The work of Executive Arts began in 1979 when Jim Ewing committed himself to working on his inner passion: facilitating individuals who were striving to express their talents and commitments as fully as possible. The 'Executive' in Executive Arts refers to the character within each of us who has the ability to choose a new path for our self. We might call it our will, our inner leader, guide or other appellation. In industry where Jim spent his career, it is the executive level where the strategic decisions are formed, made and directed. Good executives are called on to break corporate habits, take the bet on new technology or markets, make the call, restructure, and inspire the population of managers and workers to abandon some or much of what they know how to do and set off on an uncertain, unfolding course, with not much certitude. So it is in ourselves. The Executive within must be capable of managing the inner call to a new direction, rewrite self history to include the new direction, direct the unlearning and learning and redesign from an idea or urge through possibility into achievement.
This is an Art more than a science. Hence Executive Arts. Just as there are Martial Arts, which are ultimately personal and empowering, so there are Executive Arts.
The Executive Arts embrace learning, design and transition/transformation as one life giving process, rather than three separate processes which are commonly compartmentalised in the world, especially in industry.
The Executive Arts are taught through a family of disciplines. Each is based on the core insight that creative motion on the path of learning, design and transformation begins with hints, clues, guesses, slips of the tongue, unknowing and making it up. In other words, in the shadows rather than in the known. Each provides a process for generating such material and for capturing it in a way which is later transformed to reveal patterns which open the door to discovery and creative testing. The disciplines require both spatial and linear thinking in equal measure, calling on the whole person. The disciplines require both real life experience and making it up, putting the new as something built on the useful past.
The Executive Arts disciplines have been worked out with hundreds of individuals and organisational groups. They are succinct, unique, powerful to get to 'answers', and more powerful when taken as a learning path to a different insight about the world.
Jim consulted with and taught his methods widely, and collaborated with a small group of like-minded professionals to broaden access to these Arts in the world.
In July 2014, Jim passed away after a long illness. Jim was a friend, colleague and inspiration for many years, and he will be greatly missed. His work lives on through Executive Arts Ltd, of which the ForthRoad team are founding members.
Max Boisot was a Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Birmingham, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Sol Snider Center, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He held an MSc in Management from M.I.T. as well as a Doctorate in Technology Transfer from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London University. From 1984 to 1989 he was Dean and Director of the China-EC Management program, the first MBA programme to be run in the People's Republic of China in Beijing. The program has today evolved into the China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai. In 1994 he set up the Euro-Arab Management School in Granada, Spain for the EU Commission.
He carried out consultancy and training assignments for a number of multi-national firms – most recently BP Exploration, GEC-Alsthom, Thomson CFS, UBS - in the field of international management and technology strategy. His research in association with the Wharton Business School involved building a simulation model of knowledge flows within and between organisations.
In addition to his China experience, Max taught in Japan, the US, Hong Kong, South Africa, the Middle East, Russia and France. He was the author of Information Space: a framework for analyzing learning in organizations, institutions and cultures (1995, Routledge), Knowledge Assets: securing competitive advantage in the information economy (1998, Oxford University Press), which was awarded the Ansoff Prize for Strategy in 2000, and Explorations in Information-Space; Knowledge, Actors and Firms (2007, Oxford University Press). He also published numerous research articles.
Max sadly passed away on the 7th September 2011. We were privileged to work with Max over a number of years, and continue to be inspired by the legacy of his work.
INTERNATIONAL FUTURES FORUM
These are powerful times. The scale of global interconnectivity and interdependence has resulted in a step change in the complexity, uncertainty and speed of change in today's operating environment.
Many of the concepts we used to rely on to make sense of our world no longer have traction. In many respects we are experiencing a conceptual emergency.
In response, organisations are adopting familiar strategies: intensifying standard processes, strengthening the centre, sticking to core competencies, prioritising short-term results, promising only what can be delivered.
IFF believes these defensive approaches are necessary but not sufficient. They serve survival rather than aspiration. IFF was established in 2001 to respond to this diagnosis - a diverse, international network of deeply informed experts tasked with restoring the capacity for effective action in the face of complex and unprecedented challenges.
Visit the IFF website to accept their invitation to grow and learn.