The Future of Natural Beekeeping

What is ‘natural beekeeping’?

The question should rather be, ‘is any beekeeping natural?’ and the answer must be that, in nature, only bees keep bees.

As humans, our interest in them has been primarily selfish: we saw them as the source of a uniquely delicious, sweet substance and paid little heed to their pervasive presence in the natural world, where, largely unnoticed, they went about their business of farming flowers.

Farming? In the same way that horticulturists select plant varieties for breeding, so have the bees and other pollinators selected, over millions of years, the plants that provide them with food in the forms of pollen and nectar and so have greatly influenced the colours and patterns of our landscapes and the scents and flavours of the herbs and the hedgerow fruits that we have taken and further developed into the food we eat.

In this sense, bees may indeed be thought of as farmers. They have been carefully and skillfully selecting plants from among the available mutations and crosses for more than 100 million years, while we may have been dabbling in farming for a mere 10,000 or so. Whether they did their work ‘consciously’, or it simply happened as a side-effect of their food-gathering activities, is an open question to which we may never have a satisfactory answer. Such is the case with many of the most innocent-sounding questions about bees.

In terms of a practical understanding of nature, compared to the bees we are but infants. Before we turned up, they had the flowers to themselves – give or take the odd dinosaur – and they made a magnificent job of helping to create universal, recklessly varied biodiversity: never allowing one species to dominate and always ensuring that there would be, in the lands where they found it comfortable to live, something in flower that would provide them with sustenance at all possible times.

In cooler regions, honeybees learned to live in enclosed spaces, where they could control the temperature and humidity and protect their young from airborne diseases, with the help of resinous substances made by trees. They learned that, by cultivating certain plants, they could gather sufficient quantities of nectar in the warm season to enable them to store it in concentrated form in sealed containers, where it would not spoil and so provide them with food to last them until the air again became warm and new flowers emerged.

They understood that nectar was a watery substance and that containers for it had therefore to be impermeable to water, so they learned to make beeswax – the most water-proof substance in all the natural world – from glands in their own bodies. They understood the energy cost of manufacturing wax and so devised a system of cell construction that made the most efficient possible use of it, so it became a larder and a nursery and a thermal reservoir all in one.

They became familiar with the evaporation and condensation of water within the hive, learning to turn their living space into an efficient condenser in order to improve the recycling of both water and the heat contained in the vapour.

Honeybees learned to defend themselves against predators by acting together, in the same way that they worked together to bring in food and nurse their young. They learned that the key to thriving in their world was co-operation and co-ordination with the seasonal changes. They had no need to claim territory for themselves at the expense of other species and so they had no need to waste energy on aggression: there was plenty for all.

Their cousins, the bumblebees, were able to fly in lower temperatures due to their bulkier bodies and thicker fur and were able to use their longer probosces to reach nectar in certain flowers that honeybees left alone. Other species adapted to a particular range of flowers that were in season just when they chose to become active, while some became carnivorous, and so, within the Hymenoptera order, the bees, ants and wasps diverged and adapted, each to their own ecological niche.

Honeybees focused on their numerical advantage and unique ability to reach out into the surrounding landscape, concentrating and processing its products within the space of their carefully laid-out nest. This made them more attractive to sweet-loving predators, so they selected homes in hollow trees, well away from the ground, keeping their entrance small and well-protected by guards, which were at the point of graduating from internal duties to foraging.

When humans eventually appeared, they were just another minor nuisance, although they soon came armed with smoke and fire to claim their prize. Millions of years previously, bees had learned that smoke was often the harbinger of doom and that filling themselves with honey and evacuating their home was the only real defence. Humans mistook this behaviour for passivity and so began the habit of smoking bees before robbing them.

For tens of thousands of years, human interference in the lives of bees was limited to stealing honey from them once or twice per year. Most colonies escaped such attention, as they were inaccessible to these naked apes, who did not seem to be as clever at climbing trees as their hairy ancestors.

Early attempts at keeping bees within reach in order to rob them more easily involved placing containers akin to sections of hollow tree, more or less at ground level and making them attractive to passing swarms. Variations on this theme were employed by many cultures, according to locally-available materials: straw skeps were used in places where grain farming had been developed; reed skeps in the marshes; clay pots and pipes where sun was plentiful and rainfall low; logs and cork bark where such things grew freely, and volcanic rock was hollowed out in the more geologically unstable areas. The bees were left to manage their own affairs until such time as some of their stores could profitably be robbed.

It was not until the advent of the movable-frame hive and subsequent invention of the motor vehicle, followed by the introduction of toxic chemicals into what had hitherto been what we would now call an entirely ‘organic’ agricultural system that bees’ real problems with humans began.

The movable-frame hive, pioneered by Revd. Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth in the USA, was the first really successful attempt at keeping honey separate from brood, such that honey could be harvested in bulk without fear of ‘corruption’ by eggs and developing larvae. It thus signalled the dawn of a new relationship between man and bees: that of master and servant.

Langstroth’s hive, which, in tune with the Victorian zeitgeist, he regarded as fulfilling ‘God’s purpose’ in giving man mastery over nature, became the model upon which was based virtually every subsequent hive design that was created with the intention of providing the beekeeper with a maximum yield of honey. Commercial beekeeping was thus born in 1852 and came of age with the introduction of self-powered trucks some thirty or forty years later. By the beginning of the 20th century, it became possible to transport hives quickly in large numbers to where crops were in flower, enabling the bee farmers (as they became known) to offer a mobile pollination service as well as to benefit from the large harvests of honey.

Through the twentieth century, the scale of operations became substantially larger. In the USA, bee farmers controlling thousands – even tens of thousands – of hives became commonplace, and the methods of the commercial honey producer were taught to and aped by the home beekeeper, who had no reason to question the methods of ‘experienced’ men. Thus we see to this day beginners being taught to check their hives every week for queen cells and to cut them out to prevent swarming; to mark queens with paint and clip their wings and to perform a number of other ‘management’ operations to exercise their ‘God-given’ right to control the lives of these wild insects.

Meanwhile, a German conglomerate by the name of I.G.Farben branched out from its core industry of dyes into agricultural chemicals, derived from its development of chemical warfare products during World War I, and began making huge profits from the sale of insecticides and fertilizers. ‘Quick-fix’ industrial agriculture was born and industrial beekeeping followed swiftly in its wake.

However, along with the increase in scale came a commensurate increase in disease. From being a minor nuisance in the nineteenth century, foul brood became a serious threat, destroying huge numbers of colonies and resisting eradication. In Britain, during During WWII, Winston Churchill – himself a beekeeper – put in place the first Foul Brood Inspecors, in an effort to get the epidemic under control by the simple strategy of destroying affected colonies, on the sound principle that removing susceptibility to disease from breeding stock will tend to strengthen the survivors. The success of this approach is evidenced by the relative rarity of AFB outbreaks in Britain some 70 years later.

The other dread disease – the unrelated and somewhat less virulent European Foul Brood (EFB) – proved less easy to tackle and has in fact become somewhat more common in recent years.

Other diseases, such as Nosema apis and most recently Nosema cerana are endemic and the now almost ubiquitous parasitic mite Varroa destructor, with its assortment of vectored viruses, have taken a huge toll on the honeybee population in the last half century, despite a barrage of ‘medications’ that have’ in all likelihood, made the problems worse.

The tendency of the conventional beekeeping fraternity is to throw yet more chemicals that the problem, in the hope that a ‘magic bullet’ will one day be found and solve all their problems. To my mind, this is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done, since – as Einstein himself indicated – we will never solve such problems using the type of thinking that created them. If, when Varroa was first discovered in Britain in 1992, we had done nothing but stop all imports of bees, ban all medications and allowed the bees to find their own way of dealing with the challenge, we would have lost a large number of colonies – perhaps 90% or more – but by now, 20 years later, we would almost certainly have a growing population of locally-adapted, mite-resistant bees. Instead, we were persuaded that we should put pyrethroid-based miticides into our hives to kill off the foreign invaders. Within a few years – probably exacerbated by the simultaneous use of pyrethroids on much of the farmland of Britain – Varroa became immune to such treatment and we realized that we had, far from solving the problem, made it worse by selecting for pyrethroid-resistant mites and the drug pushers had made a nice profit from the exercise.

It seems clear to me that while we continue to prop up our toxic food production system for the benefit of the agri-chemical-biotech industry, we will simply repeat the same ill-conceived, destructive cycles until we succeed in doing irreparable damage to our soil, our food supply and our planet. Given the apparent resistance of humans to learning long-term lessons, I am not optimistic about the future of the intrepid yet vulnerable Apis mellifera or that mis-named biped, mired in superstition, greed and self-interest: Homo sapiens.

