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Expats in Eindhoven (Netherlands) complain that they can’t practice their Dutch. At work most speak English and in their private life they speak their own language. Eliska Slovakova (Czech and 7 years in the Netherlands) got inspired by the weekly “eating together” of COS3I’s social integration activities. She has local language practice difficulties herself and enjoyed meeting with elderly people one day at the event. “What happens with me surely also happens with other Expats.”
So she decided to make it into a combined event. Local elderly eating together with local Expats speaking Dutch, preferably non English speaking lonely elderly. She got so excited that she decided to create engagement games, questionnaires etc. It became an entire platform with a diversity of options for Expats to join. Her first attempt scored a 5 out 5 among all participants, Expats, elderly and every one else. Everyone was very excited. Most decided to repeat next week…. The best compliment for this talented Elizka, artist, engeneer and creative designer.
When our AiREAS POP research revealed that our exposure to air pollution was related for 50% to our selves, lifestyle became important also for us citizens. The other 50% was due to the political economic structures that feed our lifestyle. So when we address our lifestyle we address pollution, undesired illnesses, expansion of health care costs, wellness in general and even politics. This is a mayor revelation. We used to pinpoint to governance, now we can pinpoint to ourselves. In fact, our reality is what we percieve and make of it. Perception and make ability of change is an interesting concept worth exploring. Making visible the invisible is an aspect of AiREAS that goes beyond simple measurement of air pollution. We try to visualize the effects of behavioral change on our health and quality of life.
That’s how we arrived at creating COS3I. The S and 3 make a heart shape which refers to the passion of wellness driven cocreation. The COS3I word stands for Cooperative in Social Inclusion, Integration and Innovation, hence the 3i.
But social inclusion in what? In our STIR case we decided to invite people into our core human values as defined in Sustainocracy. Rather than moralizing about air pollution and our own responsibility we wanted to get social inclusion into care for health and our opportunities. This represents a total turn around for people’s thinking, transforming from structural dependence to self leadership, through awareness and engagement.
But people do not relate to stuff they do not see. A new dimension is therefor added to our human interaction. It is one of the positive enquiry, the positive invitation. the engagement to genuin values. When we started doing this all kinds of circles of common interests started to appear. Each could be related itself to social inclusion but also used to engage other citizens.
Each of these circles has very passionate people that wish to share their passion with others. We create neighborhood festivals in which we announce workshops and let people experience the circle’s energy with the invitation to engage. Despite the difference in focus the final effect of all circles together is a vibrant neighborhood and powerful wellness driven awareness and mentality. In the end the air quality improves through the social interaction, purpose driven social innovation and positive inclusion.
In times of crisis, such as a recession or a depression, people talk about social innovation a lot. Other words that are being heard are civilian participation, social responsibility, etc. In fact, what we see happening is that the old dominant institutional world is calling out for help. When we look at my blog about the Kondratieff sinus we see that at the peak of an economic hype the conservative dominance of risk avoiding governance is blocking all kinds of social innovation. When the people are happy, get what they want, have nothing to complain about, few stand up to become creative with a desire for change. The social cash cow of conservatism in a peak economy is not the best basis to introduce social innovation. If you would want to do that you would need the Otto Scharmer U-Theory to simulate chaos and get people to become artificially creative. It is not the same as a genuine crisis.
A depression seems to get the best out of people in terms of adding true and lasting value to their community, especially when it collapses. Now why is that? There are a few reasons to mention:
1. Creativity needs stimulus
When a communities enters a recession is wakes people up to look at their own reality in a different way. Previously wealth was a matter of fact, now it is not anymore. Old securities disappear and people need to find access to new ones. They are obliged to think, triggered by their intense emotions. Fear for shortages, the pain of loosing previous wellness, the need to find a way out of chaos, the worries about their operational wellness, it all opens up peoples mind to change. It triggers a whole series of reactions, from complaints, aggression, suicide, etc, but also a boost of creativity in many.
2. Change needs to be “different”
In a recession people tend to do the same things over and over again to try to regain their old securities. They do not want to acknowledge that the crisis is caused because the “old ways” simply have become obsolete. You can’t take them for granted anymore, not matter how well they worked in society, business or family life before. When the markets shrinks one needs to adjust, not in the shrinking but bailing out by being different. When an economic peak gets people to copy each other to benefit from wealth without any new creations, a dip gets them confronted in competition. It shakes up their similarities and stimulates the search for renewed uniqueness. Pioneers appear who propose new things and a sense of social innovation invades the surroundings. This stimulates others to do the same.
