As a Futurist, one of the things I've discovered over the years is that cycles -- life patterns where you pretty much do the same thing on the regular --- are fairly common. People embrace cycles because they are familiar and that they offer a sense of security in a world that often seems strange, uncomfortable and dangerous. Even if those cycles are dangerous, some people conclude that "better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." This kind of processing leads abused spouses to stay in abusive relationships. It leads corporation executives to bankrupt a company. It can even lead grown adults to say climate change is a hoax. While cycles are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, we are living in a time where we need to go above and beyond all that we know. There is a tool that can be used to break the power of habit and cycle and help us go above and beyond. It's a super power most of us have, but perhaps have under developed as a skill. That super power is vision.
Vision, the ability to imagine and see things that others cannot and the ability to turn it into a reality, is usually left to politicians, preachers or CEOs as a tool of the ambitious and well connected. The truth is, all human beings have been born with it as part of the human package. To what degree we develop it usually determines the quality of our lives. Here are some of the basic benefits of vision....
Vision can be a powerful unifier. I would submit that when a country, city or community is in discord, the lack of a common vision is usually at the center of the problem. Vision doesn't mean everyone agrees on an item. It means that the vision or a view of the road ahead is so big, inclusive, affirmative and compelling, people are willing to put aside their differences to make that one thing happen, first and foremost.
Vision is positive. There are people who unify their communities through fear. They tell you about all the things you should be afraid of. They tell you about the "others" and what those others will do to you. They tell you of the loss you will suffer from the others. That fear directly affects your quality of life. Vision is just the opposite. Vision leans on the benefits of a shared idea. It thrives when more people are able to participate in it. In quantum mechanics, vision is the vehicle for The Observer Effect --- the observed is affected by the observer. Fear begats more fear and affects the quality of our experience. While a positive vision has a direct affect on the quality of our lives. We are affecting that life through how we envision it.
Vision makes you put in work. Most people may not look at vision as a process, but it is. It requires you to flesh out a passing thought or idea. It demands that you think it through so that it's more than a wish or a dream, but an action plan. Vision requires you to make, at least, a mental commitment to something that used to be a fringe blip on your radar. Developing the vision means you are now committed to seeing the vision through. It will take a few changes along the way, but now it won't be left to chance.
Unfortunately, many people around us have reduced vision to personal gain, materialism and political gamesmanship. In the old world, this approach created a gain for a few, but led all of us to an existential crisis called climate catastrophe. The new world we are shifting into requires us to be magicians --- turning poison into medicine, conflict into companionship and profit into abundance. It is the super power that gives us the greatest chance to thrive and succeed in a time of climate crisis. Vision is the tool for this level of work.
Most of us know all the things you're against. Chances are you've posted it on social media at one time or another.
But what are you for? The essence of that is your vision.
Your definition of "winning" in the modern world is in need of an overhaul. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
What does "winning" mean to you? There is an intense debate going on across the globe as to what "winning" or victory is in a society. For the past few hundred years, it has been loosely defined as beating the competition, the gain of resources or materials over others and a superior quality of life as compared to our neighbors. But over the past year, there has been a serious "come to Jesus" re-thinking as to what winning is in the world as we collectively face the greatest "loss" modern humans have ever had to face, namely, an extinction level event called climate crisis. While climate crisis is not explicitly mentioned in these discussions, it has been a major catalyst as to why we're having these conversations now.
The Business Roundtable, a gathering of the biggest corporations in the US, made a declaration that corporations should serve their communities as well as their owners. This is a dramatic change of statement from the idea that the purpose of the corporation is to "maximize stockholder profits" -- to win.
Billionaires are now openly voicing ideas of re-imagining the very system that made them rich.
The term "re-imagining capitalism" is trending, and not just with college students, but with conservative think tanks and politicians.
Again, these conversations are suddenly trending, not necessarily because of climate crisis only, but, in my opinion, because of the narrow, unsustainable definition of winning we've embraced over the years. My anecdotal observation of our narrowly defined winning idea goes something like this...
