Updated: Apr 29
Envisioning future Societies
Not a hard reboot, where everything was erased, but one that would reset our way of living, allowing us to return to the previous setting and ignore the changes made in recent years.
We currently stand in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst it has had a devastating effect on the world, it has also shown us that many behaviors and practices we once thought unchangeable could be improved, and that many outcomes thought impossible were achievable.
Reduced travel has improved air quality. Fewer vacations have transformed water quality in popular holiday resorts. Cities freed of congested traffic can once again be enjoyed by walkers and cyclists without worrying about inhaling dangerous fumes. Whilst no one would choose a global pandemic to understand what is possible, COVID-19 has provided us with a temporary cleanse of the modern world and an opportunity to reassess the anachronisms that we endured, showing these as unfit for modern life.
Before focusing our energies on reverting to our “normal” inefficient, polluting, and destructive ways, what could be the outcome if we embraced the reboot as an opportunity to reshape and reimagine education, public policy, culture, economics, politics, and society? What if we optimized for humanity, creating a living model that puts people first, respects the environment, and seeks to address many of the inequalities embedded in today's model?
Utopian? Of course! By definition, it has to be after all, it is a future designed to be better, not worse. Starting with a utopian vision is important because it enables us to break free of today's problems by seeing the potential of what could be. Where do we start? Start with what matters most - by defining and prioritizing a set of core principles that your utopia is founded upon. The prioritization is essential because when conflicting objectives arise, the ranking simplifies the choice.
1 TAKE A PEOPLE-FIRST APPROACH
Start by putting people first. They are the heart of the system. This means putting people's happiness, health, and wealth at the center of all things. Policy and regulation are grounded in transparency, honesty, and trust that bleeds into the value system of people's everyday behavior, ensuring safety, well-being, and happiness. Every other principle flows from this throughout an interconnected societal nervous system.
2 LIVE SUSTAINABLY
Life is dependent on healthy living and environment for the likes of food, air, and water, and clean ecosystems that purify the air, maintain soil, regulate climate, recycle nutrients, and provide food. Failing to live sustainably increases costs not only in cleaning the environment to free it from pollution and damage, but also in increased healthcare and social costs.
3 LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD BY RAISING IT FOR EVERYONE
Install the infrastructure, systems, and ecosystems across all aspects of society to reward contribution to society. Define success by what individuals contribute to society based on their individual