailored information and much more. Society 5.0 aims to address the plight of many oft-neglected segments of our population (such as the elderly or the handicapped) by giving new technology-driven opportunities to receive care and participate in all aspects of society.

What does accessibility mean?

Intuitive

Decades later we still make jokes about how complicated it was to set the time on a VCR. Designers of all stripes have learned since that nice, thick user manuals are thrown in remote drawers without being read and then instantly forgotten, or find a new life as door stoppers.

Today’s designs must be intuitive. Either people should understand instantly how to use the item, or the object itself should show the user how to operate it. This intuitive design becomes even more crucial than it is today as technology will permeate everyone’s life more than ever before.

Just think about self-driving cars. Yes, there will be training to use them and reading the manual will be important. But not everyone will take the time or have the leisure to do so. If there’s an emergency and you have to use a self-driving vehicle without proper training, hope that it can guide you through its safe operation.

Convivial

Intuitive design is one thing, but we still need people to want to use the tools made available to them.

Simplicity, speed, and rewarding experience is the only way to make sure whatever tool or service we create will actually be used. Creating a remote system to allow low-mobility elderly people to get medical checkups from home isn’t helping if they refuse to use it.

This also applies to people. Managers making themselves more accessible and open to frank discussions offer convivial access. Welcoming discussion groups who keep a positive attitude and avoid falling into toxicity are another example.

Physical access

When we talk about physical accessibility, we usually conjure up images of wheelchair ramps and text magnification. In Society 5.0, which aims to include as many people as possible, it will need to be much more than that.

Whether it is to allow disabled people to participate in the workforce easily or to offer proper health monitoring at home to the elderly, we will need IoT-connected cyber-physical systems. Those systems need to be designed and made available.

Think about chairs that read your bio-signs and systems that translate brain impulses into digital commands to controls computers, self-driving vehicles, phones, and automated kitchens. All of these systems are currently in existences as prototypes or proofs-of-concept, but the lack designs created for general consumption leave them as mere dreams for the future for many people who would live much better lives with them. For all his prestige, even Steven Hawkins did not have access to those.

Just think of all the difference advanced 3D-printed prosthesis made. While some models include highly sophisticated electronic packages and cost a small fortune, it is possible to download some simpler models from the Internet to create new arms for kids for a few hundred dollars.

We are also now talking about exoskeletons allowing people to carry heavy charges for extended periods of time. When will similar constructs enable paraplegic people to walk again? We are not far.

The rise of DIY bio-hacking, especially for cybernetic implants, show a new realm of possibilities. People are replacing glass eyes with cameras and sensors. Now how can we combine that AR to close the remaining gap between reality and cyberpunk novels? People implant magnets to gain a new sense to feel magnetic and electrical currents. How can this be improved to gain direct, touch-less control of tools and systems around us?

When you take those new innovations into consideration, physical accessibility takes a whole new sense.

Digital access

It’s not just people interacting with systems anymore. The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is on the rise: we are now living in a world where billions of devices are connected and talking to each other. That growth is not remotely done!

We are all aware of the rise of smart home gadgets, ranging from the useful to the pointless, and giving rise to creepy stories. In the medical field, 87% of organizations have adopted IoT systems for anything from remote monitoring to mechanized pills designed to deliver medication in specific parts of the body. There are examples like that in virtually every field.

Designing for both human and IoT connectivity is going to be a must. At the same time, simple connexions are not enough, and security must play a critical role (see Security, below).

Transparency

At its core, Transparency can mean availability of information.

I’m not advocating for total transparency of all information at all times (see Security below), but a lot of information is often restricted or inaccessible for no good reason.

I see four main barriers to transparency:

Power: There is power in controlling information. In many jobs, people use that control to justify their continued employment by turning themselves into gatekeepers. In some instances, people will restrict access to information strictly to create unnecessary power dynamics. We can find these information tyrants pretty much everywhere.

Bureaucratic process: From pretend security processes who make legitimate access to information difficult but do nothing to slow down criminal access, institutionalized lack of trust and ridiculously long chains-of-command, all the way to substantial bureaucratic processes that keep growing without ever being questioned, so much information would be freely available to you if you could just provide that damned permit A-38

Lack of communication skills: Clear communication is a skill. As such, it isn’t innate but must be learned and can be improved throughout our entire lives. And yet it is something we neglect regularly.

