Wednesday, January 29, 2020

American Rebirth: The New Podcast Series From Steve Brant

America faces multiple crises: climate, economic, political, and sociological... some of which it shares with the rest of the world.

My new "American Rebirth" podcast explores how a Rebirth of the Freedom to Create - which was key to the Founding Father’s success - can enable America to not just regain its former position as "the leader of the free world" but become "the leader of a global transformation"... to a future in which World Peace is finally seen as possible!

This podcast series is being created on the website. But it's also available at Apple podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.  I've produced three episodes so far: 

1. Imagining a Rebirth of America: The Personal Route Out Of Our Crisis
2. The Importance Of Life-Long Learning, Including From "The Crazy Ones"
3.The Most Effective Approach To Planning For Personal & Societal Rebirth

Here's where you can listen to them:
"American Rebirth" on ...
Apple Podcasts

I look forward to hearing your comments!  And t
he next episode will be called "World Peace: I've Got A Plan For That". That's coming soon!

- Steve

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Russ Ackoff & The Power Of Systems Thinking: My Interview With Phyllis Haynes

America is in a crisis, one which actually extends to the rest of the world. It is not the admittedly huge crisis most people hear about: our Environmental Emergency. It is a crisis of how we attempt to solve every crisis we face. 

Russ Ackoff (master of the art of problem solving, systems thinking pioneer, and my friend and mentor for the last 10 years of his life) taught that we learn in school to use analysis to solve our problems. We break problems up into their component parts... find the part that's broken... fix that part... and then think everything will be fine. It's "find and fix the flat tire" thinking.

But society is not a car with a flat tire. While repairing a flat tire may enable you to continue on your journey, America has a bigger problem: It is "driving a car" in a world where cars themselves are now the problem. Put another way, if you were in a car but suddenly needed to cross the Atlantic from NYC to London, you would die if you drove your car into the ocean. You'd need to get out of that car and into a cruise ship or airplane to get there.

Being aware that being in a car, itself, is the problem does not come from using analytic thinking. It comes from using systems thinking (sometimes called design thinking). It comes from a process of asking "Why are things not working? What is the root cause of the problem (or problems)?" And it comes from understanding the basic concept that when things don't work, they don't work because there is a defect... a flaw... in the design of the larger system those things are a part of.

There are many crises in the world today, not just the Environmental Crisis. The one in the news even more than that crisis is our Political Crisis. But in every crisis, the solutions being offered are "fix the flat tire" type solutions. Or - similar to the case of a car polluting too much - they are "replace the internal combustion engine with battery power" solutions. But this is still not systems thinking. It is "replace one part with a better part" thinking.

Russ loved to quote Peter Drucker, his friend and colleague, who said "We are getting better and better at doing the wrong things. The more of this we do, the wronger we get. We must start doing the right things, even if we do them poorly at first." This is true systems / design thinking. It is thinking that leads to developing solutions that are complete breaks from the past: what is referred to as Discontinuous Change.

I am honored that Phyllis Haynes - who interviewed Russ once, in what is a terrific overview of his thinking in about 10 minutes - interviewed me on July 19th. She did this in part because she knows I will be participating in a gathering of Russ's colleagues July 26-28. The purpose of this event is to celebrate his centennial year and to develop the beginnings of a plan to expand his work out beyond those who currently use it. I have submitted a paper for discussion at this gathering, in which I report on what I've been doing since Russ died and what I think is the most effective way to advance the use of his work. If you'd like to read my paper, please write to me and I'll send it to you.

Phyllis and I discussed many things in this 40 minute interview (below). And it follows two more public breakthroughs I've had this year. Both involved suggesting new approaches to significant problems we face: (1) preventing armed conflict (at a UN event organized by the UNA-USA) and (2) giving the public hope that the business community can contribute to society working better (at an event organized by NYU's Stern Business School's Business and Society Program).
Here are links to those two videos:
At the UN.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Phyllis' and my conversation. Thank you again, Phyllis, for this opportunity!

Here's to thinking differently about the challenges we face... and to my late friend and mentor, Russ Ackoff. I miss him a lot.

My interview with Phyllis Haynes:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Mother Earth Partnership Project / My 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship application

I am developing a new initiative - the Mother Earth Partnership Project - and have applied to be a 2019 Roddenberry Foundation Fellow to get the support needed to launch this "next generation" Environmental Protection effort.

The aim of the Mother Earth Partnership Project is to transform the environmental protection movement into one that champions the positive, hopeful world we can have after we prevent the worst case scenarios of the global climate change crisis. My project will accomplish this by teaching how this "post crisis" opportunity can only be seen when the crisis itself is viewed using a whole systems perspective (also known as Systems Thinking / Design Thinking). 

