July 28th, 2012 // 7:02 pm @ Oliver DeMille
My friend Allen Levie sent me a note in response to an article I wrote about the move from internationalism to globalism, and suggested that the most effective solutions ahead in the new century would be : 1) less institution-based, 2) interdisciplinary, and 3) structured through personal relations rather than geographic settings.
I think he is right, and his note got me thinking.
Numbers 1 and 3 may seem like the same thing, but 1 is really a re-write of the old institutionally-biased perspective that organizations are necessary to solve serious challenges, while 3 embraces long-distance relationships and virtual communities now available in the information age rather than being tied to local and geographical constrictions.
This is revolutionary, and I think he put his finger on 3 of the top developments ahead.
He also suggested that perhaps our current sovereignty and currency problems are the consequence of two generations of decreasing entrepreneurial leadership.
I agree, and I think that getting sovereignty and currency right is even more important in a post-institutional /post-geographical world ahead.
But, as he suggested, the solutions to our currency and sovereignty challenges will only come from interdisciplinary — not just specialized — thinking.
The expert modus operandi is to fit in, to work within past parameters of success, while the interdisciplinary/entrepreneurial m/o is to innovate and push the envelope.
Certainly there can be overlap between these two categories, and experts pushing for innovation are actually on the entrepreneurial side.
These three traits are the beginning of an outline of the emerging Information age.
A fourth model that I think will be central to this is the rise of new tribes.
In other words, interdisciplinary thinking, non-institutional solutions, and personal relationships can present as widespread individualism or as networks of inter-meshed communities: the individual string or the lattice.
I think the lattice is more likely and also preferable.
If this all sounds abstract, any talk of the future must move beyond what we already know. But these ideas make a lot of sense:
- interdisciplinary thinking rather reliance on over-specialization
- personal and private (rather than mostly institutional and government) solutions to major problems
- online and interest-based communities rather than neighborhoods as the focus of community life
- networks of people working together on various projects, some as business enterprises and others with charitable or other social agendas
Finally, a fifth trait of the coming era is a new style of leadership, based more on providing information and sharing meaning than on directing others through hierarchy and authority — thought leaders, rather than managers.
Note that the key to this new leadership is the ability to make information, ideas, systems and solutions more simple, rather than the industrial age/managerial penchant for complexity which dominated the last sixty years.
Put all five together and a framework for a developing information age starts to take shape.
The focus needs to be on the following:
- Smaller, not bigger
- More participative, less controlled from the top
- Better, not bigger
When thinkers like Alvin Toffler, Ken Wilber or Ray Kurzweil have suggested significant changes ahead, they have been criticized in terms like idealist, pseudo-science, and unscholarly.
But the same was said of most of the great promoters of progress in human history.
The old way of seeing things is always in power, but the new, innovative, creative and inventive always sway the future.
Note that the technology of our age could be used to promote “Better, Not Bigger” or its opposite, “Bigger, Not Better.”
The decade just ahead may well be a continuing series of battles between these two visions of the future.