OLD WINNING CONCEPTS
Some get. Most don't.
Scarcity over abundance.
There's not enough for everyone.
My winning means you have to lose.
One guy at the top with everyone else at the bottom.
NEW WINNING CONCEPTS
We can design systems where there is enough for everyone.
Abundance over scarcity.
Instead of winners, there is winning.
Lateral management models of participation.
I would submit that we've gotten so used to the repeated messages of the old winning model, we believe its a truth of life. The real truth is that it is a choice we've made that we haven't provided a reasonable challenge to.
I don't believe in dropping this argument into 18th , 19th and 20th century political philosophy boxes because, I believe our best ideas are still in front of us. We are no longer tied to concepts created in an entirely different word. We are free to explore new, more enlightened possibilities.
If this sounds like pie in the sky utopia to you, it may be because your brain can't process that we really can re-imagine how things work when we develop a different concept of winning. My data shows the current definition has crushed imagination, hampered large scale innovation, elevated the scarcity economic model over the abundance model, demonized visionary thinking and reduced human value. The evidence is all around us.
It's time to unleash the full power of human potential to think of better ways forward. If this becomes a political issue, it will be subject to the games politicians play in utilizing fear instead of courage, doubt instead of assuredness and loss instead of gain.
Perhaps your current definition of winning needs to catch up with the massive self-examination that's going on now of how to push the reset button in the face of crises we've never seen before. Calling all creative thinkers....
Population bust, and our badly managed, poorly understood immigration challenge. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
I recently heard Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders say something that was …..well, lacking. He said:
"The planet cannot sustain this (human population) growth. I realize this is a poisonous topic for politicians, but it's crucial to face,"
A more accurate answer is that just the opposite is happening. And the challenge isn't necessarily about the number of people we have. It's about how we've organized things.
There is a population bust happening in the world that’s gaining speed. Most if not all Western states, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and now in many parts of Asia, are no longer having enough children to replace the number of people dying. This is called a population bust. On the surface, this would seem like a good thing to those folks who believed our world was on the brink of disaster due to overpopulation. But that's not the case. Fewer people being born means fewer people to help fund a society’s tax base.
The world is aging rapidly. There are fewer young workers in the world to support a society, particularly in the West. That's being quickened with the rise of automation and the need for fewer workers. A diminishing tax base means fewer people to help support rapidly aging communities. The growth of the elderly with a shrinking tax base could lead to a collapse of how a society works, as it is organized right now.
The economic strain on caregivers for the elderly. With fewer services, more of the economic burden of caring for the elderly will fall on the shoulders of caregivers, namely, the children of the elderly. With ongoing economic inequity, that strain will only increase over the years.
Immigration can help provide economic stability to a country following the path of population bust…., Leaders that demonize "cultural others" for the sake of gaining political advantage are basically taking their country on a path to ruin. A more sophisticated approach to immigration is not that hard. In fact, it will be needed in the face of migrating populations seeking to escape the devastations caused by climate crisis. The US will experience it this year as Bahamians seek refuge from the crisis of hurricane Dorian and Central Americans seek to escape the hardships of drought caused by climate crisis. This is just the begining. A grown up, robust immigration approach that addresses the bust and deals with climate change migration is needed from visionary and empowered leadership. Unfortunately, no one seems to be in a hurry to develop that kind of leadership yet. Watch South Korea. They will become the poster child for what to do or what not to do when it comes to immigration reform.
And for those of you still deeply married to the idea that too many people are causing climate crisis.....
Climate crisis isn't about too many people. It's about how we've organized resources. We grow enough food right now to feed everyone 10 times over. The real challenge is how we've organized resources. We could have a fourth of the people we have in the world right now and still be in climate crisis because of how we exploit land, minerals, the environment in general as well as other people. Comprehensive immigration reform can be the lead in for re-thinking how things work.
