The Futures & Sensemaking Baker’s Dozen — Twelve+ 2022 Launch Ventures & Experiments of the Grey Swan Guild

Creating Commercial, Community, Educational & Societal Value Through the Grey Swan Guild’s Special Operations F+S Unit.

We are hatching a hothouse of 12+ different ventures and experiments in the Grey Swan Guild and we want you to know about them. Maybe even get involved on the ground floor.

In the true spirit of the member-empowered Guild, a group of 25 committed Guilders have considered and voted on the ventures below as “high potential ideas” from a set of 50 candidates, and we are looking for the best among us to help realize them.

Welcome to the Guild that is not only a thinktank, it’s a do-tank. Let’s explore and get smarter.

2022 Marks a New Guild Chapter — Transforming our Network into a Tangible Value Driver for Its Members,

The Foundation

For the last two years, our Grey Swan Guild has operated as a very rewarding network of thinkers coping together through the shock, reaction, recovery and reimagination of our respective post-COVID worlds.

It’s been magical. In our most recent event somebody called their interactions with our Guild “therapy for the soul”. In another one of our weekly Clubhouses, one of our editors commented it is “the most valuable and interesting time she spends in her week.” Something special is going on here, we are channeling our intellectual Shackletons on a voyage of discovery and comradeship (see your opportunity to join us on our expedition at the bottom of this post).

For a broad spectrum of people (colloquially, our 50 shades of grey members), we have represented alternatively

  • a smart fountain of ideas and learning
  • a strong & intimate community of subject matter pros and
  • a powerful global network tied by a positive purpose, that doesn’t need the right business card to pursue greatness.

We will continue with this undertaking well into the future with our Guild’s four constant values of collaboration, purpose, curiosity and can-do aspiration. From our very organic beginnings, we really have become a productive hive of interests illustrated by the one defining why, six hows and six whats (see visual below).

In our March’21 strategy session with our Board, we recognized a need to address the full spectrum of member-requested value and ambitions.

The world has gone through change phases recently, and so have we. We are different as a group than when we first collided together. Key differences:

  • we are bigger — now close to 2,500 global members — we are no longer the treehouse of 40 people that excitedly rallied around our first Open Forum meeting; a broader expanse of activity needs to appeal to our full range of members
  • we are more organized — things were loose and organic in the early days, we let our mess show and we were okay with that, we may have lost some people along the way who didn’t quite understand what we were doing, but we built that mercurial thing called culture; now we need to deliver what we promise to do and communicate it well, not just dream about it
  • we have bigger aspirations — it doesn’t take long for people to look at our roll call of people that cast their lot as members with us and realize “holy smokes, what could we achieve together?!” — the last 5 people who joined us at the time of this writing — Managing Partner (China), Head of Global Research (Canada), Head of Digital Transformation (Brazil), Digital Futurist (Singapore) and Head of Inclusive Economy (UK) — based on title alone, that is caliber; we have debated over its articulation of value, but we know that our unique combination could be extraordinarily and distinctively valuable for the world.
  • we are happiest when we produce — there have been forces in the Guild aimed at centrally mapping and controlling what we do. Although these efforts were merited, on a very elemental level, our best Guild selves show up when we are actually producing and exhibiting our craft; moving forward, our approach is to build pods of 4, 8, 12, 18 and/or 24 Guild members who want to produce as a group — we have provided the lead options to engage below, perhaps other ventures will come along too.

The Baker’s Dozen of 2022 Guild Ventures and Experiments

As venture architects and leaders, participants and contributors, prospective partners, sponsors and stakeholders and curious onlookers, consider our roster of lead ventures and experiments over the next year.

1. The GSG Book Club — A Flock, Forum & Festival of Smart Authors, Their Works and Insights

What if somebody populated a collective book shelf? Not with any old books but the ones that our wickedly smart members leaned on as sources of important value and insight — the works that have helped them make sense of, and act on the current and future world the best. A kaleidoscopic library of smarts could be built. You may have heard of Goodreads, we want to be smartreads.

And what if we interviewed a number of those same authors for our webcast & podcast? And what if occasionally we celebrated those authors as part of a themed festival? Well that’s the GSG Book Club.

The need: where do the change agents in the world go for their best and freshest inspiration? Serendipity? Word of mouth? Link bait? Let’s build the smartest fountain possible in one place.

Coming to you in early 2022 at the Grey Swan Guild. Read up.

