"Increasingly I believe that we can form a new social contract using the technology available to transfer increased decision making authority to the individual. Rather than "fan the fire" or fight the status quo we should use the technology to avoid the current nodes of power and explore alternative approaches at the individual level. Everyone acknowledges that the current paradigm shift in technology will have profound economic and social changes, but we should not overlook the chance to change the political system."
On Saturday September 24 I am speaking at an event for WiseTribe. I am interested in what they are doing because I think they are exploring a new form of "organization" that could be common in the future. Some of my remarks are below.
I have three interests:
2. Creativity and early childhood learning
3. Complexity science
• Entrepreneurship is a result of individual empowerment and leads to economic well being. I spend most of my time teaching people to use social entrepreneurship to solve social and environmental problems. My hope is that eventually we can drop “social” because entrepreneurship becomes so responsive to society’s problems.
• Creativity interests me because it is the basis for invention and innovation. I study it from the perspective of the young child because so many geniuses say their secret was to maintain a childlike attitude.
• Complexity is important because it brings so much insight to understanding people, organizations and networks. There are three types of problems—simple, complicated and complex. Tying your shoes is a simple problem. Building a bridge is complicated, but follow engineering, apply math and bingo a bridge is built. Complicated problems are linear and deterministic. These are the kinds of problems that AI will solve, leaving only the complex problems. Complex problems have independent variables that produce emergent features that are not caused by the variables. Stock markets and social problems are examples of complex problems. Black Swans are a subset of complex problems.
• Now if we take complexity in a simple form to understand people, organizations and networks, we see that the roles of each component changes throughout history. When we lived in caves 40,000 years ago the individual was paramount and there were no organizations or networks. Why—no trust and no sharing
• Roll forward to the Dark Ages—individuals are enslaved, kingdoms and the Catholic Church are dominant organizations and there are no meaningful networks.
• Next 1800s in the U.S.--individuals are becoming empowered after the French Revolution, many small networks such as railroads emerge and the government is emerging as a powerful force. The government increases its dominance throughout the 19th and 20th century because small disorganized networks lend themselves to dominant nodes or organizations.
• However, what we have today thanks to computing and the Internet is large, well organized and connected networks. In this environment what network science tells us is that we no longer need large nodes like government. When networks are organized, information exchange is easy and we no longer need large organizations like universities or governments to store and organize information.
• Now we could talk about how to redefine government or the modern university, but the more interesting question to me is how do we bring about change through the power of the networked individual. Stanford Social Innovation Review has a very interesting article in which they discuss the new concept of emergent strategy. Emergent strategy, as opposed to the traditional strategy concepts of Michael Porter, focuses on an iterative approach using networked partners to solve problems. Trial and error, decentralized exploration, solid evaluation at every step, transparent reporting—these are the features of emergent strategy, 21st century organizations and movements. In fact this has always been the approach of movements like Gandhi and Mandela. This approach based on emergent strategy has also been embraced by the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the most accomplished social organizations in the U.S.
• Now how does all of this apply to WiseTribe? WiseTribe is not an organization. It is a movement, of networked individuals, focused on social and environmental change. WiseTribe is an alternative to government for the management of society—for economic, social and political well being. The government is no longer the default solution. We need to iteratively explore this new power, figure out how to communicate it to more and more people and use WiseTribe(s) to solve the impossible problems that are the ones really worth solving.
Previous thoughts on related subjects are here.