We are collectively creating change and increasing complexity at a rate far greater than our current abilities to fully understand and respond appropriately, and yet our collective intelligence, imagination and creativity is truly staggering. It is a vast, largely untapped, treasure trove of “group genius” that needs all of us working together in joined-up ways, from local to global scale and back again, sharing our stories and learnings, engaging and unleashing the local brilliance in every place, if we are to truly unlock the rich diversity of gifts and talents we have been given, for the sustainable wellbeing, progress and thrivability of all.
We know that our Financial, Economic, Education, Healthcare, Governance, Justice and other social systems are complex, ever-changing, messy and non-linear, because human beings simply cannot be completely reduced to predictive algorithms, no matter how smart our technology is. Despite rapid technological advances, and the growing amount of inspiring work happening to improve the world, the time is now to really shift what’s possible.
But how to accelerate such a shift and speed the elevation of humanity beyond a tipping point to break through to whole new levels of “wealth” and collective flourishing for as long as we exist?
This is where we must tap into the extraordinary power of our Stories (that include all of our inner and outer conversations, our visions, hopes, dreams and fears, our metaphors, myths, beliefs and values) to shape the Structures that support them, such as our roles, rules, principles, organizations, objectives, strategies, incentives, metrics, built infrastructure and language. We can think of all of our social systems as being defined by Stories and Structures. Our collective Patterns – habits of thinking, speaking, learning, relating, working, living, consuming, etc. are primarily shaped by our social systems – i.e. our stories and structures. Our patterns lead to Consequences – intended, unintended, positive or negative, individual, collective – which are of course viewed or experienced differently, reflecting the diversity of people in any given social system.
New or updated stories and structures that tap in to both personal and shared motivations such as individual passions and talents, common purpose and collective possibility can change our structures and amplify patterns of expanded self-interest, becoming part of a social system’s Feedback & Control Loops – increasing the likelihood of enabling, supporting and advancing more generative norms and positive impact in, on, and for our systems, as a natural and ongoing consequence, benefitting all.
Donella Meadows, a pioneering environmental scientist, teacher and writer, lead author of the influential 1972 book The Limits to Growth, shortly before her untimely death published a Sustainability Institute paper called “Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System”. She provided a (working draft) list of 12 Leverage Points. Her top 6, in increasing order of effectiveness were: 6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to what kinds of information); 5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints); 4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure; 3. The goals of the system; 2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system – its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters – arises; 1. The power to transcend paradigms.
As you explore this site, hopefully you’ll be able to make your own sense of the different connected elements of a complex adaptive system (what I think of as an “Inclusive Wealthmaking Ecosystem-of ecosystems”, or “I-WE” for short, with “wealth” defined in its most expansive, enriching, enabling and meaningful sense), unfolding and evolving to shift what’s possible and transcend the limitations of the outmoded, reductionist and myopic complex adaptive mainstream systems of society we currently have…
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