The key to communication is to stop assuming the other person will understand what we are trying to communicate and try a bit of empathy. How can we make whatever information we communicate easier to access, simple to understand, clear in content and actually useful to the other party?

Fear: Humans are a fearful species. We tend to be paranoid for no reason, or the wrong reasons. Companies hide financial problems from employees for fear they will stop working. Bosses hide mistakes for fear that their subalterns will lose trust in them. Parents tell tall tales about the upstate farm where the dog has gone to avoid talking about death with their kids. When did this acts born of fear actually made any situation better? We don’t only delaying the inevitable, we actually make it worse.

We are also pretty good at inducing fear into other to shift their attention from what they really should be fearing. Want an example? Equifax, the large company that holds pretty much all your credit information, will frighten you with how you can reveal your information to bad people and try to sell you products to make that information more secure… all the while being themselves hacked through a mixture of negligence and stupidity, giving away all our information.

By creating transparency around information, we speed up processes, ease work, and avoid much guesswork that can lead to mistakes. Transparency reduces the senseless fears, and paranoid fantasy people have when they know you are hiding things from them.

Security

A critical part of the discussion on accessibility is the security around the information that you don’t want to share. Little things like personal information, passwords, confidential records, restricted access, you know, all those things that get hacked and stolen several times a week these days.

There are several challenges in front of the security experts:

  • how to make systems generally more secure while staying easy to use?
  • how to make sure sensitive information remain accessible when without being at risk of being stolen?
  • how can smaller organizations protect themselves from well-funded, government-backed hackers?
  • how to remove people as the weakest link in any security system?,
  • how can private citizens protect themselves if big corporations that require their private information can’t keep it secure? (again, think of the Equifax leak as an example).

The security issue has large communities of experts already debating and exploring new avenues to improve security. As citizens, will the custodians of our private information get on board and listen to them, or just ignore the issue as it would imply additional expenses? We need to make to send a message with our wallets and aim to work only with those organizations who take all the necessary steps to protect us.

Designing for new publics

When high technology permeates everyone’s environment, whole swaths of the population who were often ignored or addressed in “future updates… probably” are now part of the core public.

Not only these people won’t be able to avoid those technological systems anymore, but many of them will have to be explicitly designed for them.

The physically impaired

Physical impairment encompasses a wide range of conditions.

We got motor issues, from a broken limb to quadriplegia, to neurodegenerative afflictions attacking coordination or causing tremors. We got sensory input issues, from color-blindness, partial or complete blindness, muteness, deafness, loss of sense of touch. There’s a lot more, but those can already get us thinking.

While we certainly can’t account for all impairment for all systems at all times, we still have the option of addressing the impairment itself and give the afflicted person better access to a much wider range of systems.

The mentally impaired

When I was younger, my grandmother took care of a group of people with intellectual disabilities. She had them start their own small business, creating crafted items to be sold in local stores to finance fun activities of their choice. The activities were nice, sure, but it was nothing compared to the pride they had every time they saw their items for sale in a real store. Like everyone else, it was vital for them to contribute to the world, to matter. Society 5.0 believes they just need the right tools to do so.

People with intellectual disability aren’t the only ones who could be considered “mentally impaired.” Several afflictions, many brain injuries or neurodegenerative conditions fall into this categories. Hell! Being drunk isn’t called being impaired for nothing! Still, all of them will need to move around, as well as to operate systems in their house and out in the world.

How do you design for people who have trouble with complex operations? Or people who can’t remember instructions after a minute or two? Or people who are unable to read?

The elderly

The elderly tend to be a bit of the two previous categories but in a different package.

More and more of our senior citizens are well enough used to technology by now. However, as age progress, even the tech-savvy ones can become confused or merely insecure about using unfamiliar systems.

Our society is aging and fast. Not only we had fewer children in the past five decades, but more people are living longer. A rapidly aging population was one of the main drivers behind Japan’s Society 5.0 reflexion, and the rest of the world isn’t that far behind. Elder care is going to be one of the most critical aspects of our society from now on.

Children

Our lovable little monsters are all too often treated like second-class citizens. We either design specifically for them, or we assume their parents will take care of things for them.

However, as technology will spread to all aspects of our living environment, kids are going to interact with those new systems continually. Kids can be rough with electronics, inquisitive with new systems and love to learn to do things by themselves (well, when they want to). My own daughter can’t read yet, and when she uses a child-restricted tablet designed for especially for young kids, she will still find her way to eBay or fiddle with the tablet’s settings. Every. Single. Time.