‘Natural beekeepers’, by themselves, cannot hope to solve the bigger problem of a dysfunctional agricultural system, but we can play our part. We have natural allies in the permaculture movement, where taking a long view is at the centre of its guiding philosophy. We are naturally aligned with organic growers and all those for whom nurturing healthy soil is fundamental. We have massive and largely untapped potential support among the general population, who need to hear the truth about what is being perpetrated on our land in the name of ‘progress’.

If we and the bees are to have a shared future, we have a responsibility to help upcoming generations to re-discover their deep connection to the natural world – perhaps in some form of ‘farm-and-forest school’ – and thereby to redeem our collective failure to wrest control of our food production system from the hands of the power-hungry few.

Mobile Applications: What Is The Future Of Mobile Apps?

Mobile phone apps are being used for virtually everything… from texting, checking Facebook and email, to checking the weather, the stock market, gas prices, and much, much more.

Popular games like FarmVille and World of Warcraft also use applications.

Smartphone apps have become the rage because they have more advanced connectivity and capabilities than traditional phones.

There is now a greater demand for smartphones than for any other type of mobile phone, according to Wikipedia.

Almost half of America uses smartphones, according to Huffington Post.

Seventy nine percent of all smartphone users reach for their phone within 15 minutes of getting out of bed (All Twitter survey).

This percentage climbs to 89% among those between the ages of 18 to 24.

Smartphone users have an average of 7.4 social/communication apps on their mobile device.

They see their phone as an important tool to keep them connected.

Other interesting smartphone user stats:

  • 34 percent post photographs on Instagram
  • 27percent post updates on LinkedIn
  • 26 percent direct message through Twitter
  • 25percent check a Facebook news feed
  • 22percent check a Twitter feed
  • 20percent check an Instagram feed
  • 16percent use text messaging

A smartphone is like a PC in your pocket.

The average smartphone user checks Facebook 14 times a day and spends approximately half an hour a day on Facebook (Source: A recent study commissioned by a company in Menlo Park, California).

By 2015, it is estimated that mobile Internet usage will surpass desktop usage.

Considering the countless ways that people now use smartphones, some have compared the smartphone to a Swiss Army Knife.

Since mid-April of 2013, an underdog apps company has been paving an untrodden frontier that will soon be rolling out a newfangled breed of apps, only this time, with an innovative spin.

These applications will include gaming apps, social media apps, and more.

Clearly, the company intends to become the head honcho in the application industry, as stated in their promotional materials.

A recent company newsletter states that their goal is to reach one million users before June 15, 2013, which will be a record.

They are over halfway there as of May 22, 2013, even though none of their sign-ups have seen any of the company apps. In fact, the company is yet to go public.

Q: So why would half a million people join an app company without seeing the apps?

A: It’s the innovative spin, i.e. combining apps with what the company calls “incentivized sharing.” The company guarantees that their users will be rewarded through a sharing model similar to a network marketing pay plan. The difference is, the cash rewards will come primarily from the generation of advertising revenues rather than the selling of products.

The company will track these revenues through an app that has been designed for smartphones.

The apps will most likely also work on desktop computers and laptops, like most other apps.

There is still much about this company that we do not know.

Whether or not this company will live up to the aforementioned hoopla is yet to be revealed.

But with over a half-million sign-ups in a month, eyeballs sure are popping!

The Future of the Web – 7 Reasons to Become Web 2.0 Compatible

The World Wide Web has revolutionized the economy and impacted the majority of the world’s population within in the last ten to fifteen years. Today the Web is not only a resource, for a growing percentage of the population, it is the way we do business. The tools and uses of the Internet are evolving from static, HTML Web pages to interactive, user-driven Web experiences.

Since the Web was created in 1989 and on into the late nineties, businesses only had basic HTML Web sites to relay information to consumers, with little opportunity for rich or user-generated content that marks today’s most popular and useful sites. Web sites were nothing more than online brochures and business cards. Through the evolution of Web development and spread of Internet popularity, Web sites have grown into interactive, social outlets that provide not only rich content (such as video or interactive interfaces), but user-generated content, where Web site users actually create communities and provide content that could never be built by a single organization. Today, interactivity is driving the market and helping to shape the next generation of the Web.

A term heard more and more, Web 2.0 is being used to describe the next generation. In 2004, Tim O’Reily coined the term Web 2.0 as the business revolution of the computer industry, and it has come to be a general term used to embody interactive user interfaces, rich content, online social networking, and user-generated content. Although it sounds like a huge overhaul is in store for the Web, there isn’t a particular process in place to transform it. In fact, Web 2.0 isn’t an object that can be created. It is actually a perception of the direction the Web is heading. Web 2.0 is a new outlook where interaction is key, collaboration is mandatory, and developers are busily working to turn lackluster Web sites into social arenas. The Web is being transformed into a resource where Web surfers and professionals can combine knowledge and experiences to bring value to businesses and every other Internet user.

The following seven statistics reinforce that marketers should be planning to implement interactive Web site tools in the future:

1. 77% of the United States population is online (Harris Interactive) This basic statistic is where it all starts – nearly everyone that an organization might be interested in reaching is using the Web… and usually extensively. The excuse of “my clients do not use the Web” no longer exists for not having a good Web site.

2. 30% of the online population read blogs, about 50 million ( This new trend involves two of the phrases we used above when describing Web 2.0 – social networking and user-generated content. Imagine a newspaper where you could engage in a discussion with fellow readers about any interesting articles — that is blogging, and it will continue to grow rapidly. As with most of the technologies that are discussed here, the good news is that the technology of creating a blog is easy, although it still requires smart, dedicated people to generate the initial content.

3. 45% of active Web users are members of a social networking site (Nielsen-NetRatings) Social networking Web sites focus on building communities of people who share interests using the Web site itself as the vehicle for communications. A long list of such sites has popped up recently, many of which have a huge number of members. People love to interact with others, and the Web’s popularity has a lot to do with this. Business owners can use this trend in a number of creative and inexpensive ways to market their own products.

4. 38.4 million people visited in 2006, a 367% increase from the previous year (Nielsen-NetRatings) This site has had the most prominent growth in unique users from 2006 to 2007., which originally focused on young adults, has rapidly become a business networking gateway. Ideas streaming from general social networking sites have helped sprout a string of new sites focused solely on business networking like LinkedIn, Ryze, and

5. 54% of US Internet users watched online videos in 2006 (AP-AOL Video) Fifty percent of the US population is expected to watch online video advertising by next year, meaning that 155.2 million people will be exposed to online advertising by 2008. Businesses are projecting growth to $775 million in online advertising spending. The trend is expected to continuously skyrocket to a staggering $4.3 billion by 2011(B2B Marketing). Once again, the technology behind this is easy and inexpensive to deploy, so there is no reason for a Web marketer with good, relevant video content not to share it with the world.

6. 17 million US Internet users downloaded Podcasts in 2006(Pew Internet) Although this technology originally derived from the Apple’s IPOD MP3 player, it is not necessary to have one to listen to a Podcast or create one. In fact, producing podcasts integrated with RSS keeps listeners up-to-date with the latest audio releases from radio spots to online lectures. For marketers, the technology is inexpensive and easy to manage making it simple to turn ideas into podcasts.

7. 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% of media and communications marketers, 37% of retail marketers, 37% of financial services marketers and 38% of equipment and tech marketers currently use or are planning to use RSS within the next 12 months (Rok Hrastnik) RSS has the highest value among Web 2.0 technologies, mostly because it integrates with a majority of other interactive tools and because it requires virtually no upkeep. Not only is it a great way to gain publicity for news articles, press releases, events, but it is also keeps Internet users up to speed with podcasts, blogs, and online videos. Making a list of articles or events RSS-compatible is quick and requires hardly any ongoing maintenance, therefore making it a procedure that 100% of marketers should be exploring.

These tools are quickly becoming the cornerstones of online marketing plans. Interactive user interfaces, rich content, online social networking and user-generated content will be essential tools for online marketing growth in the near future.

Future of Online News Portals

No one thought that internet which began in the early 1990’s would have such a bright future that it will eventually hold such a powerful impact on our lives. Internet which is basically a global system of interconnected networks was made to serve billions of people worldwide irrespective of cast; creed or religion has today replaced many standard conventions of our daily lives. There is no surprise to the fact that most of the traditional media has also been reshaped.

For instance newspaper publishing has been remodeled to Web Sites, blogging and web feeds. When it all started, people were skeptical about the very whole idea of internet let alone forget about the news being remodeled. But as of now there are over a hundred million websites with billions of web pages. People are continuously switching to online media for news and entertainment related content, the reason being that nobody wants to pay for a thing that he/she can get foe free easily. As a result there is a constant slump (including some real big players of the industry) in the sales of the print editions of newspapers.

The online news sites often bring content that belongs to a particular geographical area but no one is complaining. For instance online gateways like India Report present select content from India. This kind of coverage gives the necessary focus which is required for such news related purposes and choice to people. The promise is reflected in the entertainment and sports section of these sites where the videos too are from local milieu keeping in mind the interests and preferences of people.