2. The Full Spectrum of Making Sense PEDAGOGY

As per Webster’s, “pedagogy” is defined as the activities of educating or instructing or teaching; activities that impart knowledge or skill; the principles and methods of instruction.

It may seem ambitious but we want to map out all the essential domains of bringing the world into a better, clearer view. Past, current and future. Unknown, semi-certain and well-known worlds. Explore, evaluate, predict. act on and measure. Let’s cover them all in a full spectrum of a “making sense” Pedagogy.

Although our Guild experts are virtuosos in spotting the early signals and understanding the meaning of the shifts, the higher order value is in providing the full expanse of approaches to equip all of us to be better sensemakers, critical thinkers, futurists and strategic planners for life.

The need: “Thinking” disciplines don’t play with each other very well, somebody needs to provide an umbrella “making sense” view, it’s up to us.

Hatching and being sprung on the world in early 2022, navigating the subway map of making sense.

3. The GUILDSTACK — Our Treasure Chest of Best Craft & Intelligence

As of today’s writing, our Guild has 2,300 members, all accomplished and among the world’s best in their professional disciplines. We asked ourselves the ponderous question, what if we asked a small portion of them to pick up the quill and digital quire and produce something that might be the freshest, most interesting thing they produce all year?

Every week, our editors would then curate and combine them into one of the smartest newsletter compilations this side of Scott Galloway, Ed Yong and Maria Popova. That’s what we are thinking, we’re calling it the Guildstack.

The need: One smart author means two-three disciplines covered at most, well-rounded polymaths need a collaborative, multiple author effort to cover off their full expanse of intelligence needs.

Bringing our vault of the world’s best intelligence, a collaborative newsletter that makes sense of the world in early 2022.

4. FUTUREGAZING — Sensemaking & Future Thinking for New Teens, By New Teens

Leasing the Whitney Houston line for our use, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”, we feel compelled to build and lift up our Generation Alphas.

The pandemic has shown us how resilient yet how fragile this young group’s ability to bounce back from pitfalls, be media literate, hold opposable thoughts at once, and wayfind their way to more aspirational futures. Think about a thirteen year old, nearly one fifth of their conscious life has been tremendously impacted by this COVID life interruption.

We want to provide the best role models and resources for tomorrow’s minds to flourish. Unlike other well-meaning but paternalistic approaches, we want to have it be achieved by them, and for them. Who better to empathize with the needs of youth except the youth themselves?

Let’s give them the repertoire of shields and implements to cess out fake news, hopelessness, infodemics, bias and -isms of all sorts, with the best resources at their disposal, translated for 13 & 14 year olds. Our early working title for the effort is Futuregazing.

The need: The most value we could provide is creating a path for the youngest among us to be smarter about the world around them, translated to them beyond institutionalized education, parents or over-controlling causes.

Watch for some of our early forays with, and into, our youngest sensemakers in early 2022.

5. GALLERY OF THOUGHTS — Make Sense of a Messy World Through Visualization

Fact — we live in a multimedia and visual world. Also fact — many brilliant academic concepts are buried inside lengthy research papers and even longer meandering books.

Synthesis -We are missing out on a whole rung of people who neither have the patience, passion or backgrounds to wade through the morass of heavily worded treatises on making sense of the world.

With a tip of the cap to Visual Capitalist, among the top 5,000 websites in the world, who bring to life global business, investment and technology trends in simple, colourful and evidence-based fashion, let’s not make intelligence seekers work so hard.

We contemplated what if we could create our own visualized directory of existing and fresh, new concepts, insights and foresights that advanced our crafts of intelligence and made them more accessible to others. Concept maps, approaches, tools, landscapes, infographics, dashboards, data visuals, funnels, mindmaps, heat maps and interactive charts — all for world good. Now that’s a Gallery of Thoughts we could get behind.

Peer into our new museum of modern intelligence ramping up for 2022.

6. The 2022 Futures & Sensemaking MASTERCLASSES

Months back, we considered the 17 core members of our board and what they were globally recognized and accomplished in, and we tumbled up to 52 eminently teachable topics. Now imagine if we invited the whole guild to participate in helping audiences discover, improve, equip, relearn and unlearn themselves into the future. A powerful thought arose.

By launching a full Masterclass curriculum, users could take advantage of our new university of skills or customize a bespoke set of learning courses. Our initial view is to offer 24 courses in 2022 - the foundational aspects of critical thinking in a digital and accelerated era. After all, what are the top sought-after, future soft skills? World Economic Forum evaluated the top five as : analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, complex problem solving, critical thinking and analysis, creativity, problem solving and initiative. We have passionate and practising leaders in all those areas! Let’s make 1+1 equal more than 2.