Creative thought, new values, advanced technology and an entirely new way of looking at immigration could set us up for a more efficient and effective way to manage societies and expectations. Watching from the sidelines using a 20th century lens for viewing is not a recipe for success. Let's do better!
Five big and brave suggestions on how you and your family can take advantage of a potential economic downturn. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
At a conference of real estate and housing professionals last September, I said that the US would be in recession in about 18 months. No self-respecting futurist would usually throw out time frames like that, but I was caught in the moment and wanted to be clear. Someone asked me what I based my prediction on, and I gave them my top three reasons:
More accurately, poor leadership. Recessions aren't natural occurrences like the changing seasons from summer to fall. They occur because we have made the poor leadership decision of thinking that the boom/bust cycle is the best that we can do as a society...
Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust.....
In a future article, I'll go into why that fallacy is keeping us from profound innovation, creativity and breakthrough discoveries. But today, I'm going to share five things that are trending that can make the coming economic time a window of opportunity. This is an extremely important conversation because most of you are carrying really heavy debt loads and will be under some pressure....
You're going to hear the usual suspects tell you to pay down debt, spend only on the essentials and wait this one out, but the truth is, many people still haven't recovered from the last one....
So, yeah, do those things as recommended by the "experts", but why not also go big and brave? Here are five big and brave things you could do right now to get in front of something that might happen....
1. Join a food cooperative. There are many organic food cooperatives all over the place that are looking to get their product to people. These cooperatives can help in your overall food budget. Your cooperative can be as simple as pairing up with other backyard farmers and doing trade. Even more, it could be an effective hedge against food price challenges as climate crisis disrupts world food supply chains.
2. Get rid of your vehicle. For the first time since the automobile age emerged, the number of registered drivers are going down. Why? Because ride sharing and the coming autonomous automobiles are making it smarter and cheaper to get around. without owning a car. This becomes even more important as more people flock to urban areas where space and parking are limited at best. It's just an expense you actually could get by without. You can thank the evolution of AI for this option.
3. Retire overseas. If you're at that age where you're living on a limited pension and you're out of the workforce, consider other countries where you can live on the cheap and like a king.
4. Join a prayer/mindfulness/meditation group. The last thing you need is unchecked anxiety to creep into your household at a time of challenges. There's no substitute for taking care of your spirit in the company of others in tough times. Developing friendships, getting great ideas and sharing suggestions can also come from your time with these people. Don't go into a cave. Reach out, instead.
5. Create partnerships with your rivals. During a recession, people still need services....they just need them cheaper. Creating partnerships with colleagues means you can team up with them to service more people but at a cheaper rate. Sure, it's not the same as when you would do it by yourself, but having partners means you can bring more services to the table and, in theory, get more gigs.
Don't shrink...think! This is the time to be brave and bold in a world going through massive transition.
I'm going to expand on the work of writer Don Miguel Ruiz who originally wrote "The Four Agreements". His four agreements are:
I'd like to update those agreements to meet the extraordinary time of change we are in right now. In a Pentagon report released a few years ago, it said "the next few years will decide the next 100". I agree. Climate crisis, social disruption, technological advancement have all converged at this moment in time. Here are the new agreements for times like these.
1. Be impeccable with truth. Truth is that cocktail that combines wisdom, data, facts, empathy and mother wit. It's shaken, not stirred. It's not absolute, but it does require absolute and rigorous work by you, it's champion. In my work as an analyst and Futurist, I have learned that the single greatest challenge I face in sharing information is the preponderance of people who rely on scant information then take a deep dive into the pool of confirmation bias. All of us do it, but social media has made that indulgence more accessible to more people -- especially to the ignorant. Truth is not only our greatest ally in navigating new environments, but it should be cherished as our greatest treasure. It's pursuit will save us in the end. Ongoing lies and deception over an extended period of time will collapse any relationship, community or society. Truth is not a static position, but a way of life.
2. Take everything personally. We live in a time where you are encouraged to see yourself separate from the events that your senses are detecting. You are told you didn't see what you just saw, so you don't have to worry about it. This detachment from the environment allows us to treat the planet, nature, animals , and other human beings with a cool detachment and indifference. Not taking things personally has led to an extinction level event called climate crisis. Taking everything personally means that you now realize all of your actions and your words matter and have an effect.
3. Assume it's up to you and others like you. "Someone else will do something about it". Famous last words for a country or a nation watching the slow drip of diminishing voter participation, distraction via our tech tools and indifference to the sufferings of other human beings. Assuming that creating a transformed world is up to you and others like you not only makes you personally responsible, but it gives you a voice and a stake in the world you live in. The future is determined by those bold enough to be present right now. Fortune favors the bold.
4. Go above and beyond "your best". Often when I hear people talk about their best, they speak of it in the context of what they know or what is normal or expected inside of convention. But what if we don't know what our best is because our imagination is on "lockdown" and we're too tied to what we've done in the past? Maybe we don't really know what our best is because we've never ventured out further than the normal. I often say that this is not a time for us to "think outside the box". This is a time to recognize there is no box. We are no longer tethered to the old ideas and are free to create new ones. I would submit that going above and beyond all that you know will take you to an open field where your best is still yet to be discovered.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary agreements. I submit mine.
Identicide. The reason behind the madness in our society and how climate crisis could help create something better. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
Some of you are going to take issue with what I'm about to say. My early apologies, but I hope you'll take the time to think this one through. I'm riffing off the work of Professor Monica Duffy Toft at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. I'm leveraging her work because it matches my own. She asks the premier question of our time: The white male Christian identity the US has of itself is running into the reality of a diverse, feminine, multi-cultural population. Many Futurists like myself saw this coming years ago, but became worried that we, as a country, have not developed tools to navigate this level of change.
What happens to a country when its core national identity — its preferred image of itself in terms of race or religion — doesn’t match its demographic reality?
This life threatening moment to an established identity is called "identicide". Deep and abiding racism, misogyny, income inequality and racial violence can all be traced back to the idea of some people holding on to a certain cultural and racial identity (even if they are not part of that racial identity) in the face of a different rising reality. The reason it is bubbling up now is pure demographics. In the US, the widest range of cultural groups from around the world are not coming.....they are already here. Combine income inequality with our penchant to "other" ethnic groups that aren't like us and you have a toxic brew. We are not unique in this challenge. History is littered with destructive, messy cautionary tales when a country doesn't respond well to demographic change.
This may look like we're staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, but let me provide another vision from a Futurist's perspective. The only emotion that is stronger than fear is hope. In a society that encourages taking sides, I'd like to encourage us to take a stand. When there is a common challenge or "foe", people tend to lose their "us and them" baggage, roll up their sleeves and go to work. This shared or common work has the tendency to build alliances, common goals and often, a new national identity.
I see climate crisis as that opportunity.
Yes, climate crisis threatens our very existence. Yes, it has and will devastate our planet. But history has also shown that humans can rally under real and immediate pressure. Let me clarify myself even further. I would never wish the challenges of climate crisis on anyone. However, if we look at it for what it is, an opportunity, it can become more than our worst nightmare. This is not just about going to another workshop or conference. There is a mistaken belief that simply feeling better about a crisis through dialogue alone resolves it (ie: seminars, conferences, protests, rallies, etc). The technosphere that keeps the root problems on automatic pilot is never considered. However, working together on a common challenge increases the odds of identifying those root causes and dramatically increases the odds of finding solutions to them. This is what I call, re-imagining the future.
For several years, I taught a leadership summer course at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban and Pietermariztburg, South Africa. It was there I learned about the ancient African concept of Ubuntu -- the idea that sharing success as well as challenges was a much more efficient and effective way to navigate crises of scale. This tool of Ubuntu suggests that establishing a shared identity has the power to galvanize resources, people and vision at a time when you need all shoulders at the wheel. We have untapped abundance, prosperity and possibilities in this potential.
