Here in Bologna with my fellow members of The Value Web board, I have taken this first cut at crafting a manifesto of sorts for our group…more to come, but for now:
Complexity; it is a product of a riot of influences coming together, each representing – on their own – a web of interconnections in themselves. As we see a steadily rising global population, accumulating environmental impacts and pervasive political and economic misalignment across the world, the many forces that drive, and are driven by, complexity collide across borders, across industries and across political, economic and ideological boundaries.
Parallel to this explosion in complexity is an intensification of impact for both action and inaction by decision-makers who attempt to plot a course for themselves, for their organizations and their countries. Decisions made by one group has an unexpected impact on others, or combine with the decisions of connected but independent actors to create counterproductive or unpredictable results; or no results at all, where, perhaps, urgent action is needed.
In this context – where climate change requires global coordination across nations and industries, where demand for food, energy and water collides, where one country’s policy can trigger another’s economic disaster – we see the staggering deficiency of the decision processes used by today’s leaders. They are linear, where issues are organic and non-linear. They are isolated and discrete, where impacts are connected and reinforcing. In short, they represent a social technology which is a result of an age of simplification, repetition and industrialization.
We are not in a crisis of technology, of environment or of conflict. We are increasingly the victims of crises triggered by failures of decision-making; failures to create dialogue and understanding, failures of holistic consideration of interconnections and influences, and failures of decisiveness – taking action where and when it is needed on emergent truths and evident threats.
We believe, therefore, that what the world needs is an urgent redesign of its decision-making processes. Our vision is to inject new tools and social technologies, which reflect the need for understanding and cooperation, into the world’s decision-making gatherings in order to transform decision-making processes through collaboration.
We believe that the tools and methods we have used to facilitate productive dialogue across stakeholders who share an urgent need for change can and must be used in fora where decisions about our shared future are made, casting aside the stultified, ossified and increasingly anachronistic customs and processes that prevent effective, coordinated action on the issues of our age.