grassroot awareness vs. consciousness of the political class

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 | Uncategorized

This week I did a workshop in Torino with the UN Leaders Programme in Torino. Very diverse and interesting group of leaders across all UN organizations from peacekeeping forces to UNDP and UNICEF. Then, the next day i attended a Capitalism 3.0 event in Frankfurt at the occasion of opening the german branch of the Triodos Bank. 350 people came. Entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs. Green people. Lohas people. And other folks with probably wouldn’t fit any of these categories. What links both these meetings, the one in Torino and the one in Frankfurt, is that people basically agree on the same premise: that we cannot solve the our current 21. challenges (3.0 challenges) with old ways of operating (“capitalism 2.0”). What we need is to upgrade our social and economic operating (capitalism 1.0 and 2.0) by creating new forms of collaboration for inventing capitalism 3.0. That’s more or less the shared premise. The issue is not WHETHER—but HOW. Yet, this shared sense is not reflected at all in our current economic-political discourse and the mainstream media. That’s a big gap. A gap between an emerging grass root awareness on the ground and the current consciousness of the political class. Its something we need to work on by creating new 3.0 infrastructures for pioneering our path into future. We can’t just wait until the next disruptive crisis hits. Sooner or later, that’s going to happen anyway…

9 Comments to grassroot awareness vs. consciousness of the political class

Ralf Lippold
December 7, 2009

It is us who shape the future we would like to encounter!

Moving forward into the new age or future so to say, are already visionary leaders, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs. CoWorking and Community Spaces spring up all across the world, from the Team Academy (, to HUB-Network (, Betahaus ( and other places where people seeing the need for changing the game take action.

The question is, “When do the others see the possible possitive future that visionary people already see today? What is when they not connect and play it safe as they have done for decades when the changes where not as obvious?”

Ria Baeck
December 7, 2009

Indeed, the next crisis will happen sooner or later…
I think the gap that you point to here has always been there. The poor, the marginalised, the ones on the fringe have never felt a link with the political class. The only thing is that the gap between poor and rich has grown exponentially; due to the organisation of our money system! So the gap is visible to a lot more people today and more is at stake than ever before.
For myself I decided not to work on the gap but to put all my effort in making the new system happen – and to think, sense and presence what the conditions are – will be – for this system 3.0 to happen. My guess is that we will be amazed and surprised when it happens – it will not be something we can envision today!

Ivan Webb
December 7, 2009

One of the stumbling blocks is the link between
(1) being in charge and
(2) remuneration which leads to
(3) accountability and hence
(4) the need to be “in control”.
This is a tricky little foursome, even for Theory U people* since
prediction is not possible so
(4) no one in control
(3) one cannot be accountable before the event
(2) matching individual remuneration with outcomes is silly
(1) but to a certain extent it can be helpful to have some in charge (leading the conversation)
[* I notice that a lot of the comments of Theory U adherents appear to be criticisms of the old school based on old ways of thinking.]

Nick Gall
December 16, 2009

“Yet, this shared sense is not reflected at all in our current economic-political discourse and the mainstream media.”

Otto, I agree there is lack of a shared sense that “we need is to upgrade our social and economic operating (capitalism 1.0 and 2.0) by creating new forms of collaboration for inventing capitalism 3.0.” But I recently came across an amazing speech by Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England: Rethinking the Financial Network. In it, Haldane sketches out a new approach to the global financial network; one based on viewing it as a living thing–a complex adaptive system:

These similarities are no coincidence. Both events were manifestations of the behaviour under stress of a complex, adaptive network. Complex because these networks were a cat’s-cradle of interconnections, financial and non-financial. Adaptive because behaviour in these networks was driven by interactions between optimising, but confused, agents. Seizures in the electricity grid, degradation of eco-systems, the spread of epidemics and the disintegration of the financial system – each is essentially a different branch of the same network family tree.

