We’re in between 2 vastly different business eras/cultures
“Authentic paradigm shifts are rare because they entail an entire restructuring of our understanding, and if a period of letting go does not happen, and if we do not go through an experience of liminality, where nothing seems to make sense any more, we will never be able to enter a new paradigm.” Simon Robinson
“We are at an exciting point in history where “humanity will change more in the next twenty years than in the previous 300.” Gerd Leonhard
“Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going, yet people are consumed with speed rather than direction.” Stephen R. Covey
Every problem in the world is the result of the stories we tell ourselves. They provide the context for our behavior. In the industrial era, the story of “progress” has us madly competing against one another and nature to get ahead in life.
Because the gifts and talents we were born with and our skills, experience or knowledge are not really appreciated, we pack away our value as a human being to heed the mantra to keep enacting stories of money making machines.
Hooked on the addictive “Age of Me” culture, we want too much and buy too much. We ignore our desire to become everything that we are authentically capable of becoming. Instead of self-actualizing, we fill the gaping void inside us by blindly consuming more and more, mistaking food, money, status or materialism to be the real thing.
By enacting and reinforcing “Age of Me” stories, we unconsciously reduce everything to a transaction. Not only does that undermine the life-support systems we depend on but we also lose sight of what’s real.
Real stuff is not GDP statistics, housing prices, retail sales, the stock market or any other incumbent yardsticks or indices. It is real companies going out of business. Real people in all shapes, colors and sizes losing jobs and homes and real families winding up on the street. Sometimes in a different country. People with fundamental needs living their lives, trying to stay sane in an exponentially chaotic and diverse world of 7.3 billion people and growing.
The eminent philosopher Karl Popper defines problems as two distinct types: “All problems are either clouds or clocks.” To fix a clock, you take it apart to examine its individual parts before putting it back together with some new parts. With a cloud, you can only observe it as a dynamic, shifting, morphing whole. But because taking things apart and “breaking them down” gives us a sense of power and control (sadly, an “Age of Me” legacy), many often use clock thinking to address cloud (systemic) problems. Then they wonder why the problems remain or worsen.
A paradigm shift/culture is a cloud problem, like a personality, an era, a social environment or an ecosystem.
So are such real world problems: The cheapness of humanity’s soul. Broken people. Growing ranks of new poor: seniors with no pension, young with no future. Poverty, hunger and gross inequality. Mass unemployment. Mass emigration. Chronic poor health. Homelessness. Hopelessness. Learned helplessness. Unhappiness. Social unrest. Climate change.
No one person, division, department, company or country can handle an emergent culture with clock thinking. To stop the rot, we have to stop doing more of the same and reboot our mindsets for the future. Essentially, to go from the “Age of Me” to the “Age of We” where everyone needs everyone, with huge doses of openness, empowerment and transparency.
This shift can redefine what it truly means to be human and how the future of work and living can finally work for all of us.
To understand prevalent clock thinking, imagine five blind wise men trying to explain what an elephant is for the first time. Based on touch, each proceeds to describe and defend his experience of what an elephant “is”. The one who touched its ear thought it’s a huge fan, the one who touched its trunk said it’s a thick branch, the one who touched its tail insisted it’s a rope, the one who touched its leg remarked it’s a pillar and after feeling its side, the last said it’s a wall.
The truth is they are all only partially correct as the elephant can only be explained in totality (cloud). This habit to see life exclusively from our own perspective describes the state of our world today. We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.
“Creating a society that goes against human nature is what creates the suffering … We live in a completely unnatural society, that actually tramples on what it means to be a human being. That’s the essence of suffering, and there are so many ways in which our society does that.” Dr Gabor Mate
For true change to occur, we need to come together as human beings. To discover that life’s not about ourselves and our loved ones but about investing in everyone. That if we don’t move others forward as we move forward, we haven’t quite done our job as human beings. That no matter how different we are, all of us have something meaningful to contribute to society. When we can do that, we will be able to truly cherish diversity in one another.
Great ideas aren’t born in a vacuum. They come about because people care as they see and share perspectives others don’t. If diversity can be embraced, nurtured and brought together around a shared purpose, we can tackle new and complex problems by being open, empathic and transparent. It’s when we understand other people’s points of view that we can get a complete perspective of the challenges we all face.
With open systems, trust emerges. The glue that holds people and societies together, trust also reduces the need for rules and regulations. When there is trust, people do work that’s worth doing as we freely share information and ideas and empower each other to make things happen.
Alas, invisible things can be the hardest to change.
The “For me” vs “For us” mental models/inclinations?
“No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.” Marilyn Ferguson
Because everyone has mental models from the “Age of Me,” it’s incredibly hard to change a story we tell ourselves all lifelong. Even if it’s obvious we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. No matter how dysfunctional they make us, habits are extremely hard to break. To have a new story, we have to let go. Emotional attachments to old stories keep new ideas from penetrating and gaining ascendance.
