Hope for the Future

Mar 24, 2010

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On March 23rd, my blog post explained that baby boomers, doing their level best to plan for the next 30 years of their life, have many unprecedented challenges on the horizon. It is clear that the experiences of previous generations and the planning models the financial services industry continues to use are obsolete and dangerous.  Those who wish to get the most from the second half of their life need to find new alternatives and approaches. 

This post is dedicated to sharing with you a new form of creative problem solving called ‘Design Thinking’ and then to provide an overview of a powerful new planning tool. This revolutionary and proprietary planning tool is called Futures By Design™. 

What is Design Thinking? 

First and foremost, those who use Design Thinking have discovered how to properly engage the most powerful tool they own… their brain. 

Design Thinking employs the brain’s unique ability to hold multiple, conflicting ideas in tension at the same time. By purposely creating this tension in our mind, the brain uses its neural networking web of interconnectivity to repetitively approach the conflicting issues from many different directions. It is the brain’s determination to resolve this tension that pushes us to work more creatively and prevents us from having to settle for the best selection from a bad lot of potential solutions. 

Unfortunately, the problem solving approaches that we have been taught by our educational system has caused the vast majority of people to unknowingly disengage this creative power of their brain. 

Engaging the Power of Design Thinking

The first step is to create a safe space for you to begin to explore and experiment. You need an environment where you can accept that being wrong is okay; and that is the first step toward discovering what is right. 

The second step is to be willing to ask what might be possible as opposed to seeing the world as it currently is. 

The third and critical step to Design Thinking is to embrace the complexity of the issues we face. Historically, we have been taught to simplify the challenge, divide the problem into separate compartments and then rely upon the guidance of experts to resolve the particular issues they know best. Design Thinking requires that we describe the situation in as much detail as possible. Creative solutions can only arise out of dealing with the complexity of the problem and continuing to view the problem from a holistic perspective. 

The fourth step is to properly model the problem. By building a model which connects the many complex issues, you allow your brain to visualize the entire picture with the benefit of both your eyes and mind’s eye. The goal of the modeling process is to help our brain explore the inter-connections of the many issues in different orders and parcels while the model provides a continual reminder of the overall issue at hand. Design Thinking focuses upon non-linear and multidirectional relationships. This compares to our traditional approach to problem solving, where we have been taught that things have to go together in a specific order. 

Those who use the Design Thinking process realize that they are seeing the world quite differently. They recognize that the existing models and approaches are the best that people have been able to come up with, so far. They are eager to wade into the complexity of the issue. They find that if you are willing to be patient you will be presented with new options, alternatives and directions that were previously being ignored. 

What is Futures By Design? 

I first began developing the modeling software, Futures By Design™, in an effort to help people come to a conclusive answer to the question “Am I Going to be OK?”  This was a great challenge, considering the answer is impossible to achieve until each individual describes their ‘OK’ in detail.  The goal of Futures By Design™ is to assist you in defining your OK. 

As a Financial Advisor for 16 years, I endeavored to help people define their OK in order to ensure their financial plan fit their needs. After multiple attempts and much frustration, it became apparent that people were intimidated by the process of planning a time and a place they had not yet visited.  I recognized that the only way to engage them in describing their OK with associated costs and timelines was to create a step by step process that was quick, easy and fun. It is also necessary to provide assistance along the way and and reminders of the important things people often overlook. 

It also became apparent that the process of planning for the future would quickly become paralyzed when people encountered one of the many obstacles faced in the second half of life and were unable to find a way around it. The need for new, novel approaches to break down these barriers quickly led to the incorporation of all of the fundamental elements of Design Thinking. Therefore, Futures By Design includes the capabilities of: 

  1. Embracing and capturing the complexity of the many issues faced by baby boomers,
  2. Providing a visual modeling to engage the creative process by identifying the many different interconnections between the conflicting issues in tension,
  3. Keeping the process as quick, fun and easy as possible.
  4. Allowing you to incorporate frequent changes of mind, as the explorations of inter-relationships reveals brand new and better ways of accomplishing your goals.
  5. The development of a safe secure environment to begin to quietly explore the options for your future on your own. However, once you had gained the clarity you sought, you would then be able to quickly and comprehensively communicate with others your vision of the future, to engage their assistance.  

Accomplishing this list of requirements was of no small feat. However, I have relied upon the creative power of Design Thinking to overcome these daunting obstacles. I would encourage you to continue reading this blog to get more information on this powerful tool. 

Conclusion 

Futures By Design ™ provides a safe space to explore and experiment with the future you hope to create for yourself. It engages you to think of what might be possible. The picture images created as you design your desired life makes the internet based program fun and easy to use. Yet, at the same time, these images engage the mind in an attempt to identify and reorganize the inter-relationships in order to resolve the tension between competing issues.  

Future posts will provide you with more novel thinking that has arisen as a result of thought leaders employing the power of Design Thinking. 

Design Thinking allows us to see the world differently, listen to others’ ideas more carefully and collaborate with others more productively in order to achieve a better second half of our life than we had imagined.