By using Systems Thinking, environmental protection shifts from a process of preventing the many, separate elements of Earth's environment (air, water, plants, animals, sea creatures, etc) from going through catastrophic change to a process of also understanding the partnership role the entire Earth plays now and can play in humanity's future.

This partnership perspective already exists for Indigenous Cultures around the world. But it is missing in the cultures of the industrial nations, where the Earth is treated as a collection of separate "resources" to be used (and, too often, abused). This abusive treatment of Mother Earth has parallels in the history of how men of privilege have treated women throughout history. Fortunately, this domination-based power dynamic is being challenged successfully by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. My project will leverage and support this movement's cultural change goals to achieve a similar goal for the relationship between humanity and Mother Earth.

The use of a whole systems perspective and a shift from domination to partnership will be the two main anchors of the Mother Earth Partnership Project. You can read my application (in PDF form) by visiting the project's Facebook Support Group. Please request to join that group if you would like to follow the future development of this project. Major milestones will also be reported here.

I believe it is absolutely essential that the emotions of hope, love, and adventure be added to the existing (and, of course, justified) fear-based motivation that is the foundation of the current environmental protection movement. Fear is a powerful motivator, but it is an external force that saps our strength. Hope, love, and adventure are also motivators; but they are internal forces that add energy rather than take it away. Viktor Frankl, in his book "Man's Search for Meaning," wrote about how the motivation of wanting to achieve a positive future goal (beyond "not dying") was key in how many survived the Nazi concentration camps.

For those not familiar with the Roddenberry Foundation, it is the result of the desire by Rod Roddenberry (the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) and Heidi Bianca Roddenberry (Rod's wife) to support innovators whose work can potentially impact the world in ways that will bring us closer to Star Trek's vision of humanity a) finally at peace with itself here on Earth and b) using its creativity to explore the galaxy: boldly going where it has gone before.

This vision informed my life at an early age (I watched the original series starting in 1966, when I was eleven years old) and fits perfectly with the science and innovation based vision I learned at age 24, when I first read Buckminster Fuller's book "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth". I will learn if I have made it into round two of the application process on October 23rd. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Only Love Can Save The World: Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, a time for breakthroughs

In honor of what would have been my mother's 98th birthday, I published an essay on the HuffPost sharing my memory of how brave she was when I was ten years old. Seeing the movie "Wonder Woman" caused me to remember this very painful - but extraordinary, given what my Mom did - period in my life. And the film helped me finally understand that it was the depth of my Mom's love for my sister and I that caused her to literally risk her life to do what she did.

I have been thinking a lot about the lesson of the film: "Only love can truly save the world". More on that in a moment, but first this...

While writing this essay was a huge breakthrough for me, the miracle that then happened blew me away! Thanks to the power of social media, Gal Gadot saw my essay and liked it so much that on Sept 12th she shared it on Twitter... adding "There truly is a little Wonder in ALL of us!" 💕

This extraordinary act of generosity on Gal's part follows a connection I've felt with her, Wonder Woman, and her film since last year (when I went to both the Wonder Woman at the UN event in celebration of gender equality and R.I. ComicCon... where I actually got to speak briefly with Gal while getting her autograph). It also builds on the relationship I've had with the entertainment world in general since childhood. 

That world has been my ongoing source of hope and inspiration since I first watched reruns of the Adventures of Superman on TV as a child (along with shows like Sky King, Sea Hunt, and Leave It To Beaver) through the original Star Trek (so many important personal values lessons) and Batman (so much joy on display from those wonderful crime fighters) from ages 11-13 to more recent series like Battlestar Galactica (again, many important value lessons). The number of motion pictures that have helped me think about life are too numerous to mention, but I share a special fondness for the first Superman film with Wonder Woman's director, Patty Jenkins. I loved the sincerity and personal integrity of Christopher Reeve's performance that I posted this video so people could study this key character moment (which is also a commentary on our times)...

I have spent more than 25 years working to champion the advanced problem solving methods I first discovered during my career as an engineering program manager.  And while I had some success within such networks as the American Society for Quality, the Association for Quality & Participation, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, the UN Global Compact, and the 100 Year StarShip project (and even got to experiment with using Star Trek to make organizational strategy development inspirational and fun), my work now has much more heart in it than ever before. I have Wonder Woman (the film) to thank for helping me reach into that forgotten part of myself. And I have Gal Gadot to thank for showing me that my personal story - not just what I've learned from the management gurus I studied with - can make a difference.

