We’ve got a few problems.
The most critical problem is the degradation of the environment that sustains life as we know it. We seem to be strapped into a rollercoaster, barrelling into a downward spiral of pollution, soil degradation, ecological collapse and climate crisis. Elections are won through marketing, news is eclipsed by entertainment and the economy is driven by consumption. It’s hard to see how we can get off the rollercoaster.
On the other hand, we have solutions ready to go. We understand the importance of a wide range of strategies including renewable energy, ecosystem protection and waste reduction. Numerous companies, associations and volunteers are working in these areas. We have the solutions, we just don’t have the combined will to put them in place.
It’s clear that we can no longer wait for governments to take action. Many of our politicians are too caught up in re-election cycles or too compromised by donors, lobby groups and special interests to understand that their purpose should be to lead humanity into a better future. Perhaps it doesn’t matter – regulation has evolved into a game to find loopholes, leading to moves and counter-moves and ever-greater expenditure of resources to make the game more complex. It’s slow, inefficient and broken, and perhaps it’s time to move on.
And a movement is emerging. This movement reminds me of the stories about draft horses: the force generated by two horses pulling together is more than the sum of the forces generated by two horses pulling individually, because together they share the work of overcoming resistance. Today, we are seeing grassroots groups pulling communities together. Social media (on its good days!) is pulling truth back into the light. Consumer and shareholder pressure is pulling company policies into the future. Some corporations with enlightened leadership are taking concrete actions to reduce their footprint. And these various groups are collaborating. Another interesting thing happens when draft horses work in teams: once they get to know each other and learn how to work together, they can exert an even stronger force.
We’ve got a huge job ahead of us but if we focus on outcomes, it no longer matters who “wins” as long as someone does. I’m hopeful that our collective team can find opportunities for collaboration, can reduce replication and identify gaps that need to be filled. Collaboration Facilitators can connect shareable knowledge or resources in one organisation with those who need them in another. Organisations can support each other through mechanisms such as preferred supplier status. Consumers and shareholders across numerous groups can act together in powerful campaigns to drive change. The more of us work together, the more others will join in and pull in the same direction.