As with all great teams, it takes amazing coaches, trainers and support personnel to build this new way forward in the face of a stunning number of existential threats. We may not survive as a nation. We may not survive as a planet. But climate crisis is the rallying point that gives us a fighting chance to re-imagine a new way to live and jettison some of the baggage that got us to this moment of crisis in the first place. That also may mean letting go of a national identity myth. Make no mistake....people are deeply married to their victimhood and are quick to make enemies of the "other".....real or perceived. But to not give ourselves that shot at pushing the reset button and....perhaps....saving the day through a more powerful collective identity, would truly be a crime against humanity. It's hard, complicated, sometimes nasty work. But for once in our human existence, let's go above and beyond all that we know, and, as Psychologist Dr. Peggy Mitchell Clark would say "let's do something different for a change".
Six reasons why we are "stuck" when it comes to addressing climate crisis. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
This summer gave me the chance to read George Marshall's seminal book "Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change". It provides a reference point as to why we are playing the violin while Rome burns ( literally). Even more, his work brought me back to my third book "Think This/Not That: It's Time To Update Your Conventional Wisdom". Both of our books point to some particulars of human behavior that work against us in a time of crisis. But both of our books also point to how we can navigate around these obvious cultural and psychological road blocks. Let me share some things from both books.
Confirmation bias is huge. Don't argue with people on Facebook over climate crisis or anything else for that matter. Contrary to what we may feel, many people are not looking to become more enlightened. They are simply seeking to confirm their already tightly held biases. They see their position as identity, thus, they see someone who attacks their ideas are actually attacking their person. All of us are guilty of this challenge at some point, but some are more militant about their "rightness" than others. Many people seek information that confirms their positions, not expand their capacity. Climate crisis challenges many people's personal world view.
Language. There is a specific reason why I have chosen to use the term climate crisis rather than climate change or global warming. Language must be more precise about what is actually happening. Climate change suggests something as gentle as seasonal change from summer to fall. Global warming sounds like a problem that can be handled by turning up the air conditioning. Climate crisis more accurately describes the fact that we are facing an extinction level event that will affect us NOW, not years in the future. In fact, describing the current crisis as an ELE may be even MORE accurate.
Garbage in. Garbage out. Our societies have embraced a lot of untrue, shoddy, dangerous and malicious conventional wisdom over the years. "Every man for himself". "He who dies with the most toys, wins". "Rugged individualism". These kinds of beliefs have led to bad policy, laws and infrastructure. Those ideas supported the decision to bury the climate crisis research and predictions back in the 1970s -- when we had a chance to get in front of this extinction level event. A foundation of bad beliefs creates a really bad decision making process.
The facts get in the way. I am particularly guilty of this. My belief is that facts are enough to convince the average person the urgency of something. Truth us, when I started sharing my personal stories, people were able to see themselves, emotionally, in the story. Facts are add-ons. Stories that speak to people's emotions are much more effective in helping others see your ideas. We may not all share the facts, but we all share stories of trial, challenge, failure and success. Those human experiences bind us and help us see our common journey.
Bias against the indigenous. There has been a long and intended violent campaign against indigenous cultures and their wisdom. Now, it appears the very things indigenous cultures were ridiculed for --- sustainable living, communal environments, belief systems in harmony with nature --- are now being proposed as ways to deal with climate crisis. The bias against those ancient ways must be reversed immediately. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs went as far, just a few years ago, to fund an effort to recover indigenous wisdom.
Climate crisis is an asymmetrical threat. Most of us have grown up with linear threats --- a problem emerges, we send in the right resources, then we resolve the problem and go back to our way of life. Climate crisis has no precedent in our current human existence. It doesn't behave in a linear fashion. It's all over the place, coming at us from everywhere. We haven't developed the skills to manage this kind of threat. It's not that we can't, but if we keep looking at it from a linear perspective, we'll miss the most important point of the crisis --- we have to rethink our human experience to win.
