A brief scan of headlines today led to reading some alarming news. The USA has been downgraded from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy” (see Fortune article) and Mikhail Gorbachev made the statement in Time Magazine “It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.”
Never take peace for granted
Temperatures are rising in the world, politically and physically. The word ‘crisis’ has become overfamiliar. But we don’t have to just watch and wait for things to play out. There are ways to actively work towards conflict resolution and to maintain and increase peace and prosperity and it starts with our thought process.
Growing up with parents who got engaged during World War II, I always heard about living through a war and I’ve always wondered if we could avoid recreating that experience. There have been critical moments since then, but world war has never happened. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been setting a symbolic “Doomsday Clock” since 1945. The closer we get to midnight the higher the existential threat, and today we are the closest ever in 60 years at two and half minutes to midnight. The clock is symbolic but it reflects the times.
Choosing to build peace, not survivalism
When we are over-exposed to messages of doom and disaster, it’s tempting to retreat into a cocoon and wait for the storm to pass. Or, for the super rich, according to an article in ‘The Economist’ get busy with “preparedness and survivalism” and that means that “Helicopters are kept fuelled and guns loaded, food and gold is stocked, condos in thick cement bunkers are leased, and residency is sought in far-off New Zealand. “Preppers” see it as a wise investment for when, as they say, the S.H.T.F.”
The alternative is to protect our mental health, and possibly our species, by engaging in the kind of thought process or ‘brainware’ for conflict resolution and that fosters peace and prosperity. These can only be enhanced through creating healthy interdependencies and integration among countries towards a common goal. A common goal, according to the Theory of Constraints, has to emerge from analyzing our deepest drivers, or our needs in terms of our fears (need for control) and our hopes (need for vision) – see Conflict Cloud Thinking Process. These needs are legitimate and must be respected.
An accurate and transparent common goal is the most powerful path to conflict resolution and to fuel a pattern of choices and behaviour that not only maintains peace, it creates a virtuous cycle that builds prosperity. The Thinking Process Tools from the Theory of Constraints strengthen our ability to see the big picture. They’ve been around for 20 years and have led to achieving extraordinary things. Above all, they train us to focus on the needs of all the parties concerned to achieve win-win always.
If we are to avoid a situation of survival of the richest, let’s remember that we can all tap into a resource that is freely available but not easily exploited: our human ability to think and act systemically for the common good.
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About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint . This downloadable novel uses narrative to look at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.