9 min read

πŸŒ’ S3T Apr 12, 2024 - Between the eclipses, Climate accountability, Robot fish, Halving, De-Grids, Playbooks

πŸŒ’ S3T Apr 12, 2024 - Between the eclipses, Climate accountability, Robot fish, Halving, De-Grids, Playbooks
Photo by Jongsun Lee / Unsplash

Welcome to S3T, the essential newsletter, podcast, and learning platform for change leaders. Hope you enjoyed and celebrated the eclipse this week! Let's review the top developments and insights you need to stay ahead of the curve, build your leadership skills, and drive intentional beneficial innovation.

In this edition of S3T:

Here's a summary of the text in bullet points with emojis:

  • πŸŒ’ Eclipse Experience: Enjoyed viewing the 2024 eclipse using the same goggles from the 2017 eclipse in Cataloochie Valley, NC in close quarters with nature's wonders like elk and the Milky Way.
  • πŸ”„ Reflecting on Changes (2017-2024): The COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of remote work, and advancements in AI and blockchain are prompting new discussions on what leadership and innovation should look like going forward.
  • 🌍 Looking Ahead: When the next solar eclipse comes around in 2026, what will the world look like? Hints: continued crypto adoption, nature-focused robots, global stronger data privacy laws and innovative uses of blockchain in energy sustainability.
  • 🌱 Broader Implications for Leaders: These need for agility and ethical consideration in leadership, has never been more crucial. Three S3T Playbooks provide timely advice.

🎧 Listen to this episode on the S3T Podcast - Be sure to follow the S3T podcast so you never miss a show!

Opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not reflect the official positions of companies or organizations those individuals may be affiliated with. Not financial, investment or legal advice. Authors or guests may hold assets discussed.

πŸ•ΆοΈ Eclipse notes

I took a few minutes to go outside with my family and put on those special viewing goggles. I used the same pair I used when the last eclipse 0ccurred in August 2017.

For that eclipse we camped out with family and friends in Cataloochie Valley - a remote area in western NC known for a population of elk and night skies so dark and clean you can not only see Milky Way and the stars, you feel like you can reach up and touch them. When the eclipse darkened the afternoon skies, the elk emerged from the mountain forests and came out into the meadows like they do in the evenings.

After the eclipse had passed, someone remarked that next eclipse was in 2024, and I remember wondering what the world would be like in 2024.

Reflecting on the period between August 2017 and April 2024, we've seen significant technology and economic events that have shaped industries, societies, and the way we think about innovation and leadership.

A short list:

  1. COVID-19 Pandemic (2019-2021): The pandemic was a pivotal event, accelerating digital transformation, telehealth, remote work, and e-commerce. It challenged leaders to adapt to rapid change, prioritize employee well-being, and rethink business continuity planning.
  2. Rise of Remote Work: Catalyzed by the pandemic, remote and hybrid work models became the norm, prompting a reevaluation of workplace culture, collaboration tools, and digital infrastructure, and sparking debates on work-life balance and geographic disparities in talent distribution.
  3. AI and Machine Learning: GPT-4 and similar models revolutionize how businesses interact with customers, automate processes, and analyze data, prompting discussions on ethics, job displacement, and the future of work.
  4. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Evolution: Despite volatility, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology saw increased adoption and regulation. Innovations like DeFi (Decentralized Finance) and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) offered new ways to think about asset ownership, copyright, and financial systems.
  5. Global Economic Shifts and Challenges: Trade tensions, inflation spikes, and supply chain disruptions prompted companies to rethink globalization. The emphasis shifted towards resilience, localization, and digital twins to mitigate future disruptions.
  6. Sustainability and Climate Change Initiatives: With growing awareness of climate change, there was a significant push towards sustainability in business practices, renewable energy adoption, and green technologies. Leaders faced the challenge of balancing profitability with environmental responsibility.
  7. Space Exploration and Commercialization: The successful launch of missions by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and governmental agencies promises a renewed era of space exploration and commercial space travel.
  8. Applying ethics and more meaningful regulations to emerging tech: As technology permeated every aspect of life, governments and organizations grappled with privacy, security, and ethical issues, leading to new regulations like GDPR enhancements and discussions around AI governance.

The list could also include 5G rollout, first steps in Quantum Computing and others.

It's also interesting to consider the Phases of this period.

  • Pre-pandemic 2017-2020 - During this time the groundwork was being laid for many technologies that would later become essential: AI, 5G, IoT, blockchain and early crypto experimentation, along with a focus on digital transformation for businesses. Remote work technologies emerged but were not widely adopted. The first seeds of AI and data ethics led to GDPR.
  • Pandemic 2020-2022 - adaptation and resilience in the face of the global pandemic, notably the hard shift to remote work, and the radical acceleration of drug development. The pandemic also brought to the forefront the fragility of the globalized supply chain system.
  • Post Pandemic 2022-2024 - the aftermath of the pandemic has brought us an uneven financial recovery, with deceptively positive headline economic numbers, but severe inflation and affordability impacts to families. The world is just now starting to grapple with the incredible acceleration of mental health issues partly driven by the isolation / online existence of so many during the Covid pandemic.

For change leaders, these events underscore the importance of agility, ethical consideration, and the continuous reassessment of business models in the face of rapid technological and economic shifts. Reflecting on these developments can offer valuable lessons in leadership, innovation, and resilience.

The next solar eclipse apparently is scheduled for August 12 2026 - Here's hoping that these next two years will be a little less "interesting" πŸ™‚. But that may be too much to ask.

