Your Horizon is shrinking
Our World is a Mess. That is probably something we can both agree on. Another thing we can both agree on, it’s our fault and only we can change the current System. This will be a short reminder of where we are.
What’s the problem?
Things are not working well.
They never have.
Furthermore, they are getting worse.
Our world is in turmoil. It is in a mess. I think most of us would agree.
Surprisingly though, there is plenty of evidence that the quality of life is better today than it has ever been.
This progress, however, has come at a high cost, and our way of life is not sustainable. Whether you want to change the political or economic system, save the whales, stop global warming, reform education, spark innovation or anything else, the answer is in how meaning, and understanding of what needs to be done, emerges from a conversation in community with people you love, people who care.
Disorder at all levels
The world is in disarray on all levels: personal, family, business, social, and global. The range of problems we face is long. I don't need to list them all - you are well aware of them, but to name but a few:
- On the *personal level*: unemployment, depression, and loneliness.
- On the *family* level: domestic violence and divorce.
- On the *business or organizational level*: lack of employee involvement and psychological well-being.
- At the *social or community* level: poverty, unemployment, inadequate health care.
- At the *political level*: increasing polarization and lack of tolerance
- At *global level*: global warming, terrorism, pandemics, financial instability, ocean pollution, self-termination, extinction, depletion of natural resources.
Why are things not working well and why is our way of living not sustainable? To create a better world we need to answer this question first.
Our Horizon is shrinking
Here is the challenge. In a world with increasing pressure to perform, which includes growth and market optimization, we have a natural human tendency to narrow our horizons. We focus only on the short term. We focus only on ourselves. We focus only on external events that threaten us. Our horizons are getting narrower and narrower - as individuals, as institutions, and as a society. While these tendencies are understandable, they can also create a vicious circle - the more we shrink our horizons, the more pressure we experience, which leads us to narrow our horizons even further.
How can we escape this vicious circle and go from the pressure to opportunity? Or even further how can we expand the space of possibilities? We must start by expanding our horizons - looking forward, looking around, and looking inwards. I will focus here on what this means for our institutions, but there is a similar imperative for us as individuals and as a society.
As the institutions come under increasing pressure, they are beginning to turn away from long-term strategies and acquire flexibility and agility. Another temporary problem is when an institution has actually become obsolete but uses power to maintain its own position. The key is to sense what is happening at the moment and to react to it - that is a strategy that leads to success.
I have become a strong advocate of an alternative strategy approach, which I call zoom out/zoom in - something I learned by working with some of the most successful technology companies in Silicon Valley. This strategic approach starts by zooming out 20-50 years and challenging the leadership to develop a common view of what their relevant markets or industries might look like then and what the impact would be on the kind of company they need to be to succeed in that specific market or industry. I would go one step further today and focus on a cosmic view. Technologies
The enlargement of the site is an attempt to build consensus and commitment within the leadership regarding the 2-3 initiatives they could pursue over the next 6-12 months that would have the greatest impact in accelerating the movement towards the longer-term goal. The aim is to ensure that a critical mass of resources is allocated to these short-term initiatives. However, this also involves taking into account new ways of thinking, such as normative thinking, and thinking about global challenges from the Cosmic Perspective.
By looking ahead to identify the really big opportunities that could be targeted in the face of the exponential changes taking place in our global economy, this approach pulls leaders out of the short-term thinking that drives our institutions and helps them to look beyond the short-term pressures that demand their attention.
This leads to a second opportunity to broaden our horizons - instead of focusing only on ourselves, we need to focus on others around us and explore the potential to come together to achieve things we could never achieve on our own. For more information, please read the article "Economy of Wellbeing" by me.
To do this we need to understand the unmet needs and motivations of others. In the "zoom-out" efforts mentioned earlier, institutions too often remain focused on their own needs and capabilities rather than starting with the unmet needs of the clients and other stakeholders they serve. The truly great opportunities in the future begin with the unmet needs of others. Look around you as you look ahead.
Then, when we begin to focus on the satisfaction of these unmet needs, we need to look around to see who could help us make an even greater impact in satisfying these unmet needs even more quickly. In the exponentially growing world, we are entering, leverage is a key factor for success - we need to learn how to make a greater impact with fewer resources. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and understand what would motivate them to join forces with us.
And we must not focus solely on the economic motivation of others. Emotions (or affairs of the heart) are ultimately much more powerful motivators. Thus, we need a system that satisfies basic human needs unconditionally.
And as we look around, we should avoid a transactional view of others and instead focus on how to build long-term relationships based on trust. These trust-based relationships will be the key to unlocking the potential for faster mutual learning by tackling significant performance challenges that require joint efforts to solve. If we can unlock this scalable learning potential, we can create even greater motivation to work together over time.
If done right, a glance at the round can unleash a powerful third form of growth. Most institutions today are thinking about growth in terms of two options - make or buy - either grow organically or make a major acquisition. As I have already written elsewhere, there is a third way to grow, which is not yet on the agenda, but which must nevertheless be pursued - growth with leverage. How can we engage with and mobilize a growing number of third parties to deliver value to our customers and stakeholders while generating some of that value for ourselves? In other words, we need to understand to what extent we want to grow, and when it is time to stop.
If we look around us, we can also develop strategies that restructure entire markets or industries rather than being content to simply anticipate and adapt to coming changes.
This is the most ambitious approach to broadening horizons. In times of growing pressure to perform, we understandably begin to be driven by fear. Since fear is generally seen as a sign of weakness, we tend not to acknowledge fear. We hide from our emotions and focus on the avalanche of short-term events and the flood of external data that can distract us from what is going on inside us.
But if we do not understand the emotions that shape our thoughts and actions, we will have little hope of achieving the kind of impact needed to thrive in an exponentially changing world. We must look inward and explore the emotions that drive us. We must feel fear.
Instead of living in denial, we need to accept and understand these emotions. Then we must find ways to develop these emotions so that we can move from fear to hope and excitement. The real goal here is to find the passion of the researcher, which I believe lives in all of us, waiting to be discovered and cultivated.
Let me make one thing clear. I do not believe that we will ever eliminate fear as an emotion within us. Again, this is a natural and understandable feeling in a world of growing pressure to perform. Instead, we need to cultivate other emotions that will help us move forward despite this fear. Those who have the passion of the researcher definitely feel fear - they try things that have never been done before, where there is a high risk of failure. But they are driven by the enthusiasm to make a greater impact, and this helps them to move forward despite the fear that lurks within them.
In this context, we need to understand how broadening our horizons to other dimensions can also help us to confront the fear that may hold us back. As we look ahead, we can begin to see inspiring possibilities that we never thought possible. These opportunities can help to create hope and excitement.
As we look around us, we can begin to see others who are similarly motivated to face these opportunities. We are not alone. We can receive support and energy from others, especially if we focus on building deep relationships based on trust, where we can feel comfortable, share our emotions and be willing to rely on others as we embark on this journey together.
We need to find ways to overcome the growing pressure to perform and take advantage of the exponentially growing opportunities created by the Meta Transition. The only way to achieve this is to broaden our horizons. We must look ahead, look around, and look inwards. And we cannot do just one of these things. We must do all three together.
And we cannot just look. We must act in all three dimensions because the most effective way to learn is through action.
And we should not only do this at the level of our institutions. We must do it as individuals and as a society. The greatest reward will come if we broaden our horizons at all three levels - individuals, institutions and society.
And the rewards will be monumental. We have the chance to achieve far more of our potential if we start to see how, by coming together, we can seize opportunities that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago.