Reclaiming the Vision of a World That Works

Robert Tucker
May 10, 2022

Robert Tucker

Driving Growth Through Innovation

The other day I heard about a young man who gave up a promising career in corporate America to become a professional gambler. You read that right. Top of his class in college, math whiz, highly regarded "quant" with a major US-based corporation, married with young children. And he heeded the clarion call of Las Vegas.

This young professional might well be following his bliss, but the world needs more talent and vision deployed to bigger and greater challenges. His contribution will be missed.

The Black Plague of the 14th century wiped out half the population of Europe. It also opened up new human potentialities. An acute labor shortage empowered serfs to walk off land they had been tied to for centuries, and seek employment elsewhere. The Plague ended feudalism. Last year, 47 million workers made the decision to quit their jobs to seek something better. To pursue their vision of what life could be.

In tumultuous times, we need new visions more than ever. Without vision the people perish, as the proverb has it. History shows that while we sometimes are unkind to them, visionaries can point the way forward. Maybe it's just me, but today's crop of visionaries, with the exception of Bill Gates, almost singularly fails to inspire.

Mark Zuckerberg wants us to escape the realities of a warring, pandemic-ravished, heating up planet by submerging ourselves in the metaverse. Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. The dominant vision just now among the young is dystopian. How to break the spell and paint a new vision? Where are the visionaries of our time who inspire us - and take us to a higher plane of thought?

Why Bucky Fuller is Boomers’ Favorite Visionary

Like a lot of other people of my generation (I am a boomer), I came of age fascinated by the ideas and inventions of Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983), inventor of the geodesic dome. In the 1960's and '70s, Fuller became a beloved public speaker on college campuses, and around the world. His visions of the future inspired a generation.

Fuller was especially prolific when it came to envisioning how things could be done differently, more efficiently, using fewer resources. After Ford Motor hired Fuller to build one of his geodesic domes over its headquarters building in Dearborn, Michigan, Fuller was suddenly a hot commodity. The military hired him to dome over its defense system outposts. World's Fairs and expositions everywhere went big for "Bucky domes."

His Dymaxion vehicle could turn on a dime and caused traffic jams when introduced in 1933. His Dymaxion homes were billed as the wave of the future. They were to be assembled in factories, transported via blimps, and installed in a single day. Fuller designed flying cars and underwater communities that would be resupplied by submarines. Above it all, new-age communities envisioned by Bucky would float above the clouds like gigantic cruise ships in the sky.

Prolific ideator though he was, most of Bucky's notions never got off the ground. His most famous construct, the geodesic dome, would prove to be impractical. "They leaked," noted a disillusioned early enthusiast named Stuart Brand, of Whole Earth Catalogue fame. "The angles between the facets could never be sealed successfully." But no matter.

Almost 40 years after his death, it's not Bucky's inventions, it's his embrace of potentiality and possibility that stands him apart. Bucky's vision of the world, and the humanistic values of one world that endeared him to the Boomer Generation, at a time when idealism and can-doism was sending kids into the Peace Corps, not to gambling halls.

In his early years, depressed, jobless, and with a family to support, Fuller considered suicide. Instead, he asked himself a series of questions: "What is my job on the planet? What is it that needs doing? What is it that I know something about that probably won't happen unless I take responsibility for it?"

Out of this period of study and self-examination, Fuller began to see that his calling was not confined to inventing things. But to inspire inventive thinking in others. In mid-life he began to travel the world speaking to audiences about the future, about possibility, and potentiality. These lectures would go on for hours and the effect was expansive.

Fuller coined the term "spaceship earth" and no matter where he spoke, he'd create a sense of global unity by telling his audience that "we are all passengers on spaceship earth."

Fuller's 1960s vision was to observe that humankind was depleting the earth's resources at a rapid clip. He saw that there would come an inflection point, a reckoning. "Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment," he would often say, humanity is in 'final exam' as to whether or not it qualifies for continuance in Universe."

All hands on deck on spaceship earth.

The post Reclaiming the Vision of a World That Works appeared first on Innovation Resource.

Robert Tucker

Want Robert Tucker for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Why Are So Many Top Innovators Failing?
Robert Tucker
Robert Tucker
November 15, 2023
Crypto enterprenuer Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy and ...
Berlin's Futurium Helps Humanity Prepare for a Brighter Tomorrow
Robert Tucker
Robert Tucker
November 15, 2023
While Hamas terrorists were planning their deadly attack on Israel last ...
China's Latest Issue: Nobody Wants To Go There Anymore
Robert Tucker
Robert Tucker
August 17, 2023
Six months after China lifted Covid-19 restrictions and reopened its borders, ...
Why Are So Many Top Innovators Failing?
Crypto enterprenuer Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy and may now face 110 years in prison when sentenced in 2024.Meanwhile, in Texas, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has begun serving an 11-year sentence for making false claims to investors about blood-testing devices that could supposedly detect "...
Read More
Berlin's Futurium Helps Humanity Prepare for a Brighter Tomorrow
While Hamas terrorists were planning their deadly attack on Israel last week, my travel companions and I were in Prague and Berlin, visiting museums and recalling that famous line of historian George Santayana, "Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it."Aging Boomers all, we were seekers of history and its lessons for the...
Read More
China's Latest Issue: Nobody Wants To Go There Anymore
Six months after China lifted Covid-19 restrictions and reopened its borders, visitors are staying away in droves. The Wall Street Journal reports that Shanghai's and Beijing's airports are nearly deserted. In the first half of 2023 less than a quarter of visitors travelled there compared to 2019. And with foreign investment in China down 80 per...
Read More
As Climate Disasters Increase, Here's How One Kentucky Town is Rebuilding
Last week I flew to tiny Dawson Springs, Kentucky, to help rebuild houses destroyed in the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the state a year ago. As a totally unskilled volunteer for an organization called Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders, I am not sure I made much of a contribution. But I returned home to California with unexpected jo...
Read More
Will Baby Boomers Live Up to Their Potential?
There's an old joke about two babies who were placed side-by-side in a hospital maternity ward. They lay there staring at one another. Decades later, in their 90s, the two recognized each other when they found themselves sharing the same hospital room. One of them says to the other, "So how'd it go?" These days, the Baby Boom Generation seems ...
Read More
How to Seize the Opportunities in Climate Change
Canadian Wayne Gretzky, the winningest ice hockey player of all time, was once asked the secret of his success. "Simple, he replied. "I don't skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it's going to be." If you're a regular reader of this newsletter, you know our focus is on skating to where the opportunities will be in the future — and positi...
Read More
The Most Important Leadership Mindset Everybody Needs to Master
You don't need a crystal ball to see that we’re in a period of mass acceleration right now. “It’s as if we’re driving the fastest race car ever imagined through unknown, unmarked terrain,” observes Fareed Zakaria in Ten Lessons for a Post Pandemic World. “But we never bothered to equip the car with airbags.” We didn’t get insurance. We have not ...
Read More
Elon Musk's Innovator's Dilemma
I once asked Elon Musk if he ever felt he was spreading himself too thin. This was years ago when we were both speakers at the Economist Innovation Conference at U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Musk had already gained a reputation for being a serial entrepreneur, and for an incredible work ethic. Seventy-hour weeks were not uncommon. Bu...
Read More
Five Favorite Environments for Unleashing Creativity
If you've participated in one of my workshops, or watched my videos on YouTube, you've heard me riff on the importance of environment in the creative/innovative process. You put a person in one setting - let's say, a basement windowless conference room in the Days Inn — and they underwhelm you with the ideas they come up with. You take that same...
Read More
If You Were the PGA, How Would You Fend Off LIV?
It is one thing to "Monday morning quarterback" the missteps of companies like Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, Neiman Marcus and others who were fatally disrupted. It is quite another to put forth what you would do if you were leading an organization in the crosshairs of a disruptive threat, such as the PGA Tour just now. For those of you who don't f...
Read More