Bitcoins halving - an important inflation control mechanism that traditional currencies lack - is on target to occur around April 16.

Bitcoin halving events occur about every four years and decrease the rate at which new Bitcoins are created, by cutting in half the rewards for mining new Bitcoins. This process of systematically introducing scarcity is specifically designed to prevent inflation.

Bitcoin's halving process provides an inflation control that traditional government issued currency systems do not have. Coinbase has a handy Bitcoin Halving explainer and countdown clock here.

Data Privacy Win

Maryland has passed some of the strongest data privacy legislation in the nation, marketing a possible turning point in the long pattern of weak and ineffective governance of big tech firms. The bill would go into effect in October 2025 and would force companies to adjust their data collection and handling.

Blockchain & Energy: Decentralized Energy Grids

The energy and sustainability industries are mulling and experimenting with a number of blockchain use cases. Here's a brief timeline of how formalizing of this emerging sector:

This is early and speculative in my view, but definitely something to watch.

Orthogonal but important new piece from EnergyWire: How much power is the crypto industry using?

Nature & robots

Robot fish could help capture water quality data and monitor aquatic biodiversity - and do so in a less disruptive way than today’s methods.

white ice cliff
Photo by Torsten Dederichs / Unsplash

🏭Climate accountability & the definition economic success

2 new developments this week signal a sea change in how companies and governments can be held accountable for the consequences of climate/environmental impacts.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in a landmark case that nations can be held responsible for failing to take protective actions. The ruling sets important legal precedent for European nations, and could influence regulations elsewhere.

In a similar vein the EPA is (finally) cracking down on the amount of toxins that chemical plants are allowed to release into the air, after mounting evidence that people who live within 6 miles of these plants have sharply higher rates of cancer. The measures are expected to reduce these cancer rates by more than 90% and address a key factor in environmental justice.

Both of these scenarios challenge the dominant economic conventional wisdom: that the "economy" had to be allowed to do its thing regardless of impacts to environments or communities.

We are at a very important inflection point.

Rethinking the definition of wealth

Glistening Deepwater raises interesting questions in this paper: Imagine - a future where quality of life and generative ecological values are the measure of wealth.

Here are two excerpts that stood out to me - and speak to the new developments shared above:

  • β€œIn the current β€˜profit-as-the-measure-of-success’ model of planetary governance...[human rights] are routinely violated through the implementation and enforcement of government sanctioned corporate agendas (Sriskandarajah 2015)”
  • "How can those who are willing to preserve and protect life itself, themselves be protected from the intimidating actions of corporate led, military enforceable modes of industrial resource extraction and manufacturing waste production which are currently dominant in our civilisational model?”

Behind these question sit the need to keep on developing our understanding of economics. To enable healthier wealthier communities, we must rethink the things we've been taught about wealth and economics. If you have ever faced individuals or companies who were resisting necessary change under the guise of financial necessity, this is the learning path for you.

As Yanis Varoufakis notes in Economics is Irredeemably Sexist, the central theory of economics, "Homo Economicus", is a fiction invented and perpetuated by 19th century privileged white males steeped in power, privilege and a colonialist world view.

The conventional wisdom on economics we accept and assume to be true to today is plagued with flawed mental models and myths. Learning to recognize these flawed mental models is the first step toward making decisions and setting in motion operating patterns that enable the kinds of outcomes we all say we want.

To begin your learning journey toward effectively advocating for good outcomes, take some time to go through The Evolution of Economics: Understanding the Limits of Conventional Economics, a recent S3T Perspective paper that helps change leaders make decisions that lead to the outcomes we say we want, instead of just perpetuating the same old harms.

By learning to watch for flawed mental models, and learning how to challenge them effectively when working with leaders to make better decisions, we can do our part to enable a healthier wealthier world vs just a healthy wealthy few.

A healthy wealthy world: the S3T point of view

A healthy wealthy world is worthwhile outcome to work toward.

A problem solving mindset that learns and works toward a healthy wealthy world will achieve more good than a pessimistic mindset that retreats into despair, or presumes that things can't get better.

A healthy planet requires healthy ecosystems - natural, social and financial.

Healthy ecosystems require healthy communities.

Healthy communities require healthy individuals.

These are all sets of things that work together and impact each other.

We must combine our individual skills and perspectives into sets of initiatives that effectively address challenges we face, and move us toward a healthy wealthy world. Not just a healthy wealthy few.

Nurturing the health and wealth of individuals, communities, ecosystems and the planet is a high calling that offers an opportunity for every person's diverse gifts and talents.

You are a part of this worthy work. Your daily efforts and alertness make a difference.

S3T Playbooks: 3 timely ways to gain an advantage

S3T Playbooks provide succinct proven strategies for overcoming the toughest challenges face by change leaders. If you are part of a forward thinking organization that is trying to drive beneficial intentional innovation, take advantage of valuable lessons learned.

Finding an actionable GenAI use case - Unfortunately it's not always easy to figure out exactly where and how an emerging technology like AI can be used. Today's overhyped expectations complicate matters further, creating a "why-can't-we-just-do-something" level of desperation among senior leaders.

Detecting and Disabling Accountability Shields - When GenAI or other emerging tech projects do get the green light, teams find they have dependencies on other parts of the organization which may not feel equally accountable for the outcome. How to understand this problem and solve it.

Harmonizing different kinds of expertise in order to win. Getting to successful outcomes with GenAI and other emerging technologies will require expert orchestration of different kinds of expertise. This is different from the traditional command and control delegation to specialists. How to make the switch.

Thank you for reading and sharing S3T!