This kind of strategy of Online News Portals has a good chance of succeeding in near future with newspapers and the television media still lagging behind the online media. There will always be blogs and web feeds to supplement a newspaper or a news channel. Moreover news related content is available to the user as it happens, so no delay in reporting makes it a user friendly platform. Apart from serving news to the local public such portals are also reviving the interest of young generation in news and politics.

They continuously engage their audience by the means of polls, attracting attention with blogs and have an eye-catching photo gallery. As for entertainment these portals offer the content to the user at their convenience and in a crystal clear format with excellent sound quality making user experience an exciting one. The print and the electronic media have their task cut out. The online media have time going for them and there is no stopping them in near future also.

ZARA Franchise: Invest in Your Future

When we look at the current market scenario where jobs are a scarce commodity as the economy is in a downward spiral, there is a big cause for concern. Therefore, it is of a paramount importance that we meticulously plan our future well in advance. For a middle class person like me, it’s a dream to own a business and ZARA Franchise gives you that rare opportunity. It is a business model which yields relatively high returns on a low to medium investment. ZARA is a very well-known and a very well respected brand all over the world. An opportunity to associate with the ZARA Franchise would give you an entrance into, and understanding of, the ever growing and extremely lucrative industry of apparel retail.

ZARA Franchise was founded by Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain in 1975.It was however opened out of desperation and as a last resort, when a wholesaler cancelled a large order in which all of Ortega’s capital was invested. So he decided to sell the merchandise himself and opened the first ZARA store. The first store also featured low priced lookalikes of popular high end brands and it proved to be a huge success.

As the ZARA Franchise gained popularity, Ortega started the global expansion of the brand in 1980 and entered the US in 1989. ZARA is controlled by the parent company called Inditex group which also own the companies like Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, and Uterqüe. As of 31st January 2012 ZARA has over 1631 outlets in around 82 countries and has over 42 stores in the US. With the contribution of US being marginal at the moment to the $2.5 Billion profits posted by Inditex, the growth opportunities of the ZARA Franchise in America are immense and with ZARA planning to open multiple outlets in all the major US cities the future of the brand is looking very bright.

The business model of the ZARA franchise is based on the motto “High Fashion at affordable price”. ZARA stores don both men’s and women’s clothing and subdivided into lower and upper garments, accessories, shoes and cosmetics. ZARA boasts low prices for smart in-fashion clothes. It takes two weeks for ZARA to develop and display the products in their stores. ZARA Franchise launches over 10,000 different designs in a year which is way higher that of the industry average. ZARA has over 200 designers who design new products keeping in mind the current trends. They also take into account the feedback received from various store managers from all over the world and therefor keep abreast with the consumer’s likes and dislikes and design their products accordingly. They produce in small batches per product with an extensive variety.

The other unique factor in ZARA Franchise business model is that, it’s a vertically integrated retailer unlike other apparel retailers. This gives them a tremendous control over all the aspects of production like supply chain, designing, manufacturing and distribution of it’s product. This makes the business more cost effective as they don’t have to outsource the different processes. ZARA also boasts “word of mouth marketing” as they believe that if the product is good it will sell. Window displays also play an important role in promoting the products.

ZARA offers their franchisees full access to corporate services, such as human resources, training, and logistics at no extra cost. They also allow the stores to return up to 10% of purchased merchandise, which is a higher level than many other franchises. The ZARA Franchise usually runs into profit by the end of the first year and if there is any debt on the start-up cost, it would be recovered by the end of the third year. All you have to do is contact the corporate office and depending on the city you live in, you can apply for the ZARA Franchise.

The Future of Affiliate Marketing As a Career Choice

Almost every kind of business today has an online presence and there are mechanisms that allow for online money transfers. It has therefore become very easy to purchase inventory, pay workers and receive goods and services without moving from where you are seated. The internet has made it possible for anybody to setup an easy online home based business.

Stay at home parents, students and senior citizens who still have the strength to work but are locked out from formal employment by their age can still live productive lives. Online entrepreneurship not only provides a platform for offering services to people in different parts of the world but also provides a steady source of income.

There are as many forms of online entrepreneurial activities as there are products and services to be sold. One of the most popular and fastest rising is affiliate marketing. The core principle of affiliate marketing is that the more people you covert, the more you earn.

You can start a career path in affiliate marketing with absolutely nothing in your hands. This means that you do not have to have product neither do you need money. Armed with just a computer with access to the internet, your first step would be to identify companies who have products and services to sell for a fee. By directing people to these companies’ website, every sale made out of your efforts earns you an income.

With the benefits that affiliate marketing brings to an organization’s sales, this is not a marketing tool that is going away soon. Companies like conversions made from affiliate marketing because it means that potential customers are made of the existence every day. The power that affiliate marketing has of word of mouth advertising is simply phenomenal.

Without leaving the house, affiliate marketing has proven that people can still make a decent living out of selling products that belongs to other people. It however takes patience and resilience to live off of affiliate marketing and people who have been in this field for a long time are witness to this. The best time to start is while still in school or before you become desperate for a source of livelihood.

There are many resources available on the web on how to start a career online. Many success stories of people who started and are reaping the benefits are also available to offer encouragement and insight into the dos and don’ts that build a successful career.

How A School In The Kingdom of Bahrain May Hold Keys To The Future

As mentioned in a previous article, the world’s education systems are challenged to transform themselves to meet the needs of the knowledge economy. For world economic growth their graduates need to be able to get jobs or start their own businesses. There may be validity in the idea that education needs to remain somewhat separate from the needs of business, otherwise we have schools becoming little more than factories that turn out that people required by industry. At the same time the products that education graduate are people, and people want to have jobs and employment as well as to enjoy not mere survival but also the luxuries that they see others enjoying.

This is the second in a series of articles on the challenges and potential changes that face education in the 21st century. The obvious direct approach to preparing people of all ages for new work, is to teach them that work. This has led educators to see education in two tracks: one the academic that teaches students to think, process ideas, problem solve and to be scientific. The other, alternate track was vocationally driven. This often implied a somehow “less than” status to vocational work. Students were slotted to go one way or the other. The modern world is less compartmentalized than that, and seeing vocation or academics as two separate ways of being will no longer function. The modern employee or entrepreneur is required to maintain many of the same skills as the academic. Everyone needs to research information, organize it to meet the needs of their particular context, publish it in digital and non-digital formats, and be prepared to engage in active debate on the ideas they are working with. This is as true for a group of tradespeople as it is for professors, managers, business owners. The disconnect is that while some of these skills may develop during group work or project-based learning, most of the world still learns in classrooms with rows of desks, a teacher at the front, and students madly scribbling notes preparing themselves to regurgitate the content being handed to them when it comes time to take a test. What would a school look like if we started over? The answer to that question is being addressed in the Kingdom of Bahrain by their new Polytechnic University.

This article briefly discusses those ideas in the hopes that they are interesting to others and that they start a debate about new possibilities that are can be employed to transform education.

Bahrain Polytechnic University

All good action research starts with delving into current circumstances and understanding what is needed, perhaps that is the reason I like Bahrain Polytechnic so much. They started to design a program by conducting a series of interviews with human relations department to find out what they expected from the graduates they hired. Their findings demonstrated that the current perception of employers was that 49% of college graduates did not have the soft skills they needed (i.e. teamwork communication and problem-solving), 44% did not have the requisite language, math, or vocational skills that were needed, and 42% did not have an understanding of professional conduct or were not properly motivated to do good work. This puts a heavy burden on employers because their recruiting and training process is expensive and if almost 50% of the people they hire do not have the basics, they are inclined to go out of country for their recruiting. Using the interview process the design team for Bahrain Polytechnic then decided that they needed a curriculum that embedded these skills in the curriculum not just as an add-on or byproduct of the educational process. They concluded that traditional context and knowledge-based education must change and rapidly. This is not easy, it has a lot of things pushing against it. For instance, when you’re starting something new people don’t have confidence that you know what you’re doing, especially if what you’re doing implies that what they are doing is not good enough. Also there is a difficulty in finding staff through who will carry through on your vision, because, after all, your vision is new and likely to be misinterpreted. Finally, the facilities that you inherit from other models are, by definition, outmoded and get in the way of what you were trying to accomplish.

In spite of these challenges Bahrain Polytechnic has come up with three sets of skills, or types of growth, that will be overlaid and worked on concurrently throughout the students tenure at the University. There will of course be the academic studies, but alongside direct instruction will be employ-ability skills, and a continuously developing self-knowledge profile. In other words, these students will be continuously evaluated on their attitude, their delivery, and the coherency between those and how they see themselves. Marvelous! Educators will say things like, “that all sounds great but how are you can measure it?” Although this is still a work in progress, Bahrain Polytechnic has made great strides in answering that question. Still two years away from their first graduating class, they see their graduates having three transcripts that they will bring to future employers. The first provides an overview of the range of achievement levels on academic content, the same as provided by universities worldwide.