3. Change needs freedom
When you wake up at 7 in the morning to start the day, bringing the kids to school, go to work, worry about the bills, the shopping, the taxes and a personal career, to get back home at 18.30 tired, feed the children, take them to bed, crash on the sofa and watch the telly……. Then you have little time or interest to even think of social innovation or whatever. Your world turns around your daily responsibilities and that is type of worldview you have.
When however one has enough freedom it is much easier to find inner strength to overcome the burden of a daily routine and become creative. Need combined with available time gets people to experiment with innovation. Some do this by discovering new abilities or pick up old forgotten talents (they start to act, dans, sing, play a musical instrument, paint). Others start doing voluntary works and start meeting totally different people than before. New ideas are born, some are actually tried our and can even flourish. In freedom people disconnect from old structures and mingle with new connections, developing new communities and change happens organically.
4. Innovation needs to be seen
During peaks of abundance there are also people who have a creative nature and develop social innovations. They are however hardly visible because no one seems to be on the look out for inspiration. When a recession wakes up people the sensitivity for innovation grows and all kinds of inspiring novelty get the chance to be highlighted or “discovered” for public enlargement. Someone who has the creative urge to create innovation may lack the managerial leadership to outgrow it to make it a new social standard. The interaction of an institutional world in crisis with a new dynamic world of creativity in purpose driven freedom can boost any novelty to huge proportions. Visibility of inspiring innovations is hence a double sided phenomena. On the one hand it is the creativity of social innovation boosted by a recession that wants to be seen, and on the other, the open attention of crumbling institutions that need innovation fast to renew their expectations for survival.
A paradigm shift is not the same as social innovation. Can social innovation produce a paradigm shift? Or does a paradigm shift cause social innovation?
A paradigm is defined to be “a specific way of looking at a reality, determining the way one makes decisions and acts in accordance”. This means automatically that there are different ways of looking at a reality, challenging the way people make their decisions. In our current social paradigm the consumer based capitalist economy has a dominant position, determining the way governments, business, public in general, institutions, etc interact. Social innovation at an individual level generally may change the texture and coloring of the paradigm but will not change this overall paradigm.
So when we address the issue of climate change, global warming, global pollution, new possible global diseases, etc and attribute this to the dominant paradigm then social innovation within the reigning paradigm may address these issues from a consequences point of view but will not solve them from a cause point of view. To do that a paradigm shift is needed.
Sustainocracy is a paradigm shift
Sustainocracy was idealistically conceived when I decided that I did not want to pass the old paradigm on to my children because of the negative consequences it causes. Of course I did appreciate the positive elements of this paradigm but realized that we had reached a point that the balance had tipped over to the accumulation of negative effects, creating permanent instability also at the positive end. So in a way my decision early in the 2000’s was a social innovation. Back then my surroundings had no desperate feeling of a crisis yet even though the signs were abundantly present already. The establishment was still confident that change could be done from within the reigning paradigm. In fact, the established power structures were also an inherent piece of that paradigm and gained their existence from it. It was not up to them to challenge their reason to be. The only one that could challenge the paradigm is the one who has eyes to see and awareness to distinguish between realities. And that is the human being itself, because we are the ones that create our instruments, even if we allow them to reign us for a while. We have come to point that we need to redefine the usages and positioning of those instruments. And that is what we do in Sustainocracy. We respect the instruments as human creations and reposition them around a new paradigm in which the human being is placed at the center of sustainable human progression, not the financial systems.
With this simple change in mindset and observing the world, the world itself learns to see itself differently and starts to reshuffle their power positions accordingly. Slowly the two paradigms become visible to everyone and so does the choice everyone has. Social innovation then gets an entirely new dimension that changes everything simply because of the way we look at things. We live in a unique time-era in which we see a new paradigm arise, co-exist with an old one for a while, interacting probably with certain conflicts and eventually take over. People in next generations will read about this era in their history books but will look at society from that new dominant paradigm without the challenging adventure of living through the transformation, or even playing part in defining it. This era is therefor unique in the history of humankind and referred to by me and some others as “the quantum leap in human evolution”.
Open up your mind and be part of it. It is exciting, challenging and rewarding to be a pioneer of a new world.
In the world there are roughly three economic “worlds”, the old rich, the new rich and the poor. These can be seen horizontally per region in the world. The old rich regions speculate with value, the new rich countries create some of the value still through industrial process with cheap labor, and then there are the poor that have nothing but themselves. Meanwhile climate changes and pollution of the rich make the globe more inhabitable affecting the rich in their quest for resources using greed, and the poor who are being robbed of their chances for survival. Some try to get to the rich parts of the world by hazardous migration, others just perish, accepting their destiny in some way as inevitable.
