It’s Only A Crisis If You’re A King.
A lot of people keeping using the word “crisis” to describe our macro economic, social, political changes. This essayist, Anand Giridharadas, whom I’ve written of before, has written a piece around this that captures an interpretation I believe in.
” [What we’re experiencing is a] shift in the nature of power and influence. It goes by many names and takes many forms. It is open-source software and encyclopedias written by crowds and revolutions seeded on Internet portals. It is the idea of the United States “leading from behind” in Libya rather than fiercely commanding. It is newspapers linking to other newspapers on their Web sites rather than walling everything in. It is Kickstarter, Meetup and Ushahidi and any number of other platforms that allow disparate, diffuse strangers to marshal the kind of influence that once only centralized institutions could.”
He doesn’t say this explicitly, but here’s my bottom line. Power is shifting from what I label “power over others” to “power with others”. This affects everything. More of his ideas, here.
Describe Internet 20 years Ago…Ridiculous!
I’m not a big fan of science fiction. And by that I mean to say, I can’t stand it. But I read this magazine my friend Jimmy Guterman said I’d like. It’s called the Paris Review and it’s clearly written by and writers in mind.
One particular passage really caught my eye. It was Gibson talking about the future.
“If you’d gone to a publisher in 1981 with a proposal for a science-fiction novel that consisted of a really clear and simple description of the world today, they’d have read your proposal and said, Well, it’s impossible. Fossil fuels have been discovered to be destabilizing the planet’s climate, with possibly drastic consequences. There’s an epidemic, highly contagious, lethal sexual disease that destroys the human immune system, raging virtually uncontrolled throughout much of Africa. New York has been attacked by Islamist fundamentalists, who have destroyed the two tallest buildings in the city, and the United States in response has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. By the time you were telling about the Internet, they’d be showing you the door. It’s just too much science fiction. They would say, it’s ridiculous; This doesn’t even make any sense.”
The reason it struck me is how much it captured a certain sentiment I have about the work I’m doing. If you’ve read any of my work, you already know that I have a vision for the world that involves a future where value is co-created, and work can be a place where people of shared purpose come together to create more value. If you’ve seen me do keynotes I start to talk about cultures of innovation where people care about the commons and we stop the incessant focus on boxes each person is assigned to do. At times, because I see so little traction around these ideas, even I start think I’m crazy to imagine work as a place where all people can/will thrive and do more, better, together, because of this shared purpose thing. But then I read Gibson’s context and description around the Internet, and I am somewhat renewed. I’m just describing something that seems far-fetched today, but is entirely possible. If you’re a scifi-fan, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the longish interview, here.
Doorways as a Symbol
I read this, and thought it was fascinating…I use doorways a lot in visuals of my talks ..
“Like information in a book, unfolding events are stored in human memory in successive chapters or episodes. One consequence is that information in the current episode is easier to recall than information in a previous episode. An obvious question then is how the mind divides experience up into these discrete episodes? A new study led by Gabriel Radvansky shows that the simple act of walking through a doorway creates a new memory episode, thereby making it more difficult to recall information pertaining to an experience in the room that’s just been left behind.”
Avoiding Tone Deafness
And this actually isn’t well-considered, but it has me thinking.It’s a post on Tone Deafness.
Bof A will join the set of case studies that have already left people shaking their heads this year, along with the disastrous price increase over at Netflix, and HP deciding to exit their hardware business .
The author, McGrath, offers no solutions or perspectives on how to avoid it…but it does have me thinking about what those answers are for me personally, and my role as a Board member for the companies I advise. I welcome your own thoughts on this topic of how we avoid tone-deafness.
I like how you name what we’re experiencing as “the shift from power over others to power with others.” That resonates with me. In my version of what we’re experiencing, the shift is not only in the nature of power and influence, but also in how I perceive what I am in relation to others. Platforms such as those listed by Giridharadas enable me to act together with others, allowing us to exercise more and more influence. However, in my version of this story, the critical shift will ultimately come from a shift in our perception. Power feeds on perception. Our collective perception co-creates our present experience – we are handing the power over to what we keep saying is true. That’s why your work is so important – the more you share your vision, the more your vision will help shift perception. Today, as Giridharadas does, we are more likely to call ourselves a “disparate group of diffuse strangers” connected by one of many platforms, but my hope is that more of us will take your cue and call ourselves “people of shared purpose” and “co-creators”. Once we walk through that doorway (forgetting the room we’ve left behind), my far-fetched vision is that we believe ourselves to be intimately connected, interdependent, living parts of a living, thriving whole. When we consciously choose to interact with each other out of this perception, we will have co-created the future that you so beautifully envision.
perception, we will be co-creating the future that you so beautifully envision.
I didn’t see the common narrative from the pieces I chose for this week’s must-read weekend reading until seeing YOUR comments, so I thank you for helping me see a narrative to this whole thing. I want to live in your vision. I really really do.
Take heart, the vision you describe is in fact a movement in action, showing up in corporate settings, voiced by the courageous. It still feels like a new pair of shoes, but the wearers are across all levels. It begins with the realization that leadership truly does begin with the individual, that vision must be corporately generated and owned, that responsibility must be committed to and completed, and that the only person that can hold us accountable is us. And let us remember to celebrate the successes-if we are not working for the joy of it, then it’s time to fine another venue.
One of the things which I struggle with is remembering not to mistake what is happening right now as the new normal. Just the way it is. We’re always moving somewhere. What is today will be both the same and unimaginably different tomorrow or next year or next century.
I’ve always been a bit of an observer and over the last few years, I am have started seeing more and more people willing to make choices that more closely reflect their values even when that means forgoing things which are easy, fun and perfectly normal. I am hearing more and more voices of people willing to admit that we don’t actually know what we’re doing, but we need to talk about how to figure that out. Those people and voices were almost totally absent just a decade ago except in groups considered to be on the fringe. I think that this change is a very hopeful sign.
Right now, as monied and powered interests are strangling our government and economy and many people’s very lives, it is hard to see how these few voices and random people will result in the sort of change which you envision. Yet great change has often started with small pockets of people carrying some new found truth into the wider world. I agree that change is coming – even if its prospects look a bit dim now. But then again, I too sometimes wonder if perhaps I’ve gone a bit loopy too! Ah well, sometimes what will be will be – might as well enjoy the ride the best you can!
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