Jim is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, affiliated with leading academic institutions and think tanks, author of Ecosynomics (2014), and co-author of Managing from Clarity (2001). He has written many articles on systemic strategy for academic and practitioner journals, and blogs regularly at jlrd.me. He has a BS in Petroleum Engineering from UTulsa, an MIM from Thunderbird, an MBA from ESADE, a PhD in Decision Sciences from UTAustin, a postdoc in system dynamics and organizational studies from MIT, and a postdoc in psychology and Langer mindfulness from Harvard.
Slightly Longer Bio
As a pactoecographer, mapping the social topography of the planet, I study, work with, and teach about the agreements that guide human interactions and that are critical in change processes. My work focuses on understanding human agreements as systems, developing strategy from a systems perspective, and fostering collaborative, systems-change processes. My books Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources and Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance describe the frameworks and processes my colleagues and I have applied in 100s of initiatives, from global networks to small organizations, in dozens of countries on 6 continents.
My research through the Institute for Strategic Clarity includes survey data from 125 countries and field data across industries in 39 countries, finding strong correlations in the degree to which organizations are more “vibrant” versus “normal,” their social impact, value generated, employee and customer experience and engagement, organizational structures and processes, and core ontological assumptions.
I find that the problem with most agreements is that you don’t see them. They just are. Most often you aren’t aware that what is happening around you is based on an agreement that you could potentially change. It seems that life is ‘just that way.’ This is why you have many of the unpleasant, energy-depleting experiences you have, often resulting in poor outcomes. You are accepting a set of agreements that you do not want, and it seems that you have no choice in the matter. Whether it is in your job, a team, your friends, your family, a group at church, the monetary system, or national politics, you are engaging in a set of agreements, whether you realize it or not. Sometimes they work, resulting in great experiences and outcomes, and sometimes they do not.
What I envision
Looking out twenty years, I believe a completely different set of agreements can exist among all peoples, agreements in which people can strive towards their own deeper potential. I believe that we will look back to 2020 as a time when the work of a few began to support the emergence of this new set of agreements, in critical, high-leverage ways, and that our work played a key role in that work. It will have been through the “naming” of the foundations of the new agreements, what we now call ecosynomics, that people began to identify what they were learning and to connect with each other in support of the new agreements.