Touch and go | Predicting the Future | A different kind of coaching

Gil Friend
3 min readMay 8, 2022


Sauron’s red crystal ball

(I originally published this piece six months ago today, on Dec 8, 2021. In addition to posting new writings here, I’ll occassionaly bring forward some prior pieces from other venues that you may have missed.)


It’s a tough time to make assessments, or predictions.

The widespread, justifiable, and inevitable disappointment with COP26 masks enormous shifts underway in business, policy, and the wider culture. These shifts that are notable, even though inadequate. (I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson’s observation that the remarkable thing about a dog walking on its hind legs is not that it does it well but that it does it at all.) Even “Net Zero,” for all its flaws — too slow, too tied to offsets, too often a diversion from actual emission reductions — represents a acknowledgment that “something must be done.”

We seem trapped by a consensus process in a world that seems to have no other way to make difficult decisions, in the grip of capital-ism’s mastery of “change without change,” unable or unwilling to address the six structural flaws that the myriad “reform capitalism” efforts fail to confront.

On the bright side, “hypocrisy is the first step to real change,” says Hunter Lovins — wholly inadequate, yet acknowledging the reality and pointing to the necessity of something more. (Consider Citigroup’s plan to drop selected clients in order to meet its own climate goals. Is it enough? No. Is it consisent? Probably not. “But you know something is happening here, don’t you, Mr. Jones?”)

So I call the mood of despair that I hear from some quarters unwarranted. (click to continue reading) Surrendering to doom or imagined inevitability may be the ultimate expression of privilege — “I don’t have to do the work against seemingly overwhelming odds, because there’s no hope” — and unwarranted in such a fluid and contingent world, in a world so full of surprises.

The Pollyanna mood of Pinker, Lomberg, and others is also also unsupportable, once we confess that the remarkable achievements of the 20th century represent a prosperity built on sand — on extraction of vitality and regenerative capacity from the living world that sustains all we value and all we hold dear.

The game of business, and the entire playing field of global capital-ism, are warped by the intrinsic market distortions (just one of those six structural flaws) of explicit subsidies and unmonetized externalities. Yet an ecological lens reveals significant, large and monumental economic opportunities.

  • Significant, in reducing pervasive and endemic “waste” that is mostly invisible to financial management systems.
  • Large, in reinventing service offerings and business models to deliver “more value and less stuff.”
  • Monumental, in figuring out how to do business as though we belonged to the living world.

How? Let’s talk.

“It is absolutely touch and go,” — R. Buckminster Fuller reminded us. “Each one of us could make the difference. That is why I do what I do.”

Me too. How about you?


We all know that “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.” (Attributed to everyone from Niels Bohr to Yogi Berra!). That’s why

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

That’s one of the things we talk about in our Living Between Worlds webinars. The last one of 2021 returns a week from today, at 12–1:30p PT, Wednesday December 15—and continues every third Wednesday in that time slot. Reminder: You must pre-register to attend. (You can always find the recordings of our previous sessions here.)


The Living Between Worlds calls are intentionally exploratory and contextual — thinking together about how we might live with grace, dignity, and power in these strange, strange times. Many of you tell me you want to get down to more effective action in your work and in your life. Those come together in my coaching programs — specifically designed for world changers. Like you. TrimTabs, as Bucky called us. If this might be for you — or for your teams — apply for a free sample session.

I look forward to working with you!

What might it be like if humans lived, if we did business, as though we belonged to the living world?

- Gil Philip Friend



Gil Friend

Gil Friend is CEO of Natural Logic Inc., founder of Critical Path Capital, and an inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame.