Our civilization is set to pivot.

I don’t think there’s any need to replay the state of the world. It’s pretty clear we’re in a period of intense change, where the many systems of our society have reached their limits, where our civilization is set to pivot.

Back in 2001, Ervin Laszlo wrote about this in Macroshift. He found a common pattern in civilizations over the course of our history. They set out on a trajectory based on certain combination of technology and mindset. At some point, that trajectory becomes unsustainable and the civilizations reach, like any system, a bifurcation point. Either they breakthrough based on a new combo of technology and mindset or they breakdown. While breakdown is alarming, it’s been pretty common in the history of civilization. The only problem is, this is the first time our civilization has been global. Breakdown would really, really suck.

Today, I believe that the emerging system of social technologies and the corresponding mindset founded in connectedness and purpose are the combination that offer a new, more sustainable trajectory. By social technologies I mean both the tangible ones enabling the mobile, social web, and the intangible ones like facilitation, inquiry, design, engagement and organization.

Perhaps the most simple and compelling reason is that where we find our selves is a product of what we’ve created in the past. Similarly the only way we can fix it is by creating new things that put us on that new trajectory. For that to happen, we need to move fast and from a different place than we did when we created this mess. And that’s where the social technologies and mindset come in. Social technologies give us unprecendented capacity to create effectively and efficiently. The mindset, on the other hand, gives us the presence and perspective to do it more constructively.

So that’s how I think we’ll make our pivot. Ventures do it all the time on their path to success. Civilizations have proven they can do it to. Now it’s our turn to do it together.

From where I sit, I know we need to, I think we can, I believe we will.

Enhanced by Zemanta

In the midst of a macroshift.

“It’s clear that the financial system built on the mindset of the last few decades is unravelling.”

Quotes like these are increasingly common in the media. So what is the mindset we need to build the new system? In his prescient book Macroshift, Ervin Laszlo suggests what I think would be a good start.

From competition… to reconciliation and partnership

From greed and scarcity… to sufficiency and caring

From outer “authority”… to inner “knowing”

From separation… to wholeness

From mechanistic systems… to living systems

From organizational fragmentation… coherent integration

Macroshift by Ervin Laszlo
Macroshift by Ervin Laszlo

The book’s a fascinating read on the interplay of mindset and technology in the evolution of civilizations – which brings up another fascination of mine – the role of technology, social tech in particular, in shaping the new systems of our society. Watching the role of social media in the election campaigns, disaster response, and civic engagement has been fascinating and my explorations into ‘open’ point to this new mindset already at play.

Back to Laszlo, we are currently in what he described as the Critical (or “Chaos”) Phase.

Changed social and environmental relations put pressure on the established culture, placing into question time-honored values and worldviews and the ethics and ambitions associated with them. Society becomes chaotic in the chaos theory sense of the term. Society does not lack order but exhibits a subtle order that is extremely sensitive to fluctuations. The evolution of the dominant culture and consciousness – the way people’s values, views and ethics respond and change – determine the outcome of the system’s chaos leap (the way its developmental trajectory forks off).

This forking off is the daunting point in the history of civilizations. They either “Breakdown” or “Breakthrough”. With our civilization now on a global scale, we can’t afford to “Breakdown”. We’re in this thing full on now and these next months/year and are as Laszlo describes “critical”. What a time to be alive.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]