This has always been the case ever since industrialization began and even before. Nowadays the old rich suffer crises because they cannibalize on their own wealth, the new rich do not learn the lessons of the old rich and go into the same direction while the poor remain poor, exploited by the rich, die and don’t know much better by lack of reference. What is “rich” anyway? That your children survive beyond age 2 or 5? That you have a car, a house to live in, two TV sets, a mobile phone and access to the supermarket every day? Peace at home or in the street?
Poverty among the rich
Then there is this other way of looking at the same three worlds but vertically, within the confinement of the rich countries. We find the same mix of poverty, wealthy and rich but within the same region. The difference with the general poverty around the world is that this type of poverty has known what it is like to be rich in material sense and sees it around them all the time. In the area of poverty within rich regions we see three ways that people deal with it:
- Solidarity, meaning that fellow people, families, friends and surroundings help the people out voluntarily for their primary needs. Often people who are being helped just need some support because they thrive to be self supported and need no official help. They are the entrepreneurial types of society that do their best. They normally see their situation as temporary and part of life, trusting to be able to deal with it.
- Social welfare, a government caring system to assist people who have entered in some kind of misery until they can find their way back into the system by themselves or through pressure of the government. Often these are people who have suffered a loss, a divorce or whatever mishap. It can also represent a cultural problem of employment diversity. Social welfare is the social cushion that provides them with rest and material peace of mind for a while.
- Criminality and chaos, is when people do not trust the system or themselves anymore and abuse the system through rebellion acts, criminality and chaos, out of mentality or need.
In new rich countries we see governments trying to deal with the newly growing rich, taxation, equality and old poverty through education programs and welfare creation. In the current old rich societies however we see a general raise of poverty that covers all three situations. Yet the mix tends to alter due to the development of the collapsing richness. The crises that the culture and paradigm suffers develops an explosive situation that eventually will provoke a paradigm shift. It is these poor that upset the old system and introduce new conditions for stable progress, but not before some chaos and collapse is created in the community. It is not the money that will change the world, it is the poverty among the old rich.
The traditional solidarity of local people goes to their own relatives or close ones. Many rich countries have opened up their borders so much for the entry of cheap labor that foreign poverty mixes with local poverty, both with a different mentality around scarcity. The local poor start to believe that the chances are being taken away from them by the foreigners. The newcomers come for work and see the rich society as something to take their chances no matter what. Some come with a genuine interest to take benefit, others with a hit and run opportunistic attitude towards the abundance in the materially rich environment.
Crime rises among all populations groups simply because of the masses in jeopardy, the distrust between locals and foreign groups and the declining “can do” culture in the region. When social security funds dry up as the old rich country cannot keep up the old standards the welfare support is taken away gradually and causes more poverty. The solidarity in the community slows down and finally stops because people lose faith and ask their people to take responsibility. They do that by finding ways to rise against the inequality through marches, protest or attacks, yet they also develop new pre-paradigms and paradigms. The significance of have lived through different worldviews as an individual is key for progress. Poverty then is a way to let go of the old securities that the remaining rich try to defend. But this defense, even with the powerful support of the law, is not enough to withhold the demanding forces of the people who want to introduce change. We have seen this happen in Northern Africa and the Middle East. We will see it happening across the globe.
The following questions arises:
- When, with what proportion of poverty in the mix, does a stable economy of old rich collapse into chaos prior to renewal
- Can a country take precaution before? Eg by allowing social innovation by the poor instead of defending the situation of the rich
- Is social welfare always an adequate cushion? Or should it be limited only to the new rich while the old rich should focus on paradigm shift through social investment rather than protection?
As poverty in the rich countries grows we general see the difference between rich and poor grow too. The speculation at the top end of the social pyramid is showing economic growth while the bottom is reaching a point of starvation. The differences grow and so does the social stress. Yet the new poverty has the insight, knowledge and education to produce change that can move the old rich into a new phase of development through fundamental changes. The growing rich out of the old paradigm will try to influence change negatively. I also referred to this in the blog entry of the route of least resistance. The only problem any country deals with in this situation is its governance. What side does government chose? The conservative rich out of tax interests and their influential lobby? Or the innovative poor understanding the need for social innovation? Can a middle way exist?
