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Reflections 14th February

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I’ve found myself thinking about adaptation this last week. Or perhaps more precisely, how much we adapt.

In some areas, we’ve adapted well, such as home working although in others we’ve proved impatient, such as holidays and travel and in others, such as considering the root causes of why we are where we are we are highly resistant. Following on from “research groups” at Westminster, we now have “recovery groups”, as though somehow we can analyse away the challenges we face. I wonder whether dinosaurs ever had “meteor research groups”. If they did, they never made it to a meteor recovery group.

I think we are at the complex interesction of three major forces; firstly the structural challenges we face – climate change, population change, biodiversity loss and other major issues we can do little about in the short term, and where we need actions now to mitigate in order to give those who follow a chance to recover. These are long term issues requiring visionary leadership.

Secondly, the strategic and organisational design challenges. We have gone for decades now with people serving the economy to the increasing benefit of a very few, whilst we have starved our public services and exploited natural resources for short term gain and we can no longer do that. The changes it requires will be massive for those who have benefitted, and require more of those who have been used to “regular jobs”.

Thirdly, the psychological pressures on all of us. Whether we are leaders, or the led, we face huge disruption to “business as usual”. We have large cohorts of people who are questioning their own status in this changing world, who are unsettled by uncertainty, and above all else feel that things just aren’t “fair”. It’s a volatile mix, and at the heart of the factionalism and nationalism that we are seeing.

We cannot react our way out of the challenges we will face, and as we have seen nor can centralised control help us much. Change happens at the edge, and by the time the centre understands it, the change has moved on and morphed. The centre just can’t keep up.

The responsibility lies with each of us. Nobody is coming to rescue us, so we have to improve our ability to adapt, not wait to be told. We will be helped by taking charge – of our own vision, our learning, and our relationships. Contributing to our communities, and recognising those who are really important; those we have lumped together as “critical workers”. Funding them.

There are major changes ahead for all of us.

Books I’ve enjoyed this week.

Mission Economy. Mariana Mazzucato. I found this an ambitious and compelling read. A real call to action that is as realistic as it is ambitious.

Think Again. Adam Grant. I found this sat well with Mission Economy, and the times we are in. When things are ok, we are lazy thinkers and rarely question accepted truths. Now is not such a time, and this is a good provocation to us.

Articles

The Social Life of Forests. New York Times. We have so much to learn from Nature on many things, including how to work together. Great article.

Seeing Differently. The work of Nils Voelcker, seen in in Alan Moore’s “Beautiful Business” newsletter. Turning extraordinary things into art. It’s a state of mind.

Personal Renewal. An article by John Gardner from 1990, seen in the FS Blog. This resonated strongly for me with Richard Rohr’s work I mentioned recently. We don’t have to live all of our life with the same beliefs.

A Quote

“The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Amen to that.

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About the Author

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Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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