The second is what they call an employ-ability profile in which the student has had to demonstrate and been continually assessed by staff on what are considered the soft skills of communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organization, self-management, learning and technology. Those same skills are evaluated by the students themselves in their self-knowledge profile. Then all three are graphically laid over one another in order to give the employer a visual representation of the whole person who is applying for the job. How is this done? Through a curriculum that builds on the foundation program of strong English skills, the ability to research, use of information technology and math. The degrees offered are bachelors or diplomas in: visual design, international logistics management, information and communications technology, business, office management, web media, and engineering technology. They are just starting the process of design for the new campus, where the architecture of the buildings they inhabit will help rather than hinder their mission through wide-open spaces, easy places to meet, an atmosphere that promotes project work 24/7 etc. It was my pleasure to be able to sit in on their discussion with the architect, and that alone should dramatically increase the ability to think creatively, as the students will no longer be contained in rows of boxes. Their campus fits with the lifestyle engendered by digital natives, who jump easily between social, organizational, and project design work.

This article looked into an innovative solution to the problems addressed in previous writing about the apparent disconnect between education graduates and the needs of the employers who will hire them. Even as a start-up, this university has good management and solid backing from the Kingdom of Bahrain. At this points it looks as thought there is every likelihood that it will fulfill its mission. I said elsewhere, it is easier to start fresh in some instances such as when you are making dramatic change, then to refit existing structures. Future articles in this series will look into the ways and means in which action research can help when education and policy are faced with a “refit” rather than start over is good process.

The Strategy of Leadership is Thinking, Vision, and Planning – The Future Depends On It

Grammar speaks of events occurring in three plains. The past was, the future will happen, and we live now, the present. However, operating in the information age, the age of instant global communication, makes the future now. Gates [1] wrote we are citizens of an information society. He noted that past generations, and past societies found ways to gather information, get more work done, increase life spans, and improve their standards of living. Time was not as critical in those past ages. A message from a ruler may take months to arrive by sea courier. The Pony Express was six days. Airmail was cross-country overnight. The time span between thought and action are virtually unidentifiable today. Although leaders rely on collective knowledge sharing, leaders who engage in strategic thinking, imagining events as happening rather than will happen, allows them to view the present as their personal and organizational future.

This paper considers how important strategic thinking is for leaders who want to shape their future and the future of their environment. Strategic thinking is the starting point for creating vision. Traditional planning gives way to flexible organizational structures that change “on the fly.”

Strategy in past generations allowed leaders time for thinking, sensing a vision, clarifying the vision, articulating it to begin considering action plans. Accepting that the future is no longer an event to happen later, this paper explores how leaders think, envision, articulate, and plan. How do leaders continue to use strategy to their advantage in a rapidly changing global environment? The answer is in the age of possibilities [2]. Today, as never before we are free from traditional bonds of work, we are free to choose our futures as well as shape them to suit our own desires and needs.

This age is an extension of Gates’ information society. We have the ability to choose our reality in a way that never before existed. In the past, a baker’s son became a baker. However, many leaders of the past came from unexpected places. The Biblical King David was the young son tending sheep (1 Samuel 16:11) and Jesus was just the carpenter’s son whose mother we know (Matthew 13:55) [3]. Truman had leadership thrust upon him. These people saw a point on the horizon but events changes their vision. The age of possibilities allows us to rewrite our future as events dictate.

Accepting that we can change as events dictate suggests that there is a less linear structure in this image and a more chaotic non-linear structure. Sanders [4] describes an organizational structure as a known initial condition but the future appears random. Using the model of the “Lorenz Attractor,” she presents a view of interacting and interrelated parts that appear disorderly until a closer inspection reveals the spiraling order hidden in the model. The Gates’ information society and the Taylor and Wacker age of possibilities do not depend on a linear progression of thought and action and Sanders holds the non-linear nature of the new science of strategic thinking allows us to understand natural order on its own terms.


Does strategy have some mythical or mystical property? Leaders and leadership use the word in many contexts, perhaps not really acknowledging what strategy is. Therefore, a simple working definition of strategy for this paper is the deliberate means of attaining an outcome, being visionary.

Mintzberg, et al [5] explains that strategies inevitably have advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of setting direction is charting a course; however, the disadvantage is narrowing vision, hiding dangers. The advantage of focusing effort is coordination of activity; however, the disadvantage is groupthink. Having a definition of the organization provides understanding of the organization; however, the definition may hide the complexity of the supporting systems. Having a strategy that provides consistency establishes order in a way that reduces ambiguity; however, creative groups appear to operate with little or no consistency.

Strategy involves paradoxes as the above paragraph suggests. One paradox tells us the story of answers and questions, once you think you have all the answers, someone changes all the questions. Taylor and Wacker state this paradox as, “The more you are right, the more wrong you will be.” This contradiction confuses the reader, if you are right, how can you be wrong? How? The speed of knowledge accelerated beyond our ability to absorb it in our traditional learning pattern.

Another paradox for visionary leaders involves predicting the future. Leaders who are successful predictors of the future act as agents destabilizing the present. Taylor and Wacker explain that today’s realities and tomorrows expectations collide. The allocation of resources between present and future “produce a massive future-based political problem with huge consequences for the present.”

Strategy at Work

The State of Nebraska recently made National news with the passage of LB1024 that, in effect, created segregated school sub-districts in Omaha. The bill was the Unicameral’s way to defeat intercity lawsuits claiming “One City – One School District.” The City of Omaha annexed several small suburban communities to its west, provides police, fire, and city services to these communities; however, the communities remained independent school districts.

The City of Bellevue annexed several Sanitary Improvement Districts (SID) to its west, provides police, fire and city services to these incorporated SIDs. Previous mayors and city councils of Bellevue and Papillion drew arbitrary boarders marking the fringes of the two cities school districts in, what were then, unincorporated zones. Population growth attached itself close to Bellevue. Now, Bellevue’s city limits extend beyond the school district boarders. Therefore, Bellevue claims “One City – One School District.”

By passing this bill, Senator Chambers [6] acknowledged formal segregation of the districts. LB1024 created two super-districts, one in Omaha, and one in Bellevue. In Omaha, the super-district has three independent sub-districts. The independent sub-districts have authority over teacher hiring, measures of teacher/student success under federal No Child Left Behind, and administration of their own budget. The super-district has academic authority over the smaller sub-districts.

The strongest supporter of the LB1024 is the State’s strongest proponent of desegregation. Why did Senator Ernie Chambers of the State’s 11th district support the bill? He claimed the Omaha school district is already segregated. Segregation re-occurred with the end of bussing in 1999. Yet, no Omaha high school is more than 48 percent African American.

Bellevue Mayor Jerry Ryan acknowledged the drain on city funds fighting to redraw school district lines. The fight in Bellevue and Papillion is over federal dollars to schools with a population of children of military families. Offutt Air Force Base is located near Bellevue and military dependent children attend elementary and secondary schools in both cities. Redrawing district lines would result in more federal money to the Bellevue Public School District.

Strategic Thinking and Vision

Reading the paragraphs above may leave the reader asking, “What were they thinking?” Recall the paradox of predicting the future affects the present in adverse ways, yet successful leaders operate as though the future is now.

Another view is that nothing turns out exactly as expected. This may leave leaders in an action quandary: Strategic thinking in the midst of shifting paradigms servers to help organizations “identify, respond to, and influence changes in its environment.”

Strategic thinking allows leaders to think in terms of opportunities to innovate and influence their future and the future of their organization. Strategic thinking aids in abandonment of policies and procedures that are outdated, obsolete, or ineffective.

Strategic thinking is having an awareness of what has not yet taken shape, having foresight. Foresight has a facet that is an individual ability and behavior and it can be a process or activity in business. On a macro level, foresight is a global practice. Note, reaching a macro level must pass from micro – individual, through mezzo – organizational, to reach macro. Foresight starts with the individual leader seeing or sensing something better [7].

Foresight is more than vision; it is visionary. Being a visionary leader means being provocative and questioning rather than seeing answers. Mintzberg, et al (1998) calls upon visionary leaders to operate on emotional and spiritual resources, values, aspirations, and commitment. Leaders need a mental image, build a mental model of a desirable future state. The visionary state is as simple as a dream or complex as a written document outlining the dream in measurable steps.

Visionary leaders must next translate the dream of the desirable future state into a vision they can share with the organization. Sharing a vision must be proactive, must be like a theater performance. Mintzberg, et al addresses performance by the leader as a rehearsal. Rehearsal is the practice of the vision, learning everything they can about the vision. Upon becoming comfortable in rehearsal, the leader must openly perform the vision. Performance brings a dream to life; however, performance has no value without the attending audience. The organizational audience views the performance while feeling empowered to mimic the performance. Organizational mimicking of the performance serves as a starting point for transformation to a higher state of consciousness, becoming, as Senge [8] describes, a learning organization.