Kids play outside, visit shopping malls, use washrooms. They do a lot of the same things adult do and should be able to use many of the same systems too. They can’t only have their own versions, as duplicating systems everywhere would soon be cost-prohibitive.

Animals

We have a lot of pets and, in an automated world, some systems will have to be designed for their needs too. Even wild animals, such as raccoons and coyotes, are now getting used to life in urbanized areas. Better tracking and control of their movements will allow us to design our cities better to accommodate these new “citizens” that, whether we like it or not, are here to stay.

As research demonstrates that animals are more complex and intelligent than we first thought, as a society, we will need to recognize their needs better and cater for their recreational needs.

Robots and other cyber-physical systems

Finally, all of our new robots, toys, and tools have some needs that must be fulfilled if we want them to serve us properly.

Machines have a variety of need as significant as ours, larger even if we consider that they require more maintenance and an increasingly large number of them will require to be connected to other systems.

We tend to design those machines themselves, but not their environments. Autonomous mobile robots are still a curiosity, apart from the odd exception (like those robotic vacuum cleaners), but this will change faster than we think. Fully human-like androids are still far in the future, meaning that between now and then we need to design for somewhat mobile, somewhat autonomous, somewhat intelligent machines.

Get involved in the discussion

Society 5.0, while making a lot of exciting promises, involves quite a lot of challenges that are all too often glossed over. Accessibility and all of what that means for the design industry is but one of those challenges.

The best designers of tomorrow are those who will start exploring these new challenges today. We are at the dawn of an era of new possibilities.

At Hivernité, a Montreal’s think tank with a focus on reinventing our world for the era of Society 5.0, these discussions involving the experts of the field, both veteran and new, are quite important. If you are interested in participating, I invite you to keep an eye on our website to see when and how you can contribute.


Society 5.0: What Does it Mean For Us?

Category : Society 5.0

We are now at the dawn of the fifth stage of human society. This is a big deal. 

Like all society stage before it, this one is driven by the emergence of game-changing technologies from the fourth industrial revolution. This time its significant advances in biotech, in artificial intelligence, in quantum computing, in cloud and fog computing, the Internet-of-Things, cyber-physical systems, and nanotech. We are moving from technologies we use a tool to control our environment, toward technology as our environment. 

Like all society stage before it, this one is driven by the emergence of game-changing technologies from the fourth industrial revolution. This time its significant advances in biotech, in artificial intelligence, in quantum computing, in cloud and fog computing, the Internet-of-Things, cyber-physical systems, and nanotech. We are moving from technologies we use a tool to control our environment, toward technology as our environment. 

We are talking about a revolution . More than slow progress, we re seeing a cascade of innovations and significant breakthroughs in science and techs. It means a shift powerful enough it profoundly affect all facets of our society. It means about half the job types of today will be replaced by occupations that don’t even exist yet. It means that interfacing human and machines will become commonplace (for medicalaugmentation or control reasons). Biotech breakthrough is accelerating, helping us transcend our limits and gain the upper hand of some serious illnesses.

In 2016, Japan has proposed an initiative dubbed Society 5.0 to purposely redesign many elements of their society using the advances of the fourth industrial revolution in order to serve its people better. 

This is something important. 

Most governments content themselves to react to current problems by offering immediate band-aid solutions to appease their constituents. When a government prefers to artificially sustain a company that has no hope of being competitive and turning a profit ever again to “save jobs”, or when a government issues powerful restrictive measures because it doesn’t really know how to deal with emerging technology, it doesn’t prepare its society for the future. Instead of addressing the real issue and building for the future, and It only creates an illusion of a solution, an illusion of safety. That company will have to close someday, and its employees won’t be better off then. Or those regulations will be worked around in no time by the honest proponents of the emerging technology (the less-than-honest won’t even wait that long). 

What Japan is doing is facing what’s coming, and trying to incorporate those changes in their society in a positive way. They are doing it proactively and are working with the creators of those technological advances as well as with futurists to design a better future. Regulations will happen, but to shape rather than block. The approach isn’t perfect yet (as cryptocurrency proponents will attest), but the will is there. 

It’s about people

Back in 2011 in Germany a workgroup proposed a plan named Industry 4.0 to address how the manufacturing industry could harness new technologies. The discussions around Industry 4.0 have evolved and spread far beyond Germany since then, helping the transition toward “smart factories” and better value-chain worldwide. 