Looking forward to your reactions……
A sustainocratic government is one that is willing to participate in purpose driven local multi-disciplinary teams without any more authority than facilitating regional development of sustainable human progress. For many governments today this would mean an overall transformation by stepping into the pack instead of the old dominant regulatory role. This transformation is necessary to pick up the challenges that human kind faces and that are shown through the appearance of all kinds of crises.
This is the comparison between traditional (current) and sustainocratic governance:
Most governments today are of the traditional type. In a money driven society the institutional interests have become so fragmented into isolated self-interests that all pieces of a society live a life of their own. This results local social consequences that need to be attended by the local governance in a reactive way. Local government uses taxation and debt to finance itself. Such governance feels powerful in its regulatory and controlling authority with a risk avoiding service to its population. This type of governance has become very vulnerable due to its disconnection from an evolutionary reality which develops beyond its control due to open borders and globalization of financial interests. Just the measures that fit the local consequences are within its span of control at the expense of its limited sources of financial income. This is explosively dangerous. Governance has nothing else to draw from then regulation, financing the growing consequence driven government dominated institutions (health care, police, expensive infrastructures, etc) through distribution and consumer growth while watching its society deteriorate.
Urgent need for change
In an open border, globalized world, such governments are vulnerable for any influences from elsewhere. Self interest does not lead to any partnership among governments as all search ways to keep up their necessary level of income at the expense of the others. Since local government income is dependent on levels of local consumption the stimulus is concentrated on keeping this in tact and growing, either through volume (automotive, food, energy, clothing, retail, logistics, etc) or through speculation (housing market, fashion, shortages in commodities, etc). This situation is unsustainable, resulting a ever growing public debt, internal instability, reduced government maneuverability, etc. Although powerful in regional regulatory dominance the governance has become ineffective, reactive and out of control. Such governance unavoidably leads to war and chaos, unless sustainocracy is applied.
The above suggests the urgent need of renovation of governance in an evolutionary sense. Sustainocracy is such next step in which regulatory dominance is transformed into facilitating partnerships through regional multi-disciplinary co-responsibility on human well-being issues. Key here is that governance assumes a territorial role of purpose driven technological and social innovation focused on sustainable local human progress instead of global competitiveness.
The most significant purpose of any community is to be as self sufficient as possible. Self sufficiency reduces the vulnerability due to the reduced dependence on others. Self sufficiency also requires the intense involvement of all local participants that shape and give content to the community. This is essentially what sustainocracy is all about: awareness, responsibility, participation and local wellness.
On paper this is easy to explain but how would one change a traditionally dominant regional governance into a facilitating sustainocratic partner? The logic maybe understood by local executives but the system is based on risk avoidance, regulation and control. Even if the executives wish to partner up in a sustainocratic processes they still face the need to involve their institutional structures too. Such structure is steered around the compliance of rules not bending the rules for progress. Executives run the risk of becoming non-compliant to their own systems of law. It is not simply a re-positioning of a business or letting a state go bankrupt. It means a totally new way of organizing society including jurisprudence. In a democratic society this can hardly be done because consensus is needed in a majority to make such drastic changes and such majority will never be found unless the society is in war or chaos already. Before that the conservative voices promising continuation of the past will always win from those who promise a better future.
Step by step
Governance cannot transform organically from traditional to sustainocratic. It would have to take the seat in the center of a sustainocratic process, relinquishing all its dominance. That is impossible to conceive in today’s reality. When government is willing to step into the pack with its territorial responsibilities and commitment, the pack will need to step up to take co-responsibility too. In an environment where the other social components have been living an independent, individualistic, self interested life, this is a new complexity to deal with. None of these parties can take over because it would make them dominant in the relationship which is not logical either. Co-creation and sharing responsibility hence needs to be placed with the context of a new, modern cooperative entity. This entity is independent and represents the purpose of the venture. Various purpose driven entities can be established in this way uniting the influence and authority of the four pillars of society (government, business innovation, science/education and the local civil population) around a single complex purpose for local self-sufficiency.
In Holland I started sustainocratic ventures like that on a local for local basis. The first one is AiREAS, using air (environmental) quality measurements, related directly to human health, as trigger for social and demographic innovation. This is unique in the world. In the process of setting up this cooperative venture we needed to attend all the above transformative challenges. It is only succeeding because of the commitment of highly qualified people at the center with me and within the institutions that need to be involved. The intensity of the process from fragmentation to holistic cooperation is huge and vulnerable along the entire way because of the negative forces of individual institutional self interests fighting it continuously. It is a chicken and egg situation where partners are willing to join if governance is willing to step down and join the group based on equality rather than dominance. The only way governance can do that is by letting go of its financial control system over public means, providing cash to the sustainocratic venture with a demand (reciprocity) of shared result driven responsibilities.