At a time when our real world seems headed for an increasingly dangerous, potentially global crisis (not just in how we relate to Mother Earth but in how we relate to Each Other), I have seen many calls for us all to go beyond where we've gone before in our personal efforts to end this crisis and help make the world a better place.

With my newfound awareness of the importance of love in this "getting out of the crisis" equation, I am now working to add that perspective to how people view the innovation-focused, continuous learning and improvement-based philosophies I champion in my writings and talks. There is a "new design for our world" out there waiting to be seen and then implemented. It is a "design" based on a "love of new knowledge", a "love of learning", a "love of asking questions", and a "love of how being human means not being perfect... of loving making mistakes, because they are opportunities to learn and improve". And it is based on a "love of the diverse nature of the human family... a love of the fact that we are NOT all the same... a love of how that means there's a lot to learn from each other's cultures". 

The thinking "science" of such principles as "discontinuous change" (brilliantly presented by Russ Ackoff in his TEDTalk-like presentation) is still critically important...

But I believe now that people will never be comfortable using such thinking "tools" if they still live in a world dominated by fear. Fear leads the masses to follow so-called "strong man" leaders (as Trump claims to be). Love leads us to be open to exploring places we've never been before.... sometimes partnered with people we've never partnered with before.

I believe this new "human social system" design can begin to be marketed and implemented in America first (the land of new beginnings) and spread throughout the world soon afterwards. And I believe the corporate social responsibility movement (AKA the sustainable business community) is the ideal place for this process to begin. I envision a partnership forming that ultimately includes such forward thinking wealthy people as Mike Bloomberg (business), Oprah Winfrey (entertainment), and Bill Gates (philanthropy) ... and mainstream entertainment companies (Disney, Paramount, etc)... but also including entertainment leaders who reach us at a personal level through music, film, sports, and more. Beyonce, Bruce Springfield, Emma Watson, and Tom Hanks are just a few of the names that come to mind.... and the wonderful Gal Gadot! 

As a relatively unknown actor now identified with the values of her Wonder Woman character, Gal now has the potential to be a unique beacon of hope ... an inspirational public voice calling for a future which embodies the broad definition of love I have mentioned above. I believe love of our fellow members of the human family is critical. But I also believe love of the qualities that make us human (curiosity, experimentation, sharing knowledge so as to increase the collective wisdom, etc) is critically important too. And Gal's "brand" has a lot of love in it now, thanks to Wonder Woman! Here's one scene that shows that very well...

I am working to connect with Gal about all this now. (If you believe you can help, please contact me.) And I will be attending the Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in NYC October 12-13. Wish me luck finding people there who are willing to push the frontiers of the sustainable business movement!

Here's to a day when everyone discovers (or rediscovers) that "only love can truly save the world"! 💗

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Announcing The Integrity Day Project

On July 12th, I posted a "work in progress" manifesto on, the site for my new project. I invite you to comment on what I've written. I will post again here at Trimtab Management Systems when the manifesto is complete and has been published elsewhere.

July 12th is sustainability pioneer Buckminster Fuller's birthday and is the day I intend to become a global day of celebration for all things related to transitioning humanity from a scarcity-based, win-lose, cut throat competition, constant war-between-different-cultures social system to a social system based on abundance, everyone-can-win, cooperation (where 1+1=3, 4, or more), and peaceful coexistence and sharing of knowledge between different cultures.

The Integrity Day Project will both celebrate those other, related projects and be an educational project itself. Its educational programs will be offered to the public, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and governments.

The quest for global peace and prosperity has a long history. What isn't commonly known is that breakthroughs in the physical and social sciences over the last 50 years has finally made achieving that quest possible. There is much humanity needs to learn (and to unlearn) to do so, and the mission of the Integrity Day Project will be to facilitate the realization by a critical mass of humanity that this is now true.  "Until the people demand it, their leaders can't give it to them" is an expression that comes to mind. The Integrity Day Project will enable its participants to be the leaders who bring about this transformation!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Steve Brant speaks on World Peace at Rotary International's NYC Club

On April 13, 2017, I had the honor of presenting my work to Rotary International's NYC Club, when I spoke on a Systems Thinking approach to World Peace. 

I want to thank my Rotary sponsor and club board member, Larry Cohen, for making it possible for me to speak at the Rotary Club that's been associated with the UN since the UN was created in 1945.

The main points I made in my 30 minute talk were these:

The world needs a new road map for achieving World Peace, because our current approach - based on mechanical thinking, where fixing broken parts seems to be the way to go - isn't working.

I told why my own life’s story led me at an early age to seek out a better, more peaceful world and led me to begin researching the subject more formally in 1979. 

