Identifying and describing "Driving Forces"

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See the (editable) list of Ci'Num 2007's Driving Forces >>

Changes in society, politics, technology, art, etc. are often only the symptoms of more fundamental transformations. For instance, high unemployment is the result of underlying forces in the labour market, which in turn are affected by such factors as the rate of productivity improvement.

Rather than working with an exact definition of a driving force what is important is to have a pragmatic approach. We start with an observable change and ask "Why?" repeatedly. Where to stop asking "why?" is also a pragmatic matter to be decided by common sense.


It would be naive to expect clear chains of causality. Instead what will emerge is a "web" of interrelated driving forces. This web will also not be static, but rather evolve. Over time new forces will be added, existing ones combined and/or replaced, etc.

Each driving force can be described using a number of attributes:

  1. Name? Name the driving force, it helps to be specific (rather than “Demographics”, call it “The ageing of Europe” to indicate direction of the force)
  2. Situation: A short description of the driving force.
  3. Enablers: Factors which strengthen this driving force. (these are actually other driving forces, and you can link to them in the wiki!)
  4. Inhibitors: Factors which weaken this driving force. (these are actually other driving forces, and you can link to them in the wiki!)
  5. Paradigms: Changes in ways of thinking about the world due to the driving force.
  6. Experts: Sources for additional information about this driving force. (if you have found people, put the links to them)
  7. Web Resources: Useful resources on the web relating to this force.

To produce a "DRIVING FORCE" document

  1. Start with documentary research. Research issues looking not just into trends and certainties, but also in : uncertainties (what we don't know, what could go one way or another); Disruptive thinking (what ideas go counter common belief, while remaining in the realm of informed discussion); Paradigm changes (what certain or uncertain changes compel us to see things very differently, and/or change the situation for the world at large.
  2. Identify a few (1-2) experts and contact them very early in the game for email, phone of face-to-face interviews, focussed on changes, uncertainties and disruptions rather than certainties. It is better to contact many experts on many topics early in the process, because they might take time to answer. If possible, make sure a few of them can read the Driving Force document once it's written, to check for inaccuracies.
  3. Write, validate with 1 expert, rewrite.

Now, take part in editing Ci'Num 2007's Driving Forces >>