The need: The world needs a better, more holistic way of learning how to make sense of the world, not from merely authors and academics, but people who actually put the work into practice.

Look forward to more details about our complexity, change and future-savvy faculty and courses offered in our 2022 Grey Swan Guild Masterclass series.

7. The Making Sense PLAYBOOK — A Collaborative Guide to Approaching Challenges

We have seen and met brilliance in so many different areas of our academic, professional, personal, policy and cause-related lives. But why are they so tribalized? Sensemaking doesn’t play well with agile. Futures thinking doesn’t intersect with scientific method. Facts don’t intermingle with fiction.

The future will be advanced by configuration and multidisciplinary collisions, not by segmenting into our respective lanes. Read David Epstein’s Range argument if you don’t believe us.

Our global Guild collaboration is the right team for putting a compendium together that not only lets the bright stars of thought and intelligence shine but does it within some type of constellation (or framework). We’re calling is a Making Sense Playbook.

The need: most intelligence books go deep and narrow and build specialists, what we really need are the polymathic Davincis and Eratosthenes of current and future thinking. This is white space, the Guild can cover it off.

Early days yet, but this we know — it will be illuminating, colourful and collaborative, aiming for a late 2022 book publication and rollout; we’re currently canvassing for the best multidisciplinary thinkers that just so happen to have a specialized intelligence strength.

8. Sensemaking Sprints — On-Demand Delivery of Essential Guidance for Institutions

There is so much demand for the skills many of our Guild virtuosos have, We can be a SWAT team of intelligence for institutions without equivalence. Using a movie production business model, we can assemble some of the best thinking change agents, future navigators and transformation alchemists in the world. They can flow in, and flow out, offering bolder and broader perspectives. We can do it for much better value, and bespoke customization. That is our argument.

The Guild has all the benefits of a strong and broad global footprint and qualified leading minds at the head of their fieldx, married with the independent, wide-eyed spirit and perspectives to perform your Sensemaking Sprints with speed, quality, depth and value. Let’s blow up the service & consulting model that has been around for 70 years.

We’ve resisted this motive for client engagements with foundations, causes, corporates and governments for awhile, but it’s the #1 thing our core members are interested in, and increasingly something we are being asked to do. Game on.

The need: Organizations are unhappy with their ability to discover, learn and change Why hire the 40th percentile qualified, full time staff person when you can tap into top 3% percentile qualified, when you want them, how you want them, now?

Find out how we can solve your wicked problems or massive challenges through a variety of methods in first quarter 2022.

9. The RADAR COLLECTION — A Series of Reports on your Probable, Possible & Grey Swan Futures

We have already surfaced intelligence across 40 subjects in our two short years as a Guild. Our Guild has an abundance of: keen eyes to spot the early signals of the future, sharp ears to find evidence of the edges and fast brains to turn them into actions for the present.

It’s a rare aptitude for an army of corporate, public and not-for-profit executives often tasked to live and breathe quarter-to-quarter. Instead, our Guild trend sherpas and sentinels can keep the pilot light to the future on inside your company through the most clairvoyant publications.

Consider our recent 1,000 Day Radar event that mined the future spectrum of the following topics: the pandemic and next normal, work and the workplace, environment & climate, media & entertainment, sport & fitness, culture & sociology, home & home life, travel & tourism, entertainment & media, diversity & inclusion, space & exploration, science & progress, technology & digital, business & economics, leadership & purpose, marketplace & customers, health & wellness, life & society, crime & conflict, and arts & fashion.

We have the breadth, depth and length to get ahead of the future. Let’s publish it now as part of our Radar Collection.

The need: A set of publications and provocations to guard against short termism in all facets of your future lives.

Look for our subscription, individual and custom report offering(s) in early 2022.

10. The Grey Swan Network of PODCASTS — Content for the Expanding Mind

The Guild has pulled off 25 large events in its history. We’re getting pretty good at it, even when time frames are crunched.

Our monthly Ateliers pose big questions and engage our leading minds. Our Premieres float new intelligence and discover the undiscoverable patterns. Our Salons find new meaning and open possibilities. Our News Wrap discussions surface rising headlines and important thematic threads.

Instead of producing all this energy for events, a group of us asked, why couldn’t we breathe a little, step back and stage a set of well-produced podcasts that scour intelligence of the future? This Grey Swan Network of Podcasts is born, we’re eager to get on air.

