Remember 80’s television star MacGyver? No, we’re not talking about the mullet. Or the rugged jawline. We’re talking about his uncanny ability to get out of peril with a paper clip, a gum wrapper, and a fuzzy ball of pocket lint.
With just the most basic resources, MacGyver could produce ingenious answers to almost any challenge. His magic problem-solving helped avert life-or-death crises again and again, until his name has become synonymous with creative genius. And that’s what we remember, and admire.
People are capable of brilliant solutions that make the most of what’s at hand. Humanity needs these brilliant solutions, because we live in a world increasingly filled with complex and daunting challenges that shift, converge, and entwine in unpredictable ways.
Spiraling healthcare costs. Failing education. Spreading epidemics. Global climate change. Population growth. Deforestation. Water access. Peak oil. Pollution. War. Hunger. Poverty. Most of us feel helpless in the face of these challenges. We keep our heads down and hope the experts have a grip on things. Secretly, we fear they’re as clueless as we feel.
We face a crisis of ingenuity. There’s a gap between our need for breakthrough solutions and our supply. This ingenuity gap is what keeps us from rising to the challenges we face. The good news is, ingenuity is our birthright. We too have MacGyver’s genius within us. We’re sitting on top of a gold mine of untapped human potential.
That’s where we come in. At Future, the new rapid ingenuity firm from John Bielenberg, Greg Galle, and Dave Viotti, our mission is to unleash the ingenuity of people, teams, and organizations to accelerate positive change.
Future Blitz, a rapid cycle of design and leadership practices. By helping people be bold, get out, think wrong, make stuff, bet small, and move fast, we can quickly close the ingenuity gap. Each step in the process removes the barriers that keep us from realizing our own ingenious potential—barriers like fear, embarrassment, greed, prejudice, and bias. At Future, we bring these 6 core practices to life for our clients and the teams and organizations they lead.
The 6 core practices of rapid ingenuity
Be Bold: Be clear about your aspirations and what stands in the way–that’s where you start, where your ingenuity is needed most. Are you thinking big enough? Aiming high enough? What is keeping you from your highest dreams?
Get Out: Look, listen, and learn from the people and places where you want to create positive change. Expose yourself to new ideas, thoughts, places, and perspectives–the best ideas are born in the field, not in the conference room.
Think Wrong: Escape the biases, orthodoxies, and assumptions that reinforce the status quo. Embrace serendipity. Generate fresh new starting points for ingenious solutions.
Make Stuff: Learn by doing what you can never learn by discussing. You can quickly get into trouble with all talk and no action.
Bet Small: Start with small experiments that you can learn from. What worked? What didn’t work? What would make it better?
Move Fast: Fail fast, consolidate wins, and make new bets to keep improving.
Blitzing unlocks different kinds of ingenuity, too. Every sector and industry has its own potential to contribute, from technical to social. That’s why each blitz brings a medley of people into the room. We seek as much variety as possible, so we can apply more kinds of ingenuity to every challenge. Non-profit, foundation, school, individual, or business—we all benefit from the resources and solutions that emerge when we unlock diverse sources of ingenuity.
In the long-term, leaders must also be prepared to cultivate ingenuity within their organizations. Ingenuity flourishes best when it’s well-guided. Individuals, teams, organizations, and leaders must work together to create a culture of ingenuity. By helping leaders fear less, get real, think game on, and lift everyone up, we help ingenious organizations thrive.
The 4 ingenuity leadership practices
Fear Less: Experiment. Make mistakes. Learn. Try again. Resilience and a growth mindset are essential for success. Great leaders and organizations master these qualities. Fail fast. Consolidate wins. Drive forward.
Get Real: Discover your best self—your inner resources, strengths and limits. Develop your authentic leadership. Pay attention. Lead with purpose. The path to becoming a transformative leader starts with knowing yourself.
Game On: Understand what accelerates your success and what stands in the way of it. Navigate status and power relationships to disrupt the status quo. Build trust. Gain allies for the change you want to lead.
Lift Up: Bring out the best in the people and organizations you lead. Connect them to a larger story, a higher purpose—and the positive change you can create together. Help them be part of something bigger than themselves.
Our vision: millions of people across the globe putting their ingenuity to work on today’s social, economic, and ecological challenges. And that’s what it will take to overcome the daunting challenges facing mankind.
It’s time to jump the ingenuity gap. The sooner we get there, the better—there's no time to waste. Let’s make MacGyver proud.
Future is a rapid ingenuity firm located in Half Moon Bay, CA. Join us next at Compostmodern 2013: Resilience on March 22-23. All images courtesy of Future.