The “Age of Me” (Competition) is the era that valued things for what they produced while the “Age of We” (Empowerment) is one that values the application of knowledge. This means a transition from a hierarchical bureaucracy internally focused on production outputs to an abundance culture focused on people and our wellbeing. From too simplistic notions about no limits to growth to one where anyone can start little social experiments to build trust with one another. To start unlearning to relearn. To tell and live stories of how we are much more than money making machines.
The “Age of We” beckons
Do we continue to pointlessly bicker in the “Age of Me” or can humanity succeed in making the shift to the “Age of We” – where a more trusting world for ourselves and our future generations is waiting to be crowd actualized for everyone’s benefit?
This can be the most disruptive and fascinating phase of transformation humanity has ever known. However:
“Never expect someone to understand change when their livelihood depends on not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair For people in big lumbering bureaucracies of the 20th century like management consultancies, business schools, corporates and governments, this fundamental shift maybe like switching from night to day. Perhaps that is why they keep doing more of the same – with secret trade deals and technology.
More about the “Age of Me”
As early as in 1983, Nobel Prize–winning economist Wassily Leontief had compared humans with horses: “The role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in the same way that the role of horses … was first diminished and then eliminated.”
During the last industrial revolution, the horse labor in the US had appeared impervious to technological change. At first, the equine population seemed to grow without end. But once the right technology came along, most horses were doomed. In just over half a century, horses were replaced by automobiles in the city and tractors in the countryside and nearly 88 percent were wiped out. By 1960, only three million horses remained. Today, horses are a rare sight in urban cities and driverless cars are on the horizon.
Perhaps it is MOST critical to try to understand the core dynamics of capitalism.
Isn’t it how a person with money hires a person without for the lowest possible wage to make as much profit as possible for the one with money? If so, how can most of us make a decent living or be meaningfully productive – let alone realize our dreams and aspirations if they are not to be a money making machine?
What’s really sad is that society completely overlooks the world’s most valuable assets – nature and us. Our potentials as a human being become invisible because the “Age of Me” does not value our authentic selves.
Artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of Things (ioT), renewal energies and robotics are all tools but based on the core dynamics of capitalism, wouldn’t life as we know it be a very unhappy one for most of us?
The problem with the emerging digital economy is direction. Of doing more and MORE of the same.
Calum Chace, author of Surviving AI and the novel Pandora’s Brain, observes for The Guardian: “There will be people who own the AI, and therefore own everything else. Which means homo sapiens will be split into a handful of ‘gods’, and then the rest of us.”
Technology already enables startups to make money with far fewer workers than a quarter of a century ago. Making money with a smart app requires less capital as sellers and buyers directly create the services together. As the number of users increases, virtually no extra cost is incurred. The marginal costs per unit of output tend towards zero and the returns to scale are high. Corporates are trying to follow suit.
Today, 62 people globally own as much wealth as 3.6 billion of us. To belong to the wealthier half of the world population, we just need a net worth of US$3,210. This widening wealth gap poses the greatest challenge we face this century.
The same old thinking, the same old results?
Will humans go the way of horses? If the “Age of Me” continues unabated, Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, is concerned the biggest corporations may be run by people who envision a world without human beings, where corporate computers become our evolutionary successors. If so, wouldn’t our world become one totally devoid of meaning?
It is tragic the “Age of Me” fails to recognize the innate gifts inside each and everyone of us. That’s what we have in abundance. In the past, we were what we owned for ourselves. Now, we can be what we share of ourselves. True abundance happens when each of us empowers one another to be our best for everyone’s benefit:
“Each of us has the perfect gift to give the world. It’s what we were born with … if we are able to each give what’s so uniquely ours – won’t we be able to create magic for and with each other?”
Unlike Leo Tolstoy, we now have the greatest opportunity to unpack our full potential as we help each other self actualize and make the “Age of We” a reality for everyone:
Everything we are attempting is an open (cloud) social experiment to observe human behavior regarding our shared future. Can we make the shift from a scarcity to an abundance mindset? It’s our little social experiment to find out if strangers ANYWHERE can build trust with one another. Everything is work in progress.
If this resonates, help get this movement off the ground for everyone, including for our future generations. Explore. Or translate your understanding of what we’re attempting into an illustration, a jingle, another article or whatever YOU do best. Share that on social media platforms … and ALSO – we’re looking for buzz generators as key CrowdPowerers.
That can be like learning to ride a bicycle. To learn that, you must make the effort to get a bicycle. Then you hop on, wobble, fall off and get on again and again until all of a sudden – you have taught yourself to ride.
Because the “Age of We” is the opposite of the “Age of Me”, you now have to learn to ride the bicycle backwards: The only person you try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.
To get you started, our first initiative to try to unleash the power of the crowd is to compile a video where strangers ANYWHERE may share their views about the future of work. Since this will affect you and yours, your children and their children, we look forward to your views. The more diverse, the better. Email your video clips (20 seconds MAX if possible) to betty at> crowdpowers.com by March 18, 2016. Please also indicate your name and birth/resident countries.
More food for thought