"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
O is for Observing How We All Live. Happy Rhodes: Every step I take, I am life. I am life. Or, as John Muir wrote: “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” The Value Web is one very powerful tool for understanding how we inter-connect, inter-depend and inter-relate. Another beautiful process called the Muir Web was developed by Eric Sanderson for the Mannahatta project. If we were to focus on beavers, the two essential questions of the Muir Web are, “What does a beaver need?” and “What needs a beaver?” Both of these tools point us toward understanding how we relate and can sustain that which is around us and how that which is around us is related to and sustains us. Understand this and you will change what and how you consume. Trust me.
D is Design as the Place to Begin: Freddie Mercury: ”Is this the world we created? What did we do it for? Our current economy of relentless consumption is a lack of design problem. Nobody in their right mind would design a system that is so consistently wasteful and capable of altering the very atmospheric conditions that allow life to thrive. Yet here we are. So, what can we do? Start by designing your own life. Be your own Lean consultant. Cut waste. Keep what gives life. Life creates the conditions conducive to life. Get to work!
E is for the Edges Where Economy and Ecology Meet: Peter Gabriel: “What ever may come and whatever may go that river’s flowing.” Either now or later the economy we’ve built on air will settle back down to it’s earthly foundations. As consumers I suggest we help it along. Invest in that which enriches your Value Web. Find those opportunities services and things which provide value to you and to the people around you while enriching our cities and communities while enhancing the health of the environment that holds us. We’ve been “conquering” and “subduing” nature for long enough. It’s time to go with the flow…
F is for the Flow of Feedback Beneath our Feet: Mike Patton: “It’s it. What is it?” Call it what we will: Karma. What goes around comes around. We are what we eat. We do as we do. We get what we get. Sometimes you get the bear-sometimes the bear gets you. We do not live, experience, think, intend or act in a vacuum. We are living, open systems. That means we affect and are affected by everything that goes on around us. What we consume consumes us. If we pay attention, the feedback we receive-instant or otherwise-is constant and instructive. What we choose to eat, buy, keep and throw away have very real ramifications in our lives and reverberate throughout the Value Web. As a consumer you can ignore “it” and continue being eroded and washed away in a muddied, waste strewn stream or accept and acknowledge “it” and start taking responsibility for “it.”
Check out this article at the Wall Street Journal. I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. Company heads are waiting for governments to give them clear signals on where they should be placing their R&D, development and marketing bets. In essence, they’re asking for regulators and policy makers to tell them the future. It’s a tall order
Still, that is exactly what regulators and policy makers need to be doing. Yet, signals remain mixed. The reason seems to be that our government leaders are looking for signs as well.
Regarding greenhouse gas emissions, the Japanese government, facing a seemingly intractable showdown between business interests (cap GHG emissions at +4% above 1990 levels) and environmentalists (reduce GHG emissions to -25% of 1990 levels) asked the public to help decide. The Japanese public, not surprisingly, chose the middle path option they were offered (-7% from 1990 levels). Let’s remember that under the Kyoto Protocol Japanese GHG emissions rose roughly 6%. Things are not what they seem. Ah, where is the Oracle at Delphi when you need her?
We are at a time where our conventional decision-making capacities are failing. Too many choices, mounting and multiple risks, way too much uncertainty. Business leaders want to move but are looking for direction. Governments wants to act but, they too, are looking for direction. Public opinion is all over the place.
So, what to do? Let’s begin with another question: What sustains? We need to take a look at what holds us together. What supports us? What do we need? What sustains?
We need to look at the Value Web and begin boldly designing from and for abundance. Big business, small business, venture capital, entrepreneurs, NPO’s & NGO’s, school principals, teachers & professors, doctors & nurses, housewives & househusbands, village councils, state, provincial & prefectural assemblies, mayors, city directors, governors, presidents & prime ministers–all of us need to be doing this together. NOW.
Otherwise, we will end up like the three middle school girls’ I remember from my English teaching days in Japan. They were members of the softball team and I was watching their team practice. The coach would line a ball to the shortstop and she would deftly field it and sling it over to first in accordance with her teammates shouts. The girl minding third base did the same. When the coach hit the ball deep to left field, the left fielder chased it down and relayed the ball to the shortstop who then, at the behest of her teammates spun and slung the ball home, to the catcher.
Then, there was this pop fly. A little Texas leaguer that either the girl at third, the shortstop or the left fielder could have called and caught. Instead they all tracked the ball on it’s upward arc and, as it descended, they formed a neat triangle into the middle of which dropped the ball. There was no tried and true response for this situation. The three girls looked at each other. Their teammates stood in confused silence. And, in that moment, nothing happened.
Sound familiar? Who wants the ball?