Investing in change rather than maintenance
The financial commitment of using public funds from local taxes to invest in purpose driven ventures with the local population as beneficiary in wellness, is of course common sense. Yet traditional governance invests billions in maintaining an obsolete system, neglecting the building up of local for local self sufficiency. With only a fraction of all the investments that have disappeared into sustaining banks and bankrupt governments sustainocratic ventures would have already changed risk into sustainable local stability.
It is of course in the interest of a few people to keep a financial dominance out of self interest but common sense, and the availability of sustainocracy as new way of solving key human issues, will get a bottom up movement going starting primarily in the smaller urban centers where human interaction between institutional powers and civil entrepreneurship is still fairly close. State governance will change bottom up, peacefully if central governance is willing to let go of its financial dominance and dependencies, allowing things to happen for the sake of long term stability. Else populations will demand attention forcefully like they did in Egypt, Libya, etc. This is not necessarily done through acts of war or civil uproar. It can equally be done by demanding liabilities and responsibilities through the wisdom of the crowd and claiming constitutional human rights where they are being violated by money based governance that causes inequality, poverty, hunger and criminality. Social media are becoming a strong alliance of people demanding openness and transparency from governments. In many places in Europe and the rest of the world we see governments giving back regional development to their own people. In this peaceful process we observe that population can perfectly well carry the responsibility, especially when ventures are co-creative and partnered up by institutional interests together with creative local entrepreneurship focused on local wellness.
“Can do” needs the freedom of purpose driven ventures without the burden of old financial blockage. Taxation creates no value, creativity does, especially if directed at common human interests with involvement of all.
In various places of the world there are forthcoming general elections again, so are in the Netherlands. The public media circus has started again in which politicians compete with their lies to see if they can lure people to them. New political parties are not granted access to the commercial media that finds its friends in those who have most to give. New initiatives can’t grow in the darkness below powerful structures and need to wait until they fall over.
Or they find the route of least resistance.
Well-being is located at exactly the opposite side of the human complexity model from chaos. In human evolution societies reach the state of chaos normally due to the inflexibility of a long period of greed. Wellness is something that people tend to want to keep conservatively, creating systems to preserve it against progress. Progress is risky and could put wellness in danger. Greed gradually appears in the systems.
So when people or institutions find themselves in or near the field of chaos they can do two things:
- Move back against the line of human evolution (clock wise circle) to get to wellness via greed. They would either have to become greedy to fit in (criminality, manipulation, aggression) or try to force their way through the massive opposition of hierarchies, bureaucracy and system rules. (the red line)
- Or choose the rout of least resistance through awareness, trust building, cooperation (the green line) and development of pre-paradigms until one breaks through to replace the old one.
Interestingly in the model the opposition between greed and spiritual awareness is also well visible in reality. The more greed develops in the system the more people oppose through spiritualization, still highly individual but with a gradual built up in the field of awareness. This group is also fed by people who follow the traditional line through chaos and search the enlightenment of conscious reflection when facing the aggression in chaos. They create renewal by proposing true alternatives.
The green line is the route of least resistance but needs the talent of organization and willingness of people to build a new, parallel society. People can group together and use the modern means of social and alternative media to communicate and build up sufficient strength against the organized dominance of greed. In the field of greed competition and self interest is high and deadly. It has the tendency to inflate as a bubble to explode into a crisis with chaos as a result. My people keep up powerful positions managing the old system out of self interest.
In the field of awareness the process is exactly opposite. People become so aware of themselves and society that they need to be challenged to join and become organized around progress. The more greed collapses into chaos, the stronger awareness can organize itself eventually into wellness.
The law of opposites rules here. When people claim in public that they want to go back into recent history because of the wealth of that moment they can try the difficult (impossible) or the easy way (complicated). The way back is the one in which no lessons are learned, no forward reflection takes place. There is a simple anxiety to relive something of the past. The way forward is the one where abundance of the past is learned from in perspective of the scarcity of today. Steps can be taken through awareness to develop a new society based on accumulated knowledge. The route of least resistance is the one of awareness, hence an inner one of reflection, and action based o trust in each other. Sustainable human progress hence has to do with applied knowledge in the warmth of social innovation. It can be applied, not by fighting the system of greed but by avoiding and even neglecting it, positioning your society building outside the dominant structures. If the latter are greedy for money, organize yourself without money.
Use the law of opposites and you will follow the green line without finding resistance.