John Furey is the founder and chief architect of the MindTime Foundation, a mission driven organisation that provides a framework, language and tools to help people understand people. He has developed this groundbreaking model of human cognition and uses it to solve some of the most intractable problems facing people and organisations today. John works as a consultant and speaker for companies, universities, government agencies, and other organisations, helping them implement more effective team building, communication, innovation, and collaborative thinking through the application of the MindTime framework. He is considered a thought leader in the design of human centered solutions.
John’s life has straddled several continents, nations, and fields of interest. While still in his 20’s and living in various countries in Africa, he was struck by the nature of the disparities and conflicts he observed, and wondered how it was that colonisation and dictatorship had allowed so few to dominate so many for so long. The traditional theories of the day, locked in economics and geo-politics, seemed to come up short, which led to an insight: if the mechanisms of this domination could be understood, they might be harnessed for the betterment of humanity.
John came back to Europe and eventually the US, and started to explore the question professionally. It was in the intersection of technology and psychology that the answer began to flow. By the 1990s, he started to see the importance of how each of us filters our experiences through our perception of time and the profound repercussions this insight has for self-understanding, collaboration, organisational efficiency and human sustainability. Based on this, John founded a start-up focused on exploring people’s time-framed thought patterns.
In 1995, he came across Julian Jaynes’s seminal work, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Armed with new insights, he set about developing a measure of human temporal cognition, or how thought patterns have evolved in relation to the perception of time. The theory linked the evolution of consciousness, self-awareness, and memory structures with our ability to engage in mental time travel (past, present, future), and how that influences our personality and behaviour. In other words, John discovered that how people perceive and process information and interact with others is a direct outcome of the relationship between their perception of past, present, and future. How they use these three mental constructs of time creates their inner reality.
He began to understand that while people can choose how they are going to behave, they couldn’t choose how they are going to learn. In 1998 he engaged noted author Dan Ariely, then a professor and scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to help him put a solid scientific and testable metric underneath this increasingly sophisticated theory. It was soon found the model worked cross-culturally and could be used to describe the interactions inside of or between cultures.
The implications were profound and when put into practice had a direct impact on the cultures of teams, organisations, learning institutions, and any place where humans came together. By the early 2000s, John was successfully opening new levels of communication and collaboration between people while diffusing conflicts within organisations, no matter whether they were conflicts of value, meaning, purpose, or strategy.
Because of the effectiveness of the framework and the insights it reveals, its simple construction and its solid scientific footing, John was often invited to speak to various audiences. He became a high-level speaker, consultant and trainer to organisations large and small, both for profit and not for profit. John’s model undercut the supposedly inevitable conflicts between people’s behaviours, leadership styles, communication styles, and types of motivation.
In 2005, John published his first book with co-author Miller Stevens, Power Tools, a User’s Manual for the Mind. A second book, It’s All About Time ~ How Companies Innovate and Why Some Do It Better, was published in 2010.
In 2006, the MindTime Project was founded to bring John’s vision into maturity. It began with new team members Irwin Sentilles, the software designer and designer Shawn Phillips coming on board, followed by Professor Vincent Fortunato. The vision of the MindTime Project was to build a more conscious and empathic world through developing a shared understanding of human thinking across cultures and languages. MindTime, the project’s groundbreaking theory of psychology, was put to use to transform how organisations of all kinds respond to human behaviour.
An answer to his original question from his 20’s in Africa — how was it that a few people could dominate so many so effectively — was coming into focus. Everything we do begins with a thought. The way we learn to standardise and leverage social systems (political, economic and educational), and harness human thinking in particular ways has a dramatic impact on every part of a society. John’s work shows how cultures and their rules are created by our minds, and how we can recreate them in a world desperately in need of new thinking.
Between 2010 and 2013, when he took a three year sabbatical to stand back from his work, he focused on developing the technology and social integration capabilities with his colleagues in San Francisco, that built on the previous years of work. MindTime was now both technically capable and scientifically grounded enough to be taken seriously on the world stage.
In 2017, he moved from his retreat on the island of Samos, Greece to Groningen, the Netherlands, and founded, with his partner, Myrte, the MindTime Foundation. A not for profit foundation set up to bring the Theory of MindTime and its potential to the world.
The foundation is a self-sustaining foundation that holds the entirety of the intellectual property built up over 25 years of collaborative endeavours. The foundation’s mission is to provide a universal language, framework and tools to help people understand people. The foundation’s two pronged mission, propagation and education, is built on a technical body of work, a design body of work and an educational body of work, backed by years of scientific research, done by the MindTime project and independant researchers in several countries, and many articles published in peer reviewed scientific journals.