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Five Regions of the Future: Preparing Your Business for Tomorrow's Technology Revolution Hardcover – 2 Jun 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (2 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840893
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,018,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
The Super tech region receives more media coverage than all the other regions combined, because it has the longest history and it is so dramatic and so optimistic. Read the first page
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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
All of us have a bias when it comes to technology and the future. One of the great strengths of this book is that it makes each reader aware of her or his bias and provides perspective on other dimensions that limit or encourage future technology development. Do we see technology as unbounded . . . or creating new problems that threaten to overwhelm us? Do we see the race with population and pollution as unwinnable . . . or as easily won? Do we look at the giant technologies . . . or do we look for what is small and beautifully efficient? With the expanded view of all these points of view, the wise technologist or executive can choose more promising directions.
I see this book as an applied example of the kind of scenario-based thinking, except as applied to the social forces that influence technology development, that can be so valuable.
If you only read one book about developing technology this year, I recommend this one!
It's hard for most of us to see the positives and negatives about potential technologies and their developments at the same time. We naturally tend to focus on one or a few elements of the potential. With this wonderful book (and the quiz inside), we can graduate to the rounded perspective that we need to make the most of technological potential. With this approach, I predict great things for the people of the world!
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By Andy c on 26 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting take of how clustering innovation around five core themes can create synergy and focus. It is easy to read with some good examples.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 5 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although subtitled "Preparing your business for tomorrow's technology revolution", I did not find this book to be particularly business-orientated. Its content is basically a series of extrapolations on possible future technologies and societies; more for general interest than commercial planning, and highly readable.

As other reviewers have said, completing the quiz gives the reader an idea of where his/her own 'TechnEcological' preferences lie. This is not term implying a fusion of technology and nature conservation, although such themes do feature heavily - the portmaneau TechnEcology describes an holistic interdependent system of technologies. Five potential future TechnEcologies are explored: using a statement of the main principles for each, examples of currently-developing techs which fit those principles, and speculative accounts of life in the year 2050 if such techs dominate.

1) Super Tech: "big is beautiful," the most standard sci-fi future of fusion power, mile-high mega-cities, flying cars and a massive space program.

2) Limits Tech: "efficiency is beautiful," a world of omnipresent sustainability, recycling, energy conservation, clean transport and ecosystem restoration.

3) Local Tech: "small & local is beautiful," a world where almost all power generation, manufacturing and agriculture are done at the small-scale community level - highly advanced but not metropolitian.

4) Nature Tech: "nature is beautiful," a world of tree-cities, living organic airships and DNA computing, in which biological processes have largely replaced mechanical ones.

5) Human Tech: "we are beautiful," in which technology maximises the physical and mental potential of human beings.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Those who have already read Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future, already know that Barker is one of the most insightful and eloquent business thinkers in our time. Years ago, Peter Drucker suggested that one of the greatest challenges for any organization is to manage the consequences and implications of a future which has already occurred. I agree. However, I also agree with Barker that it is possible to recognize what he calls a "paradigm shift": a major change of the rules and regulations that establish or define boundaries, a change which suggests that new behavior will be required within those redefined boundaries.
One of the most important concepts in Paradigms is what Barker calls "paradigm pliancy": "the purposeful seeking out of new ways of doing things. It is an active behavior in which you challenge your paradigms [ie the status quo, assumptions and premises] by asking the Paradigm Shift Question: What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but if it could be done, would fundamentally change my business?" This is a question which must be asked...and then answered correctly, especially given the fact that competitors may be doing so now or will do so in the near future. I again recall Wayne Gretzky’s response when asked to explain his great success playing hockey: “Everyone knows where the puck is. I see where it will be.” Barker does a brilliant job of explaining both how to “change the rules of the game” or at least recognize when such change is underway and then respond to it effectively.
In Five Regions of the Future which Barker co-authored with Scott Erickson, the focus is on “a geography of technology so that we can better map our future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
How to frame the new "fearful symetry" 9 Feb. 2006
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Those who have already read Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future, already know that Barker is one of the most insightful and eloquent business thinkers in our time. Years ago, Peter Drucker suggested that one of the greatest challenges for any organization is to manage the consequences and implications of a future which has already occurred. I agree. However, I also agree with Barker that it is possible to recognize what he calls a "paradigm shift": a major change of the rules and regulations that establish or define boundaries, a change which suggests that new behavior will be required within those redefined boundaries.

One of the most important concepts in Paradigms is what Barker calls "paradigm pliancy": "the purposeful seeking out of new ways of doing things. It is an active behavior in which you challenge your paradigms [ie the status quo, assumptions and premises] by asking the Paradigm Shift Question: What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but if it could be done, would fundamentally change my business?" This is a question which must be asked...and then answered correctly, especially given the fact that competitors may be doing so now or will do so in the near future. I again recall Wayne Gretzky's response when asked to explain his great success playing hockey: "Everyone knows where the puck is. I see where it will be." Barker does a brilliant job of explaining both how to "change the rules of the game" or at least recognize when such change is underway and then respond to it effectively.

