Friday, 2 January 2009

Applied Hope - Reasons to be cheerful in 2009

It's been a turbulent ride in 2008, hasn't it? But I suspect that we've seen nothing yet as our world economies struggle to transition into an era that can no longer ignore big changes in climate, fossil fuel availability and global populations demanding more active economic involvement. As learning and development professionals, we all know how procrastination and inertia puts the brakes  on change at an individual level. Whole industries and economies experience it too and expend tremendous amounts of energy to avoid what's staring them in the face. Leaving it to the last minute is no longer an option: that minute has now passed.

But all is not lost - not by a long shot. All the industries and economies that are experiencing short term pain are already sitting on many of the answers. The most obvious one is the automotive industry. It's ignored big opportunities to reduce the energy efficiency of its products for decades. Cars, trucks and anything on wheels can and should be a lot lighter, aerodynamic and smartly integrated in their design. This alone radically reduces their energy consumption hugely reducing the pressure on demand for oil. The same is also true for construction, drug development, electronics and any other industrial process out there - the opportunities for radical efficiency are just sitting there waiting to be acted upon.

Amory Lovins in the video below removes the final and perceived biggest objection - cost. He puts a very convincing case that focusing on efficiency is hugely profitable.  He should know - check out his resume:

Cofounder and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Amory B. Lovins is a consultant experimental physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford. He has received an Oxford MA (by virtue of being a don), nine honorary doctorates, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (”Alternative Nobel”), World Technology, and TIME Hero for the Planet awards, the Happold Medal, and the Nissan, Shingo, Mitchell, and Onassis Prizes. His work focuses on transforming the hydrocarbon, automobile, real estate, electricity, water, semiconductor, and several other sectors toward advanced resource productivity. He has briefed eighteen heads of state, held several visiting academic chairs, authored or co-authored twenty-nine books and hundreds of papers, and consulted for scores of industries and governments worldwide. Newsweek has praised him as “one of the Western world’s most influential energy thinkers”; and Car magazine ranked him the twenty-second most powerful person in the global automotive industry.

Watch the video presentation above where he spoke at the Entertainment Gathering - the new TED. Stick with it. There are plenty of statistics and concrete examples that show that even without supporting political will positive change is afoot and we have plenty of answers already in front of us. I defy you not to come away feeling that what we are experiencing is a long overdue correction that will yield huge benefits to us all over the next 10 years. 

"Applied Hope" is Lovins neat summation.

Closer to home, I think 2009 heralds a tipping point for more radical change in the way we train and support learning in the workplace and in education as a whole. We have the technology. We have the neuroscience and evidence. We now have the motivation. 

Happy New Year.

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