Bellevue, Nebraska is the third largest city in the state. Eight years ago, Jerry Ryan made his first run for Bellevue Mayor winning an election against a popular mayor. Bellevue’s population in 1998 was about 29,000. Improvements in transportation, cost of housing and housing developments, and growth in retail and commercial ventures has caused an explosion in population to almost 50,000 with an extended sphere of services into not yet annexed developments of an additional population of about 15,000.

In the May 2006 primary, Mayor Ryan [9] ran against a field of opponents. Mayor Ryan ran on the ideal that Bellevue has reached a size that requires a full time mayor devoted to the city. Opponents, all in their seventies, do not share his view. Mayor Ryan won the majority of primary votes telling the city his vision. In interview with Mayor Ryan, he expressed how hard it is to run a city of 50,000 part-time. “Citizens think I run the city. They are not aware that it is the City Council that approves all action. And, the City Council doesn’t want a full time mayor,” said Ryan in interview. “If there is one thing I’ve failed to do,” said Ryan, “is adequately share my thinking and vision within the council.”

In the “One City – One School District” battle in Omaha, the school district argued that incorporation of suburban districts into Omaha would create a broader tax base, allow for creation of magnet schools throughout the district, and more equitably share resources. Senator Chambers, in support of LB1024, argued that schools already segregated would have more administrative control over their districts to create educational opportunities for racially distinct schools by racially distinct administrators. Opposition to LB1024 was high before its passing, the Governor faced strong opposition for signing it, the Attorney General believes it is in violation of federal law and unconstitutional and Omaha’s most famous citizen, Warren Buffet, expressed his strong opposition.

Senator Chambers is the only African-American state senator who is controversial and outspoken. Many of his claims include racially provocative statements against police, school administrators, teachers, and fellow senators. By contrast, to Mayor Ryan, Senator Chambers does not appear to have a vision based on strategic thinking. Senator Chambers’ term in the Unicameral ends in 2008 and he cannot run again because of imposed term limits.

Morgan [10] offers some thoughts on social construction of reality. What he writes is people have images of themselves and these images unfold into their reality. Two leaders identified thus far have diversely different views of reality. One holds a vision of what can be for the city while the other fights against change using deeply entrenched assumptions of the power of others to shape events.

Another person, a division head of a large First Data Corporation region [11], offered some insight into strategic thinking and being visionary. In an impromptu interview, she held that having a focus on what is possible helped her rise within a company at a time when it was having serious leadership troubles. When everyone else was seeking safety, she sought innovation-providing direction when it appeared there was none. Her member services region is the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. She said, “I thrive on chaos. When things look the most confused, I see my division diversified, flattened, with empowered subordinate managers.”

Our dialogue continued on chaos with Kim conceding she manages chaos within set organizational plans and policies. This lead to her admission that she is more ordered in her expectations and spends more time planning than thinking and creating vision.

Strategic Planning

Hill and Jones [12] discuss strategic planning with the same cautions of Davis [13]. One concept of planning is doing so under uncertainties. In life and business, the only certain is uncertainty. Organizations cannot plan for the future because it is unpredictable. Another consideration is planning cannot be a top-management function alone. This “ivory tower” planning may result in senior leaders thinking in a vacuum, being enthusiastic about a plan and having no operational realities. Finally, strategic planning often suffers because planners have a short-range view of the current environment missing the dynamics of the competitive environment.

Mintzberg, et al devotes a section to “Planning’s Unplanned Troubles.” They explain that planning establishes inflexibility. They support the assertion presented above with the fallacy of predetermination. This fallacy says organizations are able to predict the direction of their environment, are able to exercise control over the environment, “or simply to assume its stability.” “Because analysis is not synthesis, strategic planning has never been strategy making.”

Reverse course a little, planning is not a bad thing when used in cohort with strategic thinking and visionary leadership. It is applying the controlling element strategy to planning that causes problems. Morgan argues in favor of plans and planning when created in a visionary framework that can evolve as circumstances change. What they insinuate in relating the tail of the “Strategic Termites” is unpredictability of organizational structure. An organization’s leader does not need a strategic plan to impose order. Order, like in a termite colony, emerges in an evolutionary way. Planning is not guided by plans rather by a sense of know what the organization wants to ultimately achieve. Ideas, action, and events occur separately but self-organizing yet apparently disorganized groups of termites seize the opportunity to initiate change.

The Future Depends On It

Seeing the future depends on foresight. Having a future view and strategically thinking of the future creates a new paradigm, part of the paradoxes already discussed. One old paradigm suggests future thought as a prediction and development of plans based on the prediction. Making plans establishes policy necessary to reach the predicted future. When the predictions fail to materialize an organization scrambles to recover. Another paradigm is the invention of the future. This means people both construe and become constrained by the structures they enact and change through practice. Gaspar [7] refers to the work of Mintzberg, et al, saying the old paradigms do not work in future thinking organizations. She tells us we must integrate a strategy that includes patterns and perspectives with planning and positioning.

Take a view of American companies 100 years ago. Of the top 12 companies 100 years ago, ten dealt in selling commodities. Today, of the top 12 U.S. companies, three deal in commodities. The remaining nine companies deal in services, manufacturing, and high technology [14]. The only thing certain is change and business leaders must learn to cope with it in order to manage it. Coping with change and managing it mean businesses can profit from it. The future of business is knowledge driven. Countries must be smart, companies must be smart, and people must be smart.

Countries, companies, and people must be equally smart at the same time. To win the future game, each of the three must anticipate and adapt to change in order to manage it effectively. Mayor Ryan admitted that government is slow to change. By example, he cited the city council established a steering committee to investigate whether the city needed to spend money for computers in the mayor’s office. The city has a web presence but the city council did not adopt an intra- and inter-city email system until the steering committee received confirmation from surrounding cities of their system usage. The mayor is 72; by contrast, the average age of the city council is about 63. Mayor Ryan recognizes the value of technology and aggressively seeks younger citizens to enter city government. He hopes forward thinking younger people will drive the risk adverse council toward active and aggressive risk management.

Senator Chambers is the longest serving Senator in the Nebraska Unicameral. He is 69 years old and suffered racial slurs and isolation from fellow senators when he took office. Slurs and threats, chalked on his capitol office door, remain and he considers these a badge. He does not appear on the senate floor in suit and tie. He wears blue jeans and sweat shirts in protest to conformity. However, Senator Chambers seems to exist in an era when racism and segregation were the norm. He rarely seeks coalition with other senators preferring to be a voice of defiance [15].

These two leaders view the future differently. While one hopes to achieve the future by recruiting younger forward thinking people into the political system, the other remains rooted in the past. Neither manages the future proactively but approach the future based on present and past experiences not through information seeking, strategic thinking, and visionary mental modeling.


This paper discussed strategy, strategic thinking and vision making, planning, and the future. These are not separate activities although the discussion presents them individually. By recognizing the Lorenz Attractor as a spiral of interacting parts of an organization, one can also find this model fits a non-linear process of thinking, vision, and planning. Seeing the future as an evolving present helps leaders comprehend that rigid policies based on formalized strategic plans inhibit response to change.

Strategic thinking and vision creation suggests that leaders continually test their mental model with new thinking and questioning – progressively looping thinking, vision, and new information into new thinking. This cycle process allows leaders to anticipate disruptions in the business cycle. Leaders who question themselves asking, “what if …” know “what if …” These leaders are future seeking and organizations employing these leaders are future seeking learning organizations prepared to change before change occurs.

This paper does not deny the value of planning as part of a strategic process. However, rigid planning that does not calculate the shifting horizon of organizational development leaves the company questioning, “What happened,” rather than “what’s happening.”

Foresight allows for strategic management, forecasting and positioning of an organization. The outcome from foresight in business is the anticipated future becoming an inevitable future.


1. Gates, B. (1996). The Road Ahead. New York: Penguin Books.

2. Taylor, J., Wacker, W. with Means, H. (2000). The Visionary’s Handbook: Nine Paradoxes that will Shape the Future of Your Business. New Youk: Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc.

3. Holy Bible. New International Version. Bible Online. Retrieved from

4. Sanders, T. I. (1998). Strategic Thinking and the New Science: Planning in the midst of chaos, complexity, and change. New York: The Free Press.

5. Mintzberg, M. Ahlstrand, B. & Lampel, J. (1998). Strategy Safari: A guided tour through the wilds of strategic Management. New York: The Free Press.

6. Gaspar, J. (2005, August 21-24). Corporate foresight – an attempt to listen to the voices futures’ generations in the strategy making process. Future Studies Department, Corvinus University of Budapest. Retrieved June 15, 2006 from‘judit%20gaspar%20corporate%20foresight’

7. J. Ryan (personal communication, April 28, 2006) in discussion of mayoral leadership strategy in a metropolitan community.