There's so much more to share here, but allow me to suggest this. Yes, we are wired to avoid this kind of crisis, but, the beautiful thing about humanity is that we have the ability to develop new neurons in our brain and re-wire. That is our great challenge and our great opportunity.
Seven things about climate crisis that you probably didn't know, but should. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
You've probably heard the news by now, but it needs repeating: last month was the hottest June for the world on record. Period. July is setting up to continue the string of record setting temperatures around the planet. And as the climate scientists keep reminding us...we're just getting started. I didn't share this information to depress you, but to provide you with some additional information about this existential crisis that seems to be picking up in speed and intensity. As a Futurist, my job is to make sure you have the best researched information that exists so that you'll make good informed decisions going forward. To that end, let me provide you with seven pieces of data that you may not have known about this crisis that will affect your entire life.
1. There is a 1 billion dollar climate denial industry . Books, movies, papers, lecturers, think tanks....a lot of money is being invested into denying climate change is actually a thing. Most of this money comes from sources that have a lot of money tied up in the fossil fuel industry.
2. We may be wired to avoid climate crisis. In his book "Don't Even Think About It" Environmentalist George Marshall points to research that indicates our brains can't wrap itself around the enormity of a threat to our existence, so we do nothing. I would challenge his conclusions only by saying we end up doing nothing because the climate denial industry has muddied the waters, thus, we end up saying "I don't know who to believe". Then , we end up doing nothing.
3. The effects of climate crisis seem to be happening a lot faster than what the experts expected. This is especially true for the oceans. They seem to be warming quite a bit faster than anyone expected. We're also seeing more extremes play out to climate crisis related-disaster at the rate of at least once a week in the world.
4. We need to move the conversation from climate crisis mitigation to climate crisis adaptation. There is a growing consensus from the scientific community that we're past the point of being able to reduce our carbon emissions and should now start putting our money and investments ALSO into creating adaptive cities, communities and other ways to ensure human survival and quality of life in a dramatically hostile world.
5. Our silos are literally killing us. There are so many causes that have champions. It's not that those causes aren't important, but our failure to tie them into climate crisis is mind-boggling. Yes, it's possible that we can save the honey bees through our non-profit focused on creating honey bee sanctuaries. But if we don't adapt to climate crisis, saving the bees won't matter.
6. Carbon capture technology is still a long way out. Even more, it lacks political will. By the time it can get some, we'll be way past the point of being able to make a meaningful dent in the process.
7. Communities hold the key. While our governments are sidelined, it will take communities to help us prepare for a dramatically different world.
There is hope. Climate crisis provides us with the greatest opportunity to push the reset button on the ideas that brought us to this point in the first place. Let's take advantage of that opportunity.
Are you becoming economically irrelevant? Take the quiz and find out….A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
I know, I know….you’ve got enough threats on your plate to last a few life times, but our ability to be more precise about what’s going on gives us the power and tools to do something about it. Maybe even transform it from threat to ally.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been saying that the technological evolution (now combine that with the biotech evolution alongside machine learning) is not a bunch of robots coming to take your job. We’re talking about artificial intelligence designed to take away the concept of job. That’s dramatically different than the former. This new way of how the world works says for the past few hundred years, you needed organized mass labor to do things in the world.
Now, you don’t.
The new artificial intelligence provides a way you can get even more done and more efficiently with new tools. Thus, you don’t need to hire a bunch of people for jobs anymore. This only means masses of people who used to be crucial to the current economic system are expendable….irrelevant. You are no longer needed in this economic process. Here is a five question quiz to see if you may be among the economically irrelevant over the next 3-5 years:
If you answered yes to 3 or more of these question, chances are good you are becoming economically irrelevant in the current economic system. If you answered no to three or more, you may be in a field that is economically flexible. Economic irrelevance is not an indictment against your character. On the contrary. It says tons about your struggling in a system that feels ”rigged”. You know economic irrelevance is happening when....
