The NYC General Assembly are angry. Hundreds of them were recently arrested on Brooklyn Bridge as they protested on behalf of all those who feel that “corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.”
It’s not surprising they are protesting. We live in in a world where financial institutions still believe they are free to take systemic risks at our expense because the government will eventually bail them out. But thanks to the advances of contemporary science, we are understanding more and more that, apart from risks, our entire reality is systemic. We just haven’t learned yet to understand it that way. But the truth remains that any attempt to govern countries or manage organizations that is not based on this awareness is doomed to create damage.
What would happen if we all embraced a systemic vision of the world, if we all started thinking and acting with a systemic awareness?
Most probably, we would not put up anymore with the lack of intelligence that permeates the way politics and businesses are run today. We would not see as inevitable that insurance companies and Big Pharma control our health. We would stop trusting the claims made by the financial pundits and Wall Street wizards about how they boost our economy. We would stop believing that only our individual efforts and personal drive will, eventually, be the cause of our success as a country. And we would stop believing that by competing with each other, one day we could be part of that 1% of the population that owns 80% of the wealth. (See 11 charts about wealth distribution in the USA.)
The way out of the crisis: the new economics
In his monumental work ‘The New Economics’, W. Edwards Deming states that ‘It would be better if everyone would work together as a system, with the aim for everybody to win. What we need is cooperation and transformation to a new style of management.’
We have to transform the way we are, and we have to do so through better thinking. Never before have we enjoyed such freedom to communicate and innovate. But in order for industries to innovate and prosper sustainably, they must be supported by infrastructures provided by governments. As Domenico Lepore puts it, these governments must be “cognizant that their role is to facilitate the growth of talent, protect everybody’s freedom to participate and venture, and help the weak and the poor to live with dignity.”
In order to live and prosper in this world of unprecedented interconnection, we have to learn at a much faster pace and we can only do it if we improve our ability to leverage our intellect. The people on Brooklyn Bridge were angry, but they should also know that the knowledge we need to prosper sustainably exists. It can be acquired, and it can be applied. It’s an education none of us can afford to do without.