8. Senge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York: Currency and Doubleday.

9. Morgan, G. (1993). Imaginization: The Art of Creative Management. Newbury Park: Sage Publishing, Inc.

10. Hill, C. W. L. & Jones, G. R. (1998). Strategic Management: An integrated approach. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

11. Davis, S. (1996). Future Perfect. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

12. Ong Teck Mong, T. (2006, May 7). Anticipating and Managing Change: The Key to Future Success. Asian Institute of Management 37th Commencement Ceremonies. Retrieved June 16, 2006 from [].

13. Ernie Chambers. (2006). Wikipedia. Retrieved May 31, 2006 from [].

14. Blackman, D. A. and Henderson, S. (2004). How foresight creates unforeseen futures: the role of doubting. Futures, 36. 253-266.

15. Johnson, T. A. (2000). An Intellectual and Political Biography of Nebraska State Senator Ernest Chambers: Activist, Statesman, and Humanist, 1937-. Plains Humanities Alliance: Events. Retrieved May 31, 2006 from []

16. Nadler, D. A. and Tushman, M. L. (1997). Competing by Design: The Power of Organizational Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press.

17. Somasegar (No First Name) (2006, January 21). Strategic Thinking. Retrieved June 2, 2006 from

A Tool For the Future – Assumption-Based Planning

The future is one of the most fascinating and talked about subjects today. You can see the future being practiced on a daily basis as people plan events and develop business ventures in a global dimension. Understanding the future is no longer achieved by performing magic or reading someone’s palm but is now recognized as a social science that can be identified as Strategic Foresight, Futures’ Studies, and Futuring (just to name a few), and becoming instrumental in developing new concepts and ideas in the fields of nanotechnology, neurotechnology, biotechnology, and electronics technology for the future.

One of the tools derived from strategic foresight or planning is called Assumption-Based Planning (ABP). This tool can be used to help people and planners from all walks of life recognize and incorporate assumptions in a plan during times of great uncertainty.  James Dewar defines ABP as, “a tool designed for improving the robustness and adaptability of plans-reducing the number of avoidable surprises in any plan or planning.” You may be asking yourself at this moment how assumption-based planning can accommodate you for your future? The key is in knowing how to recognize assumptions through creative thinking and include the assumptions in your plans to avoid surprises that could destroy your plans. This article will demonstrate how assumption-based planning can become a tool to circumvent the element of surprise and utilize creative thinking and planning in the development of your own ABP.


Origination of ABP

The Rand Corporation developed the ABP in 1990 to assist the US Army in trend-based planning. James A. Dewar explains that the ABP is a “post-planning” tool (recognizing that planning is an iterative process) that concentrates on the assumption that there are possibilities in which a plan can fail; preparing for alternatives that affect an already-developed plan. “Specifically, the ABP works to decrease the risks that assumptions represent.” ABP originated as a five-step plan defining ways on how a plan could fail. Dewar maps the assumptions below.


Step 1 – Load-bearing and vulnerable assumptions – Load-bearing assumption is like a load-bearing beam; pull it out and the roof caves in. Vulnerable assumption is one that could fail within the expected lifetime of the plan. Both of these assumptions can resort to an alternative plan.

Step 2 – In a broken assumption, the hedging action prepares the planner for failure. 

Step 3 – Signposts – warning signs that can be used to monitor assumptions that are mostly likely to produce surprises.

Step 4 – Shaping actions – help the assumptions play out to the planners’ satisfaction.

Step 5 – Hedging actions – prepares the planner for the possibility that the assumption will fail despite efforts to secure it.


Today’s global leaders need to consider the ever changing global environment and incorporate assumptions into their strategic foresight planning. On a personal basis, parents and children can learn to develop an ABP utilizing Dewar’s model, which can prepare them in creating and incorporating assumptions in the development of a futures’ plan for their activities, events, and their future. On a personal dimension, let’s visualize how an ABP can be applied to a family reunion event.


Forecasting a Family Plan Using an ABP

Let’s take the ABP into a personal level utilizing the imagination and creative abilities of the family members who will plan a family reunion. Imagine your family is planning a family reunion one year from today’s date. This is the plan; you incorporate assumptions into your post plan to develop a plan that ‘might’ meet the satisfaction of the family. Here are the assumptions:

  • Consider the family members that need to ask for time off from employers, which employers may not grant.
  • Consider travel costs over a person’s budget.
  • Consider the additional expenses each family will incur in case an unexpected emergency occurs and cancels their travel plans.
  • Consider the donations needed from each family to cover expenses for reunion and family member unable to supply. Will you pick up their tab?
  • Consider the possibility of some family members cancelling at the last minute.
  • Consider family members that do not contribute their part financially and need to be confronted.
  • Consider if hotel accommodations do meet with standards of family members.
  • Consider if reunion plans do not accommodate all age groups.
  • Consider any health or meal restrictions.
  • Consider available health professionals locale in case of emergency.
  • Consider activities for children and adults.

I believe you are seeing the picture of an ABP. It is taking all possible, probable causes and creating assumptive behaviors and/or actions that could alter a strategic foresight plan.  If you write out Dewar’s model, and you are a visual learner, the model can be converted into a visible table that can benefit both planner and family member. Taking the location as part of the assumptive process, the ABP helps identify the ‘what if’s’ to the reunion’s ABP. Consider some of the assumptions in the example below: 

  • Load-bearing vulnerable – Location provides for indoor and outdoor events
  • Broken assumptions – Location is vulnerable to inclement weather and power outages
  • Sign-Post – Family reads reviews of previous customers
  • Shaping Actions – Family asks location manager to guarantee generator in case of power outage.
  • Hedging Actions – Family makes back-up generator reservation in case with 24-hour cancellation allowance.


People use the ABP on a daily bases and do not realize the creative abilities involved in the assumptions’ process. From the personal spectrum to the corporate environment, the ABP is an adaptable instrument that can benefit those who utilize the plan. Regardless of the structure of a leadership environment, whether top to bottom initiatives or flat, leaders, corporate executives, and everyday people can adapt the ABP process into their daily agenda. Cornish wrote about the lessons learned from great explorers such as Lewis and Clark, for example, in his book. He mentioned how these famous explorers used maps and ‘hearsay’ about the territory to develop their expedition. There may have been a prototype of an ABP in their plans which allowed them to consider assumptions and work around failures to successfully complete their ventures. Whatever the case may be, they were able to succeed and accomplish the task set before them.

Can an ABP tool work for you? Do you have the ability and imagination to interject assumptive planning into your daily agendas, work plans, strategic plans? The Book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11 in the Old Testament states, “For I know the plans that I ‘have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope…” If we can draw inspiration that our plans can be successful, then tools such as the ABP can help us make our dreams come true. I like to compare the ABP to an apple, you can count the seeds in an apple but can you count the apples that will come from the seeds when they are planted and produce fruit? Creativity and imagination will forge the future of successful planning instruments.

Cell Phones – Some Considerations of the Cell Phone of the Future

Cell phone technology has been moving forward at break neck speed, and sometimes we may not notice it, but think back to just a few years ago and you can see all the new feature integration and race in the marketplace – a race to “wow” consumers and get them to choose a specific device. But before we talk about the current trends in cell phones and smart phones, let’s discuss the past evolution of these devices.

Since, I had one of the first mobile “cell” phones – I’d like to tell you a quick story to start out this discussion.

My first cell phones were state-of-the-art at the time, but if you saw them today, you’d laugh. One of them I actually kept; a Mitsubishi Transportable. This phone is about the size of a six pack cooler that you might take to your child’s soccer game, and it was quite heavy, as I recall it is well over 10 pounds. This of course included the battery pack to power up to 3 Watt phone.

Remember that Ion-lithium batteries at the time were just coming off the assembly lines and were quite expensive – they did not exist in this size for anything but NASA and military usage. These original cell phones I had were nickel hydride powered, quite an inferior battery technology for modern cell phones.

The Mitsubishi Cell Phone has a strap on it so you can carry it like a purse, and I often felt really stupid carrying it, until of course it rang, and I unzipped the top, pulled out the handset on the phone and began talking. I can recall that everyone stared as if I was a secret CIA agent, was working for MI6, and my name wasn’t Lance, it was really James Bond. You see, at that time not very many people had the cell phones and they were very expensive.

Another one of my first phones was a Audiovox 1000 model, which was quite large and it was mounted in my car, a car phone – cell phone. The box that ran the Cell Phone was mounted under the seat, and there was a cradle that held the headset. The headset had a cord on it just like a phone at home, before the cordless phones that is. Under the seat the box was about 3 1/2 inches high and the size of a laptop with a 17.1 inch screen.

This Cell Phone or car cell phone was wired directly to the battery with a couple of fuses. When I turned on the vehicle, the Cell Phone would automatically turn on. If I turned off the vehicle, I had to leave it on accessory with the key in the right position, unless I left the phone on which by-passed the ignition. When the phone rang and actually honked the horn, which got me into trouble a couple of times when the horn went off while I was driving behind a police car stopped at an intersection. I have a lot of stories to tell you about all those early days with the first cell phones, and you may e-mail me if you are ever interested in such experiences.

Folks today take all this for granted, as they don’t realize how cumbersome the original cell phones were, or how stupid they were compared to modern day smart cell phones. Today they give you a free cell phone when you sign up for service – back then you had to pay $1000 for a car cell phone, and as much as a couple hundred dollars to have it installed. It was quite a procedure, if you have a stereo system, and an XM radio put in your car at the same time, that is about how much work it took to do this. Therefore, at today’s labor rates you could easily pay three or $400. That’s definitely something to think about.

If I was talking to someone on the phone while the engine was running, if I turned off the car and moved the key to the accessory position I would dump the phone call, as I cut it out during that transition. However, having a cell phone in my car helped me increase my business. At the time I was only 17 years old – I had an aircraft brokerage firm and aircraft finder’s service and I would work off of fees whenever an aircraft that I represented sold. I also had a small aircraft cleaning service and was able to contact customers from my vehicle on the flight line, and my crews could call me when they were done with the job as they would use the local payphone to call me.

Thus, this mobile technology allowed me to make more money, and remain more efficient than the competition. Remember at the time this was leading edge technology, it was state-of-the-art, and I had it – the competition did not. No longer was I stuck in an office, I could run my business from anywhere and it allowed me much freedom. Often people today do not realize what it was like before mobile cell phones. Anyone who is in business now over the age of 50 certainly realizes, because they remember a time when there were no cell phones.

This was a period in our nation’s history where there were pay phones in every shopping center, every gas station, outside of every fast food restaurant, and people used them all the time. Business People who didn’t smoke filled their ashtrays with coins so they can stop and use the pay phone. Thus, allowing them to call clients, customers, vendors, and maintain their operations in the office. When cell phones first came into play they displaced the old Motorola technology of push to talk phones, which worked off a mountaintop repeaters, these phones were very big in the military, construction industry, and all the executives with large corporations had them.

Since this was radio technology, they worked farther than the first cell phones which had to be within 10 to 15 miles of a cell tower. Today, the cell phones are less wattage than they were back then, so the average cell tower is 6 miles or less apart. Back then the cell phones worked off three Watts, and now with 3G technology the wattage is under 1 W. This is probably good for the human biosystem, as it is putting less microwave frequency radiation into your brain, there will be fewer brain tumors, brain cancer, and other issues. There have been many studies including several with the Swiss researchers which seemed to indicate that the 3 W phones were quite unacceptable for human health, and they would slowly cook your brain as one researcher said.

Luckily, for the cell phone industry they were able to bury most of these problems and objections, as well as the studies that the Swiss did. Although, there were studies here in the United States, you would be hard-pressed to find those research studies and data on brain tumors, brain cancer, and their relation to the cell phones that people used. In fact, if you go to Google Scholar today you will be hard-pressed to find anything that would suggest that the cell phones could cause such horrible conditions. This of course is all still up for debate, but we try not to talk about it.

Perhaps, by going to 3G wireless, and lower wattage the mobile cell phone industry dodged a bullet of huge class-action lawsuits, and we may never know the damage we had caused. Nevertheless, as we talk about Six Sigma efficiency in corporations, or using modern management techniques in small businesses, no one can deny that increasing communication speed and reliability is by far a factor in the increase productivity in the 80s and 90s due to cell phones.

At the time I was literally running 1000 to 1200 minutes per month and although that service was much cheaper than the other choices such as the Iridium Satellite Phones, non-cell phone mobile units, as they did not use cell towers, rather satellites – you can imagine the costs of the original cells. They did not have an unlimited plan and once over your minutes, you paid the premium for each minute on that cell phone, my bill was usually $500 to 800 or more.

The other mobile phones at the time were not cell tower-based phones, they were push-to-talk and came in a brief case – it was considered quite James Bond at the time. And this was back in the 1970s, and I remember this, because I started my business when I was 12 years old washing airplanes at the local airport. Many of the businessmen who owned corporate jets had these types of phones. They were basically for the rich and famous, and business person. They didn’t work everywhere and you had to have pretty much line of sight to the nearest tall mountain, and that mountain had to have a repeater on top of it, which was hardwired into telephone lines, and the rest of the system worked with ground lines.

All this is very interesting, and we must consider that many folks today have never been alive when there were no cell phones. They have no clue how hard it was to run a business back in the days when there really was no mobile communication. The same repeater systems on top of the mountains that Motorola owned or which used Motorola hardware, also controlled the pagers. These pager systems were quite popular with people on call, such as doctors, and service personnel. Two-way radios, which work basically the same as the two-way push to talk briefcase phones, were used through a dispatcher for companies very often.

Later, just as cell phones came into play, someone came up with the idea of 1.5 way and two-way pagers. Instead of a one-way pager, someone who had what they call an “alpha mate” device could page someone and ask them a question (using a text message) on that page and the recipient could press a button for yes or no, Y. or N. and that information would be relayed to the dispatcher. People actually got pretty good at communicating this way. And you could send text type messages for the user of the pager to read. In reality these were the first text type messages, so the concept of having a mobile device and using text messaging is not all that new.

Two-way text messaging via cell phones is merely a re-introduction of that similar technology. Once people had cell phones they didn’t need to use the text pagers anymore, and that technology was leapfrogged as the price of the cell phone services was lower, as competition increased between companies like Sprint and AT&T. There were many other regional smaller players, but they eventually got bought up by the big boys.

The cell phone industry grew so fast in the late 80s and early 90s, that eventually there was coverage everywhere. Then something really weird happened, the promise of 3G wireless came into play, and folks started switching to that new system. I can tell you this – my first cell phones were much more powerful and worked much better than the cell phones of today.

Occasionally, I had a call dropped and there were not as many service areas, yes there were more dead zones, but the signal was much more powerful because it was 3 W, and since it ran off my car battery or a large battery pack in a small carry case, it had ample power to maintain that strong signal.

Today, when I use my AT&T cell phone, I am often cursing because the service is so bad, I wonder why I am even paying for it. In fact, the loss of productivity from dead zones, and the cell phone calls dropping, I feel as if AT&T should be paying me. Apparently, I am not alone many people feel the same way. Nevertheless, the 4G wireless is on the way and everyone will be switching to that so that they will have Internet access allowing them to do e-mails, twitter, video, and real-time text messaging without the use of ground lines

A good many folks do not know of a time when there was no email or internet. And most people who are in business today, who are under 50 years old do not remember a time when we didn’t have fax machines, the reality is that fax machines came into play about the time of the first cell phones. Mind you, there was still no Internet, no e-mail, and although ARPANET was being used by the military, and by think tanks, research centers, and top universities, it wasn’t really available to the public in the way we have it now.

Fast forward to today and now no one goes anywhere without a cell phone. Social researchers have noted fewer people wearing wrist watches. They don’t need a wristwatch because that is a standard feature on all cell phones now. Of course, this doesn’t help companies like Rolex who are catering to the young up-and-coming BMW crowd, if you look around you will see that most young executives don’t even wear a watch and most of our younger generation doesn’t wear a watch either.

It seems that the wrist-watch replaced the pocket watch, and the cell phones seem to be replacing just about everything. These days people use their cell phone or smart phones to do their e-mails, and these same phones act like a PDA, no one carries day planners anymore, although a few people do, myself included perhaps out of habit from using a day planner from the time I was 12 years old in my business until I was in my mid-40s. Perhaps, I am giving away my age, but sometimes old habits die hard.

Today with many laptop notebooks, PDAs, and smart phones, it seems none of that other stuff is needed. Including your human memory say many psychologists, who argue that this technology is causing the human brain to rewire itself differently because there are different needs to get along in the world. After all, all your best friends are on the speed dial and you don’t have to remember phone numbers anymore. And all your contacts and information is on your smart phone, in your e-mail program, or on your laptop.

Cyber security analysts worry that if the system crashes or God forbid an electro-magnetic pulse, neutron bomb, or nuclear device is set off high in the atmosphere it could destroy all the electronic equipment, including all the cell towers, your laptop, your television, your refrigerator, and your smart phone. Where will you be then, and can you rely on your memory and the brain you are born with to carry on your daily endeavors – scary thinking, but perhaps we need to address this as we consider the evolution of cell phones.

Today, our cell phones have changed the entire dynamics of our society. There are unspoken etiquette issues of cell phone use in public. There are rules when we can use our cell phones and when we can’t. Issues such as driving with a cell phone and the number of auto deaths which occur while people are driving and talking on the phone at the same time. There have been major disasters caused by texting while driving a bus or conducting a train.

The reality is that as our technology has evolved, it is evolving much faster than the human brain can to take it all in. Due to the multitasking required in our society to get along and the high pace and productivity that jobs require, many brains cannot cope or adapt fast enough. And this seems to be a problem, if some people are not able to make the switch, but they attempt to, sometimes while driving with disastrous results.

