Sessions overview

Engaging with the future differently – from Pyramids to Pancakes

Closing keynote

Format: Oral presentation 45min | Language: English | Tags: research, design, psychology, social

Speaker: Josephine Green | Speaker and consultant at Beyond 20: 21st century stories

AbstractThe Web and Beyond 2010: Keynote speaker Josephine Green
A worldview based on linearity, industrialism and materialism is now giving way to a new one born out of chaos and complexity, networks and systems thinking. How do we live and work meaningfully in this charged and fluid terrain of the future? International leader in Social Foresight for Strategy and Innovation, Josephine Green, will show us the ways to decentralise and distribute innovation, strategy and design in her keynote: ‘Engaging with the Future Differently — From Pyramids to Pancakes’

Today it is less about mass markets and more about customized and personalized solutions and experiences. This personalization is also based on the fact that people are increasingly moving from the back end to the front end of innovation. Through the new technologies and through the proliferation of social networking sites more and more people are individually and collectively creating their own content, films, videos, music, tastes, reputations etc. Passive consumers are becoming active producers of their own lives. This greater diversity and creativity is underlined by the emerging belief, based on the science of chaos and complexity, that the world is not linear, deterministic and predictable (Pyramid) but on the contrary it is chaotic, non linear and unpredictable — the future is fluid and constantly emerging and transforming (Pancake). Linear thinking is being replaced by systems thinking and by the growing realization that we are not masters of the universe but part of the universe both effecting and being effected by it.

As we journey forward towards a new way of perceiving, of being and of acting in the world, there is a lot of turbulence. New people, new technology, new relationships, new social challenges, new patterns of demand and supply — these and more sometimes threaten to overcome us but there is a way forward. Some of the things we need to address:

  • The need for new organizational cultures and behaviour, and a new way of thinking that is comfortable with letting things happen than about controlling exactly what happens.
  • Fundamental in this transition period from Pyramid to Pancake are the roles of leadership and of leaders. Just as new stories can stimulate us to change so can leaders.
  • Decentralising and distributing Innovation, Strategy and Design in order to release the energy and agility needed to create and invent in the pancake world, both in terms of transformational and incremental innovation.

When we stop controlling complexity through a well-meaning overdose of management and administration and when we start distributing complexity through the system, then we are also distributing power and responsibility, which ultimately is about democratizing our future.

About Josephine

Josephine Green was appointed Senior Director of Trends and Strategy at Philips Design in 1997. She was responsible for research into Society, Cultures and People and pioneered the Strategic Futures Program that helps companies and organizations think about and implement a human focused approach to innovation and growth. She left Philips Design in 2009 to return to the UK.

She promotes new thinking and new knowledge in the specific field of Social Foresight for Strategy and Innovation. Her advocacy in this area is based on the belief that we need different ways of thinking, being and doing if we are to live well, prosper and safeguard the future. “We must not only re-invent our social industries such as health and education but also our lifestyles and even the very growth models on which they are based.” She promotes working in this emerging social space both as an opportunity and as a necessity and sees design and the new technologies as important enablers towards more social and sustainable solutions for the 21st century.

She was born in the United Kingdom and studied History and Politics at Warwick University in England and has lived in England, Italy and the Netherlands. She has consistently helped customers introduce new thinking, design and sustainable development into their culture and processes. Josephine has given many international presentations, and lectures at a number of universities’ masters and executive courses.


  • Visiting Professor at Glamorgan University.
  • Advisory Board of the Glamorgan Business School, Cardiff.
  • Research Consultant at The Glasgow School of Art
  • Senior Advisor at The Young Foundation, London
  • Advisory Group member StraX, Helsinki
  • Expert on a number of European Futures programs
  • Member of the European Professional Women’s Network and The Women’s International Network
  • Advisory Board member of the 20-first

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