Saturday, August 21, 2010

Big Picture--Vancouver Edition

We're going to try cover a lot of ground here this morning, so you might want to grab a coffee.

This post can also be sub-titled, "The Everybody Complains About the Weather, But Nobody Does Anything About It Edition".

First, a quick synopsis covering what motivates me, and what I'd like to think would motivate everyone on this planet. 
By the year 2050, it is projected that our planet will be required to support nine billion people. That is a little less than three billion more people than we already have.
You do not have to do much research to see that humanity and the resources that make our life style possible are already under increasing strain, adding three billion more will create further challenges.
Change, instability, rapid evolution of technologies and social trends, and political systems unable, to slow to cope are going to be the defining features now and the future.  The more we understand this, the better.

Now, lets look at a key word I used there--"projected". One thing to understand about chaotic systems is that we can not predict with any certainty the outcome in the years ahead. We can only project. Like the weather. The weather we get today is the product of chaotic systems and inherently unpredictable. There are boundaries that make predictions reasonable within a span of a few days, and general predictions within months (those are as much based on seasonal patterns than any real predictive abilities, however). But long term predictions of weather, or lets introduce a term we'll get used to here, climate change, is inherently unpredictable.
Just as a quick aside on 'climate change' here, I am not a climate change denier, but my approach to climate change comes from my understanding of chaotic systems. We cannot manage climate change. Cutting our carbon foot print is a great idea. It makes great sense from angles other than that of trying to 'halt' climate change. It's a path we should take anyways simply from the responsibility of a systems being point of view.
But from a trying to affect climate change, it's not a reasonable proposition. I say this now, in that I will always take great pains not to politicize chaotic systems. That my friends is the road to fanaticism.

While climate change is one thing humanity will have to adapt to as it happens--and we can do our part!--what we can have much more effect upon is our social systems.

Here is a question I like to ask: Hands up who thinks we can not do better as a society, as organizations, and as people?
This actually is a trick question. Studies show that we have a tendency to think we're doing enough, we're doing our part, but it's the other people that aren't. That is a trick our minds play on us. The reality is different.

The reality is we can all do better, the reality is we all have to do better. What we are all doing right now is not good enough.

The question people can then reasonably ask then is, how?

The answer largely lies in understanding chaotic systems. Of which our economies especially, our social structure to lesser degrees are chaotic. How we do better lies in part with our giving up our illusion of control we have over these systems. Ten thousand years of civilization has been a story of trying to impose order over an ever increasing level of complexity and and 'chaotic unpredictability'.
What we here need to understand, is neither complete chaos is desirable (no order in the system), nor is complete order (no chaos or 'disorder' in the system).
Understanding this takes a different approach in improving ourselves, improving our social systems, improving the organizations that make modern life possible.

The 'answer' in how we can do better is then not an "Answer"--there is no "The Answer"--but rather a process.

What I am developing with both my consulting practice, and my Transforming projects is both growing and building the process, and the methods for developing and learning the process.

Bringing this all back to Vancouver, is while my long term goal is to have a positive affect on world, my immediate goals are having a positive affect on the city that makes my amazing life possible.

The many forces or winds of change that will force regions, organizations and individuals the world over to change and adapt their ways will affect us here too.
Will we adapt? That is quite likely. How well can we adapt? That's a better question. How can we lead the way in showing how to adapt? Now we are talking!

I did not develop the approaches I advocate. What I did do was dedicate myself, my life, to understanding them, understanding how to 'package' them to bring further value to people, organizations, and society, and dedicated myself to being a leading force in bringing this process to as many people and organizations as I can, and as we "get this" as a network, we are the leading force in developing this for not just our benefit, but for the benefit of society as a whole.

I did this, because this is the most natural way for us to affect change, and it's effectiveness lies in the idea that there is no central authority, no central control, no chain of command, there is just the process, and our desire to lead and grow at whatever level we chose. Our "control" lies in our ability to improve ourselves, and in leading and inspiring others to be the best they can be in the context of the challenges we all face!
It is the "emergent properties" of this process that creates the change we need in ourselves to respond to the challenges life is bringing us, and the change in organizations and society that will give us the optimal chance to adapt and thrive in the face of the unpredictable nature of the challenges and opportunities.

It is very empowering at a personal level, at an organizational level, and if we as a Vancouver society can harness it together, very empowering at this regional level.

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