1. Your country is experiencing almost full employment, yet most families in that country are struggling paycheck to paycheck, and….
2. …many of the current jobs being created are not high paying (ie: retail, hospitality, etc), and….
3. …many organizations and companies are rapidly rushing toward increased automation and...
4. …life expectancy in that country is trending down because people are not happy, and…
5. …there are no plans on the table to manage the coming job losses due to automation and...
6. …there are no plans on the table for a post-job world.
HOW TO BECOME ECONMICALLY RELEVANT
There are those who would like you to believe that you’re lucky to here, and should be grateful. I say you are an on-purpose human being and are supposed to be right here, right now. My job is to help you explore that truth.
Four reasons why the charitable "giving back" model doesn't work very well.
I've written on this before, Societies around the world are re-examining how they give and how they receive money from other countries or organizations. There has been a ton of new books on the market that are deconstructing the time-held charity model that has ruled a lot of the world for the past few centuries. Some of these books include:
Winners Take All --- Anand Giriharadas
The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman --- John Perkins
With Charity For All: Why Charities are Failing and a Better Way to Give --- Ken Stern
Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance --- Edgar Villanueva
The traditional model of charity is being exposed in front of our very eyes. And that's a good thing. We have a record number of non-profits all around us, yet there is a climate crisis that threatens to destroy all of life as we know it. Match that with dramatic income and wealth inequality along with declining life expectancy along with ongoing systemic racism and you get the picture that whatever we're doing isn't working very well. Here are 5 reasons why we should get rid of the current practice of "giving back".
Giving back can focus on the giver instead of the receiver. Shouldn't the emphasis of an exchange between giver and receiver be about the receiver? After all, it is the receiver who has an acute need that they are seeking to address. Unfortunately, many societies celebrate the givers in hopes of getting more "gifts" in the future. It's backwards. Giving is a privilege.
Charitable giving is outdated. The current charitable giving model was formulated in the robber baron days of the 1920s when the ultra rich elite gave to society to help society needs, while their industries caused the needs in society in the first place.
Charitable giving can be predatory. The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman and the original Confessions of an Economic Hitman lay out how charity is often used as a tool to take other people's resources, money and dignity. Of course, that's not how most charities operate, but a lot of organizations have used charity money as leverage.
Charitable giving can be at the whim of the giver. Every non-profit organization knows the problems that come when a giver gets a wild hair and decides they want to do something else with their money, other than give it to their pet charity. The great work of creating a transformed society should not be based on whether the giver is having a good day or not.
So what are better approaches? There are several, but here are the top three.
Partnerships. I hear people talk about these things all the time, and the organizations who are modeling a completely new and effective approach to being effective via collaboration. Givers now see non-profits as business partners, but for the purpose of getting needs met. This is the right approach because populations believe that is what companies should be doing.
Social Enterprises. The jury is still out on Social Enterprises around the world but they hold a lot of promise. For those of you who may not know, Social Enterprises are organizations that address a basic or unmet need through a market-based approach. This, at least, takes a lot of the variables out that occur with the fickle nature of donor control. But I guess my personal question is: shouldn't all organizations become social enterprises that work toward the greater good?
A philosophical sea change. This is the most difficult idea to implement simply because it requires an overhaul of the shareholder's philosophical construct as developed by Milton Friedman who said some years ago that the primary function of a corporation is to maximize profits at all costs. I can argue that this construct has led us directly to an extinction level event called climate crisis. Indeed, it is also the number one reason there is a relative lack of a cohesive global response to this crisis. The new philosophical construct should be that the primary function of a corporation is to secure the well being of a society and the planet while creating profit.
Climate crisis is asking all of us to take a look at what we're doing so that we maximize on the survivability of humanity. The charity model is not exempt from this re-thinking.
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org