Creating a future for our economy, our planet and our society might seem like a big thing but in the end its about commitment and the use of technology and our knowledge for good.
I can not count how many times there have been talks about sustainability, responsible investment, social entrepreneurship, inclusive future, etc. going on. My problem is that these small steps are just way too small when it comes to a holistic approach to tackle our problems worldwide. I don’t need to mention that there are still millions starving to death, dying because of lack of (clean) water and other easily preventable causes. But we got so much potential to change many of these basic problems as we are living in a world with exponential growth and virtually unlimited technological possibilities.
Now due to corona we see a big shift from “business as usual” and “it is all about money” to a “human life also has a value” and “we need to protect the weak”. But will this be sustainable and really cause a long-term shift to the positive? Let me give you some thoughts on this.
Our Actions – Our Inaction
As it is with most things in politics and human social life, we never look at the real facts. Feelings and social media are falsifying our thoughts and reactions. We tend to overreact in a short time but underestimate the long-term impact of our actions.
We have seen this already in action. When we look at past numbers of air traveling, most people knew that this will have a negative long-term impact but the short term incentive of Instagram pictures and the cocktail on the beach outweighs the negative long term impact.
Humans also like short term incentives more. An experiment showed that people rather take a small amount of money rather than waiting for 1 week to get significantly more money. This can be also seen now with the corona crisis, and we can see a lot of parallelism in this with the money case before.
What should be changed?
When looking at change management and the global impact of our actions, we first need to see why it is not working as it should. The humans are in themselves first of all selfish. The bigger the thread gets, the more they focus on themselves.
But when we know about these phenomena, why don’t we develop solutions and holistic approaches, which tackle the bigger problems worldwide in using this human mechanism. We always want to push the donkey forward instead of thinking about a solution about how we can use the intrinsic motivation of the donkey to do what we want.
Problem No. 1 – No Vision
First, we see that there is no common global vision. We lack of an understanding of what we are thriving for. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the UN are already a good step forward. We have seen such initiatives all over the planet, but we also need to be realistic and look at which states, which governments, etc. dedicate their actions according to this.
There needs to be easy to understand and easy to follow a vision that everybody can relate to. We can not force people to learn different goals and different objectives. We need a common Vision!
Problem No. 2 – No Holistic Planning
When it comes to policies and international policymaking, we tend to see a very much siloed approach. Especially in bigger institutions or governments, the complexity of the systems is big, and we tend to have a lot of dependencies. When you turn one gear, dozens and hundreds of other gear also need to be adjusted (but mostly they don’t do it)
Holistic planning is also crucial when it comes to the transformation of companies. Most companies fail terribly in their digital transformation because they just tackle small aspects, and they forget about the big picture. So a key objective will be to use our knowledge, technology, networks, and many more aspects of finding holistic solutions to tackle our current problems. A strategic objective and planning are there very crucial for a long-term success.
Problem No. 3 – No Commitment
As mentioned before, Homo sapiens is very self-centric. This means also for decision-makers this quality mostly falls short as staying in office, having power, or even gaining power is more important than doing good to others or helping others who might replace them as they might be better suited in these times.
This problem will also result in the commitments being made. The more vulnerable a system feels to change (losing jobs, being incompetent, showing weaknesses, etc.) the more such a system will stick to its roots. Because it is always easier to change nothing than actually taking the risk of saying “yes” to something that has not been there.
So we need to make sure that a broad educational basis is met, that we are following a strong regime in helping people to upskill and feel comfortable with the changing environment in which they have to move. Then we will see the rates and amounts of commitment rising. We have seen this many times in history. As long as most people didn’t understand what is going on, everybody was against it.
But we need this worldwide commitment, and we also need to make sure that people have easy access to these topics. Right now we are in times with plenty of information available everywhere. But sometimes we don’t even know what we are looking for, we don’t know whom to trust, and we don’t know what we need to know. This topic is so crucial as we will never achieve change without having basic education ready for the masses. Digital education, education about future topics, and also the skills to shape the future will be necessary for each one we are having.
It is a bit of a utopia to think that we can change the whole world, that we can give every one of the almost 8 billion people in this world the necessary education we need. But as we also luckily see and know from corporate change, this is also not necessary.
We need to have 10-20% of the people, companies, organizations, and governments fully committed to making a meaningful change in the world. When we think about the possibilities we would have in the short and midterms to eradicate hunger, to give everyone access to education, to be respectful with resources and our planet. Then I would say, that this is worth following on.
BUT … and that is a huge but.
We tend to see the topics isolated and not really related. When we start thinking in holistic solutions, when we start connecting the dots worldwide, when technology is there to help us guide in the complexity, then we will be able to tackle our problems, and we can #bethechange we want to see. The corona crisis could be a start of a new world, and we need to think about how we want to proceed after we come back to work, how we need to shape the world to make it a better place for everyone, and how we all can profit from the technological progress.
Lets get **it done!