I think it would be useful to have a new category of knowledge workers I call “outposters”.7 The outposters conduct research and analysis about possible future scenarios and create “future maps” to help others make informed decisions. These future maps will facilitate directed co- evolution to help groups find a strategic path rather than let evolution take its normal course.
“Facilitated co-evolution” is a term I used for creating planned strategies based on information rather than the haphazard trial-and-error way tools are adopted in the marketplace. I would like to see the people who create the tools also using their tools, analyzing how to improve them, and then modifying the tools. I would like to see knowledge workers examine how their work process might have to change to leverage the possibilities. I would like to see experimentation with new ways of working with new sets of social relations based on information and reflection.
As we pursue significant capability improvement, we need to appreciate that we are trying to affect the evolution of a very large and complex system that has a life and evolutionary dynamic of its own. We should move toward pursuing improvement as a multi-element co-evolution process. In particular, we need to give explicit attention to the co-evolution of what I call “tool systems” and “human systems,” which are cultural practices, organizational structures, reward systems, etc. If we co-evolve these systems as we develop new tools, and reflect on how we can improve the infrastructure, together we can increase our capability. If we then add a systematic approach to sharing knowledge, we can also improve our ability to solve problems and boost our collective IQ.
7 The idea of ‘outposters’ became popular among think tanks and futurists in the 1990s.