Part-time Parkite’s book ‘Foresight 2030’ is filled with ‘Conversations about the Decade Ahead’
Dolly’s will host a book signing for Douglas S. Griffen
Throughout history philosophers, artists, filmmakers and authors have set their eyes on the future and what it holds.
Part-time Parkite Douglas S. Griffen is no exception. The founder and director of the Arizona-based Advance Strategy Center, a facility that focuses on strategic issues for businesses and other organizations, has published “Foresight 2030: Conversations about the Decade Ahead.”
The book, which Griffen will sign from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on March 17 at Dolly’s Bookstore, is a compilation of discussions, examples, issues and topics that address why 2020-2029 “may be the most consequential decade of our lives,” Griffen said.
Each chapter covers topics such as the future of work, the future of technology, the future of media — information and disinformation — the future of education and what makes the American lifestyle unique, he said.
The idea for the book emerged from an Advance Strategy Center discussion in the early 2000s, according to Griffen.
“I was conducting a session for the Phoenix Business Journal, and it looked back at the most significant events and leaders over the past 25 years in Arizona,” he said. “We assembled a group of business leaders to talk about these events, and I remember distinctly saying, ‘What would it be like to get a set of leaders to talk about the next 25 years in what we might envision and what we might forecast.’”
Griffen filed that idea away and thought about it until 2019.
“I finally thought if I was ever going to write a book about the future, 2020 would be a compelling decade,” he said. “Going into 2020, our premise was that everyone was optimistic. We had great technology, great economics, great lifestyles. So we decided to host some sessions with various leaders who were interested about the future.”
The tenor of these topics changed once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Griffen said.
“It didn’t take long for us to get into some more controversial topics,” he said. “The pandemic and a very contentious presidential election hit, so we got into some topics including the influence of the presidential election and the impact that it might have on the future, and why America, the greatest country on the face of the planet, could become so divided.”
The first session Griffen led was in March 2020 amid the coronavirus shutdowns.
“I wasn’t sure how people would react in their willingness to talk about sensitive topics, but it worked out in a very compelling way,” he said. “The pandemic had accelerated many of our topics, including the implication of virtual technology, remote learning and the change of workforces who were now working from home.”
COVID also served as a fundamental reawakening for many Americans in evaluating what mattered to them the most, Griffen said.
“The priority was no longer work, but the small things that we took for granted, before the pandemic hit,” he said. “That became a powerful theme, and you will see in the book that there are commentary about outdoors, lifesports and family relations that I think are really profound and hope will continue on in the course of the decade.”
The book is not a quick read, but is meant to be “digested and reflected on,” Griffen said.
“It’s a hefty book by design, but it’s meant to slow people down so they can get into the content,” he said.
Griffen, along with his consultants — his son Scott and friend Jim Granger — came up with a unique format to draw in his readers.
He starts each chapter with some of his favorite song lyrics that pertain to the topics, and he adds historical and personal perspectives.
One of the songs that came to Griffen was Buffalo Springfield’s 1966 hit, “For What It’s Worth,” which Stephen Stills wrote after witnessing the Sunset Strip curfew riots in Los Angeles.
“That song is one of the most powerful protest songs in the ’60s generation,” Griffen said. “I was listening to it one day and the images that came to me were about Black Lives Matter, what the ’60s were like and what we were going into. So I decided that opening a chapter with a relevant song and lyrics was an interesting way to get readers to slow down and think about what they are reading.”
Griffen also knew he needed to add some humor to make some of the topics more palatable.
“I tried to make sure there are light reads in certain areas, before bouncing back into some really heavy topics,” he said.
The levity shines in such chapters as “Surveyin’ USA: how American Optimism and Values Changed in 2020/2021,” which was co-written by Griffen and his friend Maury Giles, whom he has known for more than 25 years.
“He’s a gifted journalist, and a really good consultant,” Griffen said. “He lives in Herriman, and he’s a devout Mormon, which is a different personality from me.”
Giles is also the chief growth officer of Heart + Mind Strategies, a consultant team of researchers and strategic planners.
“As I got into my own discussion sessions for the book, his company began their own monthly roundtables that addressed almost the same ideas,” Griffen said. “He would gather business leaders and discuss everything from how they would change their workforce, the pandemic and reinstating trust in the government.”
The two talked and decided to co-author a chapter about how the pandemic impacts American values.
“We would use the surveys from the Heart + Mind Strategies to do that,” Griffen said.
Griffen is proud of the work it took to publish the book, which is available through Amazon.
“From a personal standpoint, there is nothing like being an author because it’s like a badge of honor,” he said. “From a leadership standpoint, the book has allowed me to engage in civil discourse with other leaders about how they are positioning their organizations, workforces and even their families for the next decade. We’re at a point where we are a little unsure about the future. That’s compelling, even though we don’t know which direction it’s going to go. We’re at a tipping point right now. We’re going to watch this really carefully.”
When: 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, March 17
Where: Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St.
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