Martin Börjesson – seeing structures in the complex

I am something as odd as a creative analyst. My strongest driving forces lies in trying to understand the whole and find structures and images which can be used as tools for navigation in a world which is inherently complex and difficult to understand.

Together with my wife Pernilla and my daughter Tilda, I live downtown Göteborg and in summer time on the lively island of Dyrön. A huge part of my knowledge gathering these days is happening through interaction with my daughter who completely without any restrictions is experiencing the world.

Hacking, philosophy and strategy

With a background as a UNIX hacker and with academic studies in philosophy I was employed by Volvo Data part time. Volvo Data had up to that time not any experience with UNIX operating system or should I say the UNIX culture. As employed by the big company I learned a lot about both the pros and the cons of culture, structure and politics in large organizations. In between I worked for a while for the Swedish Office of Science and Technology in San Francisco, which changed my view about both Sweden, business in general and technology and its ramifications in particular. Well back at Volvo Data I got the position as Technology Watcher, a technology intelligence function, where I could delve into the relation between technology and its effects on organization and the way the work was being done. Through Volvo’s membership in Global Business Network (GBN) I came in contact with scenario thinking – an approach, which suited me perfectly. In this way I by using something close to a method could connect my creative and analytic talents and work with creating complementary images of the future in the purpose of shedding some light of the future but more important current chain of events.

Since a number of years I am related to the Viktoria Institute and participates occasionally in research projects. Usually with scenarios and scenario planning as the connecting idea.

After some more years at Volvo IT and the strategy group at Volvo Cars I took the step and started off as a consulting scenario thinker.

An artificial world – the future is not what is used to be

The central theme in my current thinking concerns our thinking tools and the fact that most of these tools are developed in a world, which basically was a natural world. The role model for most scientific activity is still Science where the goal is to find laws of nature and unfold the mysteries of nature – “how nature works”. I consider our current world in any relevant meaning man-made and almost not natural at all. An artificial world where most of the things we use and come in contact with every day are man-made artefacts and deliberately constructed institutions is very different from a natural one. The natural world, which was out there and against which we had to struggle for our lives, has changed. Instead of defending ourselves against dangerous animals or extremely long and cold winters our enemies now are the risks with a collapsed social welfare systems or changing market conditions which could render us unemployed. The difference from a natural world lies in that we are the engineers of the social welfare system and we together with many others is the market and our choices is the market conditions. We will never again be able to claim that we are innocent for most of the things that happens to our planet or us anymore.

To be able to successfully live on a complex world with all these self reinforcing effects in several levels we can simply not rely on our tools sprung from Science (or from technology – ars (lat)) but have to invent new methods. In some unorthodox areas like design, simulations, role-playing games and children’s play I believe we can find tools with which we can use for this purpose. Most important of all is the constant conscious participation. In a world almost free from any laws of nature of you have to be alert at all times.

Role-playing games and simulation has been a passion of mine since many years and from that perspective I can see many possible ways of understand and navigating in a complex and self-reinforcing world.

What are my strengths?

I am quick in grasping complex problems and works well as a strategic discussion partner and driver of strategic processes. Facilitation and supporting scenario processes belongs to my specialities, but other kinds of strategic discussions and vision processes are common.

My creative side makes me a skilled challenger in strategic processes but also other development processes. The more structured parts of me make me good at finding the essence in strategic discussions. My academic connection gives me a broad base to stand on, especially in the areas of philosophy and strategy.

A large part of my working life I’ve spent in the borderland between the industry and the academy. I have grown to understand, live in and navigate in that landscape which, hidden from most, is full of contradictions and misunderstandings.