I explained (with help from a video of Buckminster Fuller) how humanity must break free of the fundamental belief in “scarcity of resources” that is the root cause answer to the question “Why do we fight?”. 

I discussed how Hollywood has an essential role to play in teaching the public (“telling the story”) that scientific advancement now permits humanity to replace scarcity with abundance-based thinking… the kind of macro historic shift explored in historian James Burke’s landmark “The Day the Universe Changed” TV series.

I made the point that this new approach will show the public that sustainable development is about not just healing the relationship between humanity and Mother Earth but healing the relationship between humanity and itself. 

And I ended my talk by referring to Rotary’s “making a difference” theme for 2017-2018, how its history of working to end the threat of polio is analogous to viewing achieving world peace as a global mental “health challenge", and how (in the final film clip I showed) film star Tom Hanks once said that achieving a “power of cooperation” breakthrough - as existed during the Apollo space program - could lead humanity to achieve “the impossible”. 

Here is the video of my talk:

And here are the slides and videos I used:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why Stopping Trump Isn't Enough

This essay was originally published in The Huffington Post on September 26, 2016

 I am writing this to say that -- while the election of Donald Trump would be a disaster for America and the world -- preventing his election is NOT enough.

Yes, America's political system is on fire right now. The truth is going up in smoke. While all politicians have shaded the truth from time to time, just about the only time Donald Trump tells the truth is when he says "My name is Donald Trump." And even then, there's the whole Drumpf-thing.

Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein made this "nonexistent truth" point extraordinarily clear, when he said on Sept 18th on CNN that Trump was getting away with a COVERUP of who he really is... and that the media must stop letting him do this! (Can you spell TrumpGate?)


But there's a larger point I want to make. Stopping Trump will put out the fire that a President Trump would consist of. We CANNOT have a President of the United States who is a pathological liar! But there is a much larger, anti-truth fire burning across the American socio-political landscape... one that's been burning for decades, if you believe the research Al Gore did (and I do) when he wrote The Assault On Reason in 2007.

Whether Trump becomes president or not, we run the risk of this larger, anti-truth fire destroying the social fabric of our country. They say that a problem well understood is a problem well on the way to being solved. Well, here's an essay I wrote in 2010, in which I detailed the problem. I called this anti-truth challenge a virus back then, and urged President Obama to be the nation's "truth doctor". Maybe that will happen after he leaves office. Would certainly be a worthwhile thing for a former-president (and Star Trek fan, by the way) to do... because he could not just help people learn the truth about the Assault on Reason... he could help people learn the truth about How Much Better Society Can Actually Be. That's where his love of Star Trek comes into play.

You see, while there is an "assault on reason" in which people like Trump try to convince us that "up is down" (global climate change was made up by the Chinese) and "good is evil" (America's history of welcoming immigrants must stop); there is also a "coverup" (whether intended or accidental) of the truth about how much better our world could be if we fully implemented the improvements possible in society that have been figured out by the world's leading sustainable science experts (such as McDonough - Braungart and Amory Lovins) and the world's leading win-win based conflict resolution and innovation / collaboration experts (such as the Harvard Project on Negotiation and W. Edwards Deming).

What does this have to do with Star Trek? Well -- if you combine the work of McDonough, Braungart, Lovins, Deming and an number of others (especially including Buckminster Fuller, whose pathbreaking work with Gerard Piel, the Founder of Scientific American, pretty much kicked off the sustainable development movement in the 1960s before the term "sustainable development" even existed) -- you get the beginnings of a pretty clear and detailed road map to WORLD PEACE....

... the kind of world peace Star Trek shows us we can have in the future once we all learn to be excited about diversity instead of afraid of it... and once we figure out that it's possible to feed, clothe, house, and educate everyone on Earth (eliminating scarcity, which is the root cause of war).

Here's Buckminster Fuller talking about this option in a video that also shows astronaut Buzz Aldrin playing The World Game, which Bucky developed to help people learn to solve problems based on the assumption of abundance rather than scarcity...


This is why I say stopping Trump isn't enough. We've got to get the truth out about (a) the larger anti-truth fire that's been burning a long time and (b) the HUGE TRUTH about how much better our world can be thanks to advances in the (hard) sustainability sciences and the (soft) conflict resolution sciences.

What a wonderful world it could be! And once enough people know just how wonderful.... that critical mass of humanity will demand they be given that world by their leaders!

We have the ability to create a world in which everyone can (as Mr. Spock would say) Live Long And Prosper. Let's put out the fires that are burning. And then lets build a new world!