Our smart phones are becoming super cell phones that have more and more features, such as the ability to store music like the iPod, and vast amounts of data like our electronic PDAs. These devices are getting more high-tech each and every year and they are feature rich. Many have five to ten gigabytes of information storage now. One recent study in the cell phone industry noted that 90% of the people who own cell phones have never used all the features, and do not know how to program them, or even that they exist on their cell phone. Most people don’t even care, they use the features they want and none of the others.

This is a common problem with new technologies, and it is something that happened with that Beta and VHS recorders. What’s that old joke, there are tons of features on your video recorder at home, but no one knows how to use them, and before we all learned that we need to learn to use these features, the VHS video recorder is out in the new DVDs are here. Now cable companies offer boxes which can record multiple shows so you can watch later or pause a live TV program while you go to the bathroom, or go to the kitchen to get something to eat. Some allow you to use your cell phone to do remote programming too.

These are all things common challenges which are encountered and similar problems with any new personal tech devices which become mass consumer products. Cell phones and our current smart phones are no exception. It’s hard to say the future what types of new features in our cell phones will have. The sky is the limit, and the imagination and demand for more features and greater technology is readily apparent. The early adopters of such cell phone and smart phone technologies are willing to spend big bucks to have all-in-one devices. Therefore, these trends will continue.

Just to give you an example of some of the crazy ideas people come up with for future smart phones let me tell you a little quick story.

Our on-line Think Tank came up with a plan to produce a PhD or Personal Health Device, which tracks your diet – on your cell phone. How it worked was quite simple, when you are at the grocery store, you would scan all the items that you bought, and they would go into storage inside your smart phone. Each time you ate one of those items you would simply select what you ate, and punch in the number of servings and you would calculate and keep track of your calories, fat content, and recommended daily allowances in the major five food groups.

The smart phone would have a scanner system on it, later subsequent versions of this smart phone and personal health device would be able to scan products via RFID tags. Your phone could tabulate and even recommend what you should eat, how many more miles you should jog, and what you would need to maintain your diet to meet your personal health goals, and weight loss program. Sounds crazy doesn’t it, yes, it does, but the venture capitalists like the idea. So too, do companies that produce high tech smart phones today, as everyone is looking to get a jump on the competition.

GPS systems by way of smart phones or cellular high-tech phones is quite possible (now available), and you don’t even need satellites to do it. If you are within the realm of several cell towers your location can be triangulated quite quickly, which pinpoints your exact location within 10 feet. Ah ha, you see the problem in this too; What about privacy you ask? That’s a good point and that is another issue that people are quite concerned about with all this new high-tech personal smart phone innovations.

Google Phone and social networking connections appear to be on horizon. That is to say, linking your smart phone with all of your social networking friends, but apparently Google got into a little bit of a problem and noted that many people are not ready for that just yet. In fact, many people who are friends on social networks and make connections, have no intention of ever meeting these people in real life, and therefore they aren’t really friends. And since you don’t really know anything about those connections or friends on your social networking site, the last thing you want them to do is know exactly where you are within 10 feet.

That should appear to be obvious, and in the future it may not be such a big deal, but people are still a little paranoid and they like to have their privacy. Meanwhile, we read more and more articles about social networking gone bad. That is to say people using social networks to stalk other people, and this also concerns parents who have teenagers, who use social networks on a daily basis, and some that use them on an hourly basis, and a good many who seem to be texting every few minutes.

One recent study of cell phone users was able to have a 93% predictability of where a person might be based on the patterns determined by their cell phone, and when it was connected to any given local cell tower. The study found that most people stay within 6 miles of their homes. These patterns of predictability are a reality in our society and how we operate as individuals – nevertheless this brings up all types of issues that have attracted the attention of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, and it also touches on the issue of privacy and paranoia, it catches people off guard.

Then there is the new trend with smart mobs using their smart phones, and having fun with and meeting up in various places all at the same time. Although these schemes are used for fun, entertainment, and socializing, these same types of smart mobs have the power to destabilize a society or civilization. Consider if you will the use of technology in Tiananmen Square – should governments be worried about your smart phone technology, or the future of 4G wireless cell phones? They probably should be concerned with it, especially if it is used by a foreign government to provide mass protests against what would be a normal stabile government.

In other words it has uses in warfare, the CIA, in bringing down corrupt regimes which are enemies to United States. But rest assured – the same thing could happen in the United States where perhaps a communist rogue nation state decided to have protests in the United States in our major cities on Mayday. It could easily happen especially with our own technology being used against us, due to all the interconnectivity that it offers.

  1. Does this mean that our government has to find a way to turn off all the cell phones in case of something like this happening?
  2. Do they need a device to turn off certain cell phones from the system, while leaving first responders cell phones activated for communication?
  3. And what about hackers, which might be able to send out tens of thousands of bogus text messages, or call masses of people into a trap, or stage a riot?

These are all questions we need to answer and we need to understand that the same technology we create to improve our productivity, our society, and help us in our daily lives with our families and friends can also be used against us.

And what happens when our smart phones become smarter than us? Some believe, as I do, that they already have. Most of the smart phones today have artificial intelligence systems within them, for instance a text messaging program which guesstimates which keys you are going to press next or what you are trying to say and it offers you suggest is so you can fill in the blank. Making your texting very quick. This is very similar technology that Google uses when doing a search and offer suggestions as you are typing to save you time. This is just one form of artificial intelligence in our smart phones and cell phones today.

There are many cell phones that allow you to use speech recognition to dial phone numbers, search your databases, or navigate the screens on your cell phone. The newest smart phones will be able to tell you when you are in proximity to a Starbucks and then give you GPS directions to find that location. This has big implications for retailers, advertisers, and consumers alike. They will begin to know your patterns and habits. All these technologies are available now and we will see them in the near future. Your cell phone will even become a payment device, hooked to your credit card information. All this technology exists today.

But what about the technologies which are just over the horizon?

We’ve recently seen at Comdex and CES shows the first generations of projection cell phones, that is to say video conference enabled cell phones which allow you to project to the other party onto the nearest wall or onto a table so you can watch. This will obviously be followed by the Holographic cell phones, which were similar to those that we saw in the Star Wars trilogy.

All these things will be available in the next five years, and you will most likely have them if you buy one of the high-tech cell phones in the near future. At first these technologies will cost a lot extra, but those prices will come down as the number of units built goes up and as more Chinese also purchase their first cell phone, adding another billion people who own such devices, therefore bringing the cost down for everyone – significantly!

By the year 2025 your cell phone will be a brain chip inside of your head, and you can think that you’d like to contact someone and it will dial the number and contact them. By 2050 you will be able to do thought transfer via the small devices, brain implant – perhaps smaller than a dime. And people born after that will never know what time were “thought transfer” did not exist, just like right now there are many people who have never known a time when mobile phones didn’t exist. And since Moore’s law also seems to apply to the cell phone and smart phone industries we can expect a size reduction as well as a power reduction to run this technology.

In other words, your biosystem will be able to power up your brain cell phone chip, just as it does your current human brain which works on about a maximum of 20 W. of energy, and you will be able to have an eyelid screen, so you can close one eye, and surf the Internet. It’s hard to say what the Comdex and CES Show in Las Vegas in the year 2025 will look like, it is probably impossible to pinpoint what these shows will look like in the year 2050. In fact, there may not be shows at all, you may be able to experience these trade shows in your holographic living room, video gaming center.

Walking the virtual halls of the trade show using your avatar and talking to other avatars explaining all the new technologies that are available for you might be the new reality albeit an Augmented or fully Virtual Reality. That appears to be where we are going, although it’s hard to imagine considering where we are today. Nevertheless, I can assure you people in the 1950s could not really have imagined the way in which our smart cell phones have evolved in the present period.

Currently, there seems to be a very big push in the larger cities like Atlanta and Dallas, Los Angeles and Seattle, Boston and New York, Miami and Houston towards the 4G wireless, obviously this will continue. That is the full broadband Internet surfing on your smart phone, the ability to watch TV while driving in a car on your cell phone. And next comes the ability to project that TV onto any screen or flat surface that is nearby or available. The technology is getting more robust, it’s getting smaller, it’s getting smarter, and you have to decide how far you want to go with it.

Perhaps, I should write a quick eBook on this topic and explain chapter by chapter, the evolution of this ominous communication technology, and the future of smart phone personal tech devices. Let me know if you know any interested potential co-authors.

At the current pace we are moving, and at the speed in which we are interfacing with the Internet, social networks, e-mail, and television, it’s hard to say exactly what you will be carrying around in the future in your purse or pocket, but I daresay it will be something that is truly incredible, and in the next 10 years it will be hardly imaginable from this point in time to know exactly what it will be, or what it might be able to do. I hope you will please consider all this. And contact me if you’d like to discuss this further at the Online Think Tank.

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