We are looking at four flavours out of the gate —

  • a distinctive Futures Wheel-based performance theatre
  • a big Sensemaking massive challenge approach
  • deeper-than-surface level interviews with authors and
  • an intelligent, collective exploration of intelligence and Grey Swans

The need: A collaborative sets of webcasts, by practitioners for practitioners that improve our craft, futures and sensemaking intelligence.

Look for our first set of episodes to drop in early 2022, the sponsor chase begins shortly thereafter — smart organizations belong with smart minds.

11. WEATHERVANES — Primary & Custom Research With A Different Bent

Ask anybody on a street corner for their opinion and they are likely to give it to you. Ask a global guru and they are likely able to spout creative sparks that may or not be rooted in reality. Both approaches have big blindspots. But what if we could ask the right questions, to a panel of an enlightened group of illuminators, unique in their ability to sense the now and spot the future?

We have already floated four rounds of our own research, principally on the pandemic and its far-reaching implications. We are about to expand our horizons. Whether these insight safaris are planned or custom in the future, we believe we have the right balance of elements to help illuminate the fixable, manageable, unmanageable and unthinkable realities of clients.

Do you have that network and system currently place? If not, consider our Grey Swan Guild Weathervanes, we’ll tell you which way your wind is blowing, and why.

The need: To use Henry Ford’s line “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”; organizations need the modern day equivalent of those people who would have screamed “cars”, we have them.

We’ll be floating Weathervanes #6–11 in 2022 and will be shaking the trees to see which partner and sponsors might want us to double-click on their insight & foresight challenges.

#12 The FUTURES & SENSEMAKING SERIES — Improving Our Craft Together

Meet anybody in the Guild and you will soon realize there is more to them than meets the eye. We network with the leading management consultants and experts in our professional lives, many are great people, talented in many aspects, but often missing that special gene that guild members have.

As a Guild, we are hungry as a group to answer some of the more existential questions in our lives, not just earn revenue. We are also at the vanguard of the importance of purpose in our work and ensuring that our work accommodates planetary and people aspects. We are also on a mission — many of our crafts, despite inordinate value, have not mainstreamed themselves for real life applications —we are driven to make these capabilities core skills, widely applied and accepted. In keeping with the medieval pedigree of Guilds, it may sound polyanna-ish, but we really do want to improve our craft. We’d like to do it together.

Our forums for gathering around the campfire of intelligence are our Grey Swan Futures & Sensemaking Series. We have already hosted/will host such topics as:

  • Why Futures & Foresight Matters?
  • How Tos & Approaches in Sensemaking & Critical Thinking
  • Nurturing Futures & Foresight in a Short Sighted World
  • The Daily Habits of Sensemakers, Critical Thinkers, Change Agents & Liminalists
  • The Whats of Futurism — Explaining, Exploring, Considering, Determining & Quantifying Futures
  • Applied Sensemaking — Knowledge Map, Threat Detect and Opportunity Assess with Situational Awareness
  • Go-To Sources of Inspiration

The need: Elevating the intelligence, change and futures conversation beyond platitudes and getting to shared practice, shifts and paths.

Look forward to our slate of 25 craft-building open events in 2022, and improve your intelligence game, consider partnering with us in the pursuit of excellence.

The Baker’s Dozen Candidates, Other Ideas On Deck:

These other projects are in some state of development:

The Grey Swan Playlist — the smartest music compilation making you smarter

The Young Sensemakers — an international network of thinkers and students under 30

Swancoin — a marriage of cryptocurrency, community contribution and intelligence

XSense Challenge — open forum challenges that source the best co-created solutions that make sense of the world.

Liminalities — video documentary content that explore big shifts in the world

Would you like to build a Sensemaking Snowman? Or a Future Ice Fort? Maybe an Intelligence Igloo?

We’ll apologize for the Frozen mixed metaphors. Come join us as our early intrepid teams involve others to realize their dream projects. You will love it.

Send us a message with any questions about the overall effort or projects above here.

Or go directly to “GO”, and get your name on our roster of venture Swans here.

Apply to be on one of our new ventures or submit your own:

The Grey Swan Venture Spirit

The projects itemized above carry with them potential gains, tangible rewards and incredible extrinsic & intrinsic value. They also carry with them the need for real participation, sweat equity and accountability. Our intelligence swimming pool is refreshing and inviting, let’s just make sure all Venture Swans who decide to participate, also decide to swim.

Grey Swan Guild

Our ongoing mission — Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans

Join as an Official Member / Become a Global Sensemaker

Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