Society 5.0 is built along the same lines: part high-level plan and guidelines, part workspace for discussions. The idea is to find how we can use technology to better the welfare of people and the environment they live in (both living and working environments, as well as THE environment). 

With a rapidly aging population, depleting workforce, loss of quality of life, energy and resource sustainability issues, as well as transportation challenges, these concern are very close to home for the Japanese society. Elsewhere some of those issues are less pressing, but not by much, and we still need to address them. 

One of the key element is to integrate technology with our environment better so it becomes seamless. Not only this will help remove barriers for large sections of the population (not everyone is tech-savvy), but by making technology more or less invisible, it stops being about the tech itself and can become more about its beneficiaries. 

Technology is meant to improve on our abilities and free us from repetitive and lower-value work, to allow us to take care of more important things. It was always the goal, and it has been a reality for entire classes of people. But that technology is imperfect and require plenty of humans to maintain it, analyze its output, and generally create value from it. Now we have reached a point where technology can take care of most of that work for us.

We are not done talking about Society 5.0 

The Japanese plan for Society 5.0 gives us an exciting view of how technology can affect our lives for the better in fields such as mobility, healthcare, food, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and disaster prevention. However, it is incomplete as it doesn’t cover employment or concepts such as personal meaning in the new society. I don’t believe it to be an oversight, but rather a space left open for discussion and the initiation of new ideas. 

What we need to make sure of, as a society, is that we don’t become irrelevant in the face of that technology. In the long run, we won’t be as we will find new areas where we will excel above machines. But it the short term whole swats of the population are in danger of being caught unprepared by those changes. It happened before, with each industrial revolution. We need to figure out now what we should do to help people find relevance, prosperity and meaning during the changes, rather than loss and despair. 

The need for a meaningful existence isn’t just for people who will risk being left behind in this new world, but also for the who will benefit from it the most. Just think about it: let’s say new technology removes the need for you to work, take care of most chores and add 30 years of productivity to your life. Just like a new retiree, you start by enjoying that freedom like a vacation. However, before long comes the big question: “What now?”. 

We, humans, need meaning. We talk about happiness a lot, but meaning is far more critical to our well-being and will bring enough happiness for us to be content. Traditionally what we do for a living has given us some meaning, family has provided another part, community another and religion too. The more of these elements you remove, the more depression, feeling of emptiness and solitude emerge. However, as our society changes, we need to either redefine and re-acquired those elements providing meaning, AND find brand new ones to replace those we move away from. Hobbies, travels, money and new experiences can be enriching, but they are not meaning, they are not our “WHY”. 

As part of the Society 5.0 discussion, we need to address the subject of meaning and how it can evolve. We need to explore new paths for it, paths that will capitalize on our modern technological paradigm. There is still a place for people to move our world forward, discover new things and make life better. This opportunity is not reserved for an elite few: the world of Society 5.0 increasingly provides more of us with the possibility to engage and become a positive force in our immediate environment, or the whole world. 

Being part of the discussion

Most discussions about Industry 4.0 have only involved business and industry professional, but Society 5.0 is entirely different in its nature and should include the voice of futurists, philosophers, historians, tech professionals, social professionals, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, no-collar workers, entrepreneurs and, well, pretty much everyone. It makes sense since we are all going to be affected. 

The questions are deceptively simple: “Looking at what’s coming, where do we want to go as a society?”, “How do we find meaning when what we know is replaced by something new?”, “How can we leverage our new technological paradigm to create a better world for all?”, “How can we prepare and help others prepare?”. 

In 2017, to find answers to those questions, I founded Hivernité: a small, think tank dedicated to finding ways to help our society become aware, to evolve and adapt to Society 5.0. It is still in its early days, but it has spawned a small ecosystem of projects aimed at educating people and opening their minds to new possibilities. We are discussing meaning, rethinking the workplace, system thinking & ecosystem design, developing human potential and more. It has been a demanding, rocky, but ultimately one of the most satisfying year of my life. I have found my “why”. 

You don’t need a think tank to participate in the discussion. Just look around you. What things (work, services, opportunities) might disappear and how can you help replace them by something more adapted to the realities of tomorrow? You don’t even need to know the answers just yet. Start the discussion, and you will be surprised by the potential for positive change that will emerge.