This paper considers the financial system as a complex adaptive system. It applies some of the lessons from other network disciplines – such as ecology, epidemiology, biology and engineering – to the financial sphere. Peering through the network lens, it provides a rather different account of the structural vulnerabilities that built-up in the financial system over the past decade and suggests ways of improving its robustness in the period ahead.

I think it’s well worth a read:

I’m also heartened to see that design thinking is being applied to wicked problems such as Capitalism (2.0 to 3.0). Are you doing any work on linking Theory U and design thinking ( I’m trying to adapt design thinking to enterprise architecture (or the other way around :-). Would love to discuss sometime!

— Nick

December 17, 2009

As long as the “thinking world” doesn’t meet body, feeling and spirit in space and time,
the change will always produce and fix up structures/institutions that
need followers.
As long as the “thinking world” is the “leading world” contact and cooperation will be products of this construction.

December 22, 2009

I agree with Otto that our organizations and institutions might sense that the methods used before are no longer adequate in dealing with an interconnected, globalising world. But in my brief experience following my graduate studies, I am disheartened to find that the very organizations that pride themselves on “innovation” are in most cases unwilling to accept the reality that they will at some point need to embrace a different kind of learning. So what does that mean to me?

As I understand it, the goal is to create a self renewing and sustainable economy that mitigates the disadvantages that emerged in Capitalism 1.0 and then 2.0 (as per Otto’s paper).

To begin, our organizations might need to accept the possibility that theoretical thought brings tremendous value, and that theory can’t be seperated from practice. I do not see that happening. Instead, the system continues to drive behavior (of which we are all a part at various levels).

On the bright side, I am beginning to see how my effort in reading and studying theory has begun to change me as an individual. I have gone through a huge change in how I perceive the world and I know that there is so much more personal growth, maturation and change that I can go through. A similar change has to happen at higher levels in organizations, institutions, in governments and in the mental models that we use in dealing with problems like hunger, homelessness, climate etc.

Otto, I have several pointed questions related to my comments above. I’m hoping that you can provide your input.

How do we create new models that have the resilience to withstand the desire to act in outdated methods? Otto, how have you done this in your consulting work and how do you ensure that an organization or institution doesn’t slowly revert back to old ways of perceiving and working over time?

Best Regards,

Dale Hunter
January 3, 2010

Otto, Just a thought about noticing the gap.
I always feel encouraged when I can see the gap (often this is a picture with my inner eye, such as a vertical structure with a large gap/open hole towards the top) because then I know that I am on the way to bridging it.

Just recently I had a similar experience with some research and writing I am doing, where I had a flash of insight on my topic followed shortly afterwards by seeing with my inner eye a traditional jigsaw with some of the pieces only illuminated. My realisation was that I now do indeed have some of the pieces of the puzzle but there are more to go.

What I find affirming about such experiences is that the touch of humour (the jigsaw or structure with gap) seems like a calling card of consciousness at work/play and I receive it as an affirmation that I can solve it/ get there – am part way there already.

Regards from Dale

January 4, 2010

So interesting comments. yes, dale, i definitely connect with your sense of the “calling cards of consciousness,” yes. simon, tough question that you ask: how do we create new models that have the resilience to withstand the desire to act in outdated methods? well, maybe the problem starts with the notion of “creating new models.” maybe instead of creating new models we just need to learn how to open up to that what is and that what wants to emerge?
in regard to my own practice: i of course fail in doing that like everyone else. but then, it does work, it does happen. but its a fragile process…
Nick, thanks for the comment and link to the paper. looks really interesting and i look forward to reading it.

Ralf Lippold
January 9, 2010

Good morning Dale, Otto,

your recent comments bring my personal experience from yesterday’s session with my coach up (the purpose of which is to close the gap between my ability to frame the “right” words with the thoughts from my mind and understanding by the listener/reader).

@Otto, we probably all have learned everything what is to emerge – we only can’t see with our “back-eyes” in the head. So we need some help – either by others who tell us what we can see (from this other perspective) and therefore connect with what we see.

Have we already as much trust built up with that person to allow him/her to help in seeing the larger whole?

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