In Five Regions of the Future which Barker co-authored with Scott Erickson, the focus is on "a geography of technology so that we can better map our future. Just like locating our towns and cities on a physical map of the world, we need to locate, on some kind of conceptual map, the blizzard of new products and processes that are appearing [and will continue to appear] so we can better understand this `brave new world' of technology." The reference to a "conceptual map" is especially appropriate because Barker and Erickson are introducing what I view as a new business discipline: cartology of paradynamic transformation. (Yes, I realize that it's a bit of a mouthful but, at this moment, I can't come up with anything better.) I am curious to know what would happen if senior managers in an organization were to read this book in combination with Kaplan and Norton's Book Strategy Maps in which they explain how to "convert intangible assets into tangible outcomes," and then formulated a game plan based on the core principles in each of the two books.

Barker and Erickson carefully organize their material within six chapters as they provide and explain what they characterize as "a new paradigm for understanding the development of all technology." I was especially interested in their observation that "the world is witnessing the birth of technological ecosystems constructed of human-made elements instead of biological elements." They identify five TechnEcologies which have evolved during the past 100 years since the advent of the mass production of automobiles and steel. What are TechnEcologies? They are "the inevitable result of accumulating discoveries, inventions, and innovations of human beings." Each is a complex ecosystem of technology made up of the tools and techniques invented by humans "that interact in both mutualistic and competitive manners to increase the variety of technologies and the complexity of interaction."

According to Barker and Erickson, they can place almost any example of technology into one of the five regions of the future once they know the technology's dominant purpose or function. The nature of each of the five is revealed by the answers to these four value questions:

1. What is the region's attitude toward material wealth?

2. What is the region's view of science and technology?

3. How does the region view its relationship with nature?

4. Finally, what is the region's view of work and leisure?

If I understand their primary objective (and I may not), Barker and Erickson see themselves as 21st explorers who are attempting to define the future of technology just as Lewis and Clark once set out to define the vast and uncertain land west of the Mississippi River. "In the twenty-first century, we need a more sophisticated way to catalog and describe our technology. We think the five regions offer that. As citizens of this new world, we all need to begin to think more systematically. The five regions methodology invites that. Our technologies are bigger than our nations. We need to understand the consequences of that."

Barker and Erickson conclude with a passage from a poem which William Blake wrote 200 years ago. His metaphor for technology was the tiger "burning bright/In the forests of the night." Now, another quite different "tiger" burns even brighter. Here's mankind's challenge: How to frame its "fearful symmetry"? And what will be the consequences if we don't? In this context, I am reminded of Robert Oppenheimer's reaction when the first atomic bomb was detonated more than 60 years ago. He immediately recalled a line from the Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God): "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

Those who share my high regard for this brilliant book are urged to check out Kaplan and Norton's The Strategy-Focused Organization as well as their Strategy Maps. Also two books by Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, and, Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence; and finally, for now, Frans Johansson's The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures. I truly envy those who have not as yet read any one of them. What an intellectual feast awaits them!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A great "future view" of technology... 25 July 2005
By Cathy M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. The value of The Five Regions is its ability to segment the potential future applications of technology into five distinct areas, which provides for a great deal of clarity and depth. I found the book's content on technology to be especially relevant and useful. The Five Regions Assessment also allowed me to expand my own cognitive horizon on how I tend to see the various technologies in application, while also expanding my vision into new worlds of application. As always, Barker's observations are intertwined with science and research, thereby opening our eyes and our minds to fascinating possibilities. Indeed, the book also left me intrigued. I had a renewed sense of excitement about the future utilization of technology. All in all, this book is written in true Barker style. It is incredibly captivating yet understandable, stimulating, and well worth reading.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A forward-looking vision...if only it can be applied 11 July 2005
By Derek Barncard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Barker's book provides a radical new way of categorizing technology - something we've been without in the modern age. In addition to giving us a series of frameworks on which we can base our decisions about the direction of our future, he illustrates how our current course in the United States is extremely destructive and ultimately unsustainable.If enough people read this, then perhaps our course can be changed for the better.

However, a disclaimer: Although the book title references business, this book is much more about specific technologies and their socio-environmental implications than any business application.

Still, it is a recommended read for anyone who wants to ensure a comfortable, sustainable future for our species.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Splendid Catalog of Furturistic Technologies! 24 July 2005
By Satinder K. Dhiman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a process futurist, Joel Barker is a very familiar name. His earlier book titled "Paradigms," introduced the word paradigm to a wider audience in the business arena. I highly recommend that book to anyone intereted in understanding the nuances of paradigmic change in organizations.

As a splendid catalog of future technologies, I found this new book by Joel Barker very fascinating in its breadth of scope. The last 2 chapters tilted "Human Tech" and "Conclusion" were the most enlightening for me and worth the price of the entire book. Joe's insightful comments on every page are an added bonus. Although, i am familiar with some of the technologies, Joel Barker's treatment of even the most familiar ones is very precise and insightful. Most of the examples were new to me, though.

I marvel at the way the author brings the five regions together with examples in the last chapter. Author's love for the subject matter shows on every page. Indeed, It is a tour de force of a futuristic imagination, as one reviewer aptly put it. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the implications of futuristic technologies.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The future is already there 27 Dec. 2005
By Sven van de Riet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a lot going on in academic and commercial labs that are rather invisible to the ordinary public. The results however have the potential to change our life completely. This book gives a very thorough insight into current developments. And more, it also helps you to imagine how these technologies are being used in the real lives of persons.

We face the unique challenge in the coming years to use new technologies and at the same time take our responsibility towards sustainability of this planet. This books shows a lot of potential in innovative use of materials and processes that makes it possible to make right choices.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in not only new technologies, but also in the impact and actual use.
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