Aristocracy, slavery, patriarchy—these institutions were inhuman at their core. Each was an iron cage—and not always metaphorically. My point: deeply embedded social systems can be changed.
Yet when you look back, you realize these social cankers didn’t yield to utilitarian arguments. In each case, the strong, hard wedge that cracked the foundations of the prevailing social consensus wasn’t a pragmatic argument, but a moral one; not “this doesn’t work,” but “this is wrong.”
Institutions change when we change; when we trade resignation for indignation. It’s time to admit what we have long known to be true: our organizations are at odds with our values—not just in how they foul the environment, misuse our personal data, or corrupt the political process, but in how they treat the human beings whose lives they consume.Gary Hamel’s Powerful Speech: Highlight of the Drucker Forum?
“As I’ve learned by studying and supporting the efforts of Enspiral, a group of New Zealand collective enterprises, solidarity is not the result of world-changingly good ideas; rather, it is the cause. There’s no paucity of solutions to our collective woes: from permaculture and the commons to consensus building and platform cooperatives. What we too often lack are the communities of people to organize and apply these solutions in the real world, from the bottom up. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
1. “From the edges in” over “top-down”
2. Humanity over technology
3. Small experiments over big change initiatives
Perhaps trust and empathy are not as essential today. Then what replaces them? Maybe some other emotions: respect, humility, inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, reasoning, and evidence-based thinking. These emotions are not as raw and intoxicating as trust, fear and hate. However, in an increasingly diverse, interconnected world, they may just be the glue we need to build a better future.