Nordic Track Book Club Review: The Visionary’s Handbook

I’ve been on a Doc Searls kick these days and wanted to read Cluetrain Manifesto, but for some reason I pulled Watts Whacker off the bookshelf instead. The short of it is that I am WAAAAY over Watts. I like to say the name, but I doubt I’ll pick up another Watts Whacker book again. Yet when I finished the Visionary’s Handbook I wasn’t quite over Watts, so I made the mistake of reading through much of the 500 Year Delta. It was then I reached my breaking point. “Make the future live in the present and the present live in the future.” We get it, Watts. 2-out-of-5 stars for Visionary. 1-out-of-5 for 500 Year Delta, which would have gotten a higher rating had I read it first.

Visionary’s Handbook excerpts:

pxiii. Paradoxes: intrinsic worth isn’t; the bigger you are, the smaller you need to be; your biggest competitor is your own view of the future; you’ve got to go for what you can’t expect to get.

p3. Fail to build your own future, and someone is going to build one for you, whether you want it or not.

p7. Intead of looking to the same fixed point on the horizon we need to rewrite the future serially as events change the likelihood of any particular future arriving.

p8. Every collision with chaos is potentially a systematic collision with opportunity, a chance to change, a new start on a life that is always serially starting anew until it ends…Learning to pick out the elevated moments that do matter–the seminal ones–from the ones that don’t is a vital life skill.

p17.  [In the past] there was time, there was space for resolution.  Today the acceleration in the rate of change coupled with the acceleration and massification of input has creatd a state of seemingly permanent paradox.

p22. We prepare for careers that we know will be obsolete.  We have to leave our organizations in order to find the opportunities that will lead to promotion and advancement.

p23. Today, not even a husband and wife have a shared media life, and almost no one has a shared reality.

p29. You can’t look in just one direction: You have to live in both tenses, and to do that you have to make the future live in the present, and the present live in the future.

p33. For a king in a monarchical world, a fool was indispensable.  We tend to think the fool is indispensable for CEOs in a corporate-driven world, but if the concept of the fool bothers you, just think of it as the Opposition box, because this is where you build questioning into your organization, how you live in the present and future.

p34. The more we are certain of the details of the future, the more we are likely to be wrong.  Whatever we expect to be in the future, we must anticipate we won’t be.

p51. Managing value requires that you manage the time the product is most demanded, the time it is least demanded, and the time that its consistely demanded.  Understanding the buying cycles of consumers to manage price margins.

p54. The more you can use information to tie your story into your customer’s story, the greater that value will be.  And the more you can follow the information that flows back from customers to your core competencies, the more likely you are to discover hidden strengths and even new centers of value within your business.

p64. The more mass you have, the more density and weight, the more likely you are to be completely overthrown from the fringe–and the more you need to be.  Great size is great power, but great size is also statis.  Insurgencies start on the edge and overwhelm the center.

p100.  To win consciousness share, the message has to tie the product to the experiences of the consumers you want to reach, so it can enter the full dimensionality of their lives.

p146.  One word for your business.  disney-safety, coke-refreshment, saturn-respect….



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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.