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Jennifer James  

Cultural Anthropologist & Expert on Change

Jennifer James is a cultural anthropologist, lecturer, writer and commentator, who is well known to audiences around the world for her innovative ideas. She works on an international level, helping people to meet the challenges of today's transitions. Her speeches and seminars deal with the dynamics of change and the development of thinking skills. Dr. James is a specialist in the cultural elements of technological change and marketing intelligence.

A published author, James' books include Windows, Success is the Quality of Your Journey, and Thinking in the Future Tense. She wrote a newspaper column for the Seattle Times for eighteen years and has hosted local radio and television programs. She has filmed two PBS specials titled, "Thinking in the Future Tense" and "A Workout for the Mind."

Dr. James earned her Master's Degree in history and psychology and her Doctorate in cultural anthropology. Before entering the public arena, she was a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington Medical School for twelve years.


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Speech Topics

Cultural Intelligence: Telling the New Story

Technology concentrates energy - it makes the difference between a steam engine and a microchip. Progress is the concentration of energy. International communications technology has literally changed who we are by concentrating human energy as never before. This knowledge based commerce and contact has changed economics (the efficient use of available energy), demographics (who we work with and meet with) and ultimately culture (the stories we tell ourselves about the way things should be).

There is, in all human adaptation processes, both a demographic lag (who will we work with) and a cultural lag (what stories are we willing to change).

Cultural intelligence is the ability to recognize cultural myths, our own and those of others, and replace them with current realities. Cultural intelligence is the ability to "unpack" the stories we have been told about who we are and what we do, examine them and replace them with new information. Leaders need to understand the balance between what technology can do and what human culture can accommodate.

The Human Face of Technological Change

We are all becoming "cyborgs," part technician and part human consciousness. The knowledge worker, the portfolio professional, has different skills and a different character than any previous worker class. Our current leadership assignment is nothing less than the re-making of our traditional workers and our organizations into more civilized and productive cyber forms.

We can teach the mind and body to adapt but it is a tough assignment. The key is the ability to think in new ways. We need to understand what our life and our business is now about and what our organization's place in the global market is likely to be.

How to Change, How to Take Risks

We are changing faster than any other generation of Americans. The changes are both deep and broad. Technology drives the speed of this change, economics creates the breadth and cultural shifts provide the depth. Each of us will be asked to think in new ways, to work in new ways and to feel in new ways. Yet we resist, the body and mind automatically resist significant changes.

This session will outline the sources and direction of technological, economic and cultural change. You will have a chance to evaluate your own flexibility and response time. You will learn the steps in the process of change and skills for building a 21st century mind and character.

Thinking in the Future Tense

Every major system in America is in the process of a major shift. Major industries, in particular telecommunications, were hit first and healthcare soon followed. The political, legal, and academic systems are facing the same "rightsizing." Leadership in this new era requires the ability to think in new ways. Management requires the skill of thinking about thinking, knowing how you think and operate. This seminar will provide experience in eight thinking skills:

Perspective (seeing with new eyes) Awareness of Patterns (recognizing the future) Critical Thinking (understanding the social context) Response Time (the ability to change and help others change) Context (understanding the past to know the future) Effectiveness (doing more with less) New Forms of Intelligence (using the rest of your brain) Diversity I.Q. (profiting from diversity) Think of this seminar as a workout for your mind: a little brain aerobics, a blueprint for future success. You will leave energized and optimistic.

The Adaptive Executive

One of the most difficult aspects of adapting to rapid change, particularly when it is accompanied by complex technology and multiplying data sources, is the ability to give up an old construct about the way things ought to be and develop a new one based on the current realities. Accepting a new version of reality, essentially telling a new story, requires cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence is the ability to observe, learn, and understand our own culture as well as the culture of others. It is an essential skill in a diverse community and a global market.

There are four stages to adaptation: technology, economics, demographics, and culture. We adapt easily to new technology, we accommodate new economic structures, we welcome new workers, but we resist changing cultural beliefs. Culture is basically the beliefs we have about the "way things ought to be." Culture always lags behind technological, economic, and demographic shifts.

As we increasingly become "cyborgs," part technician and part human consciousness, successful adaptation requires changes in management and leadership. The new knowledge workers, the portfolio professionals, prefer to work as part of a diverse, empowered team with maximum independence and minimum management. They have different skills and a different character than any previous worker class.

Our current leadership assignment requires a remaking of our staff, our organizations, and ourselves into more civilized, responsible, and productive cyber forms. The key is the ability to think in new ways. The adaptive executive is future-oriented; he or she understands both the current business environment as well as what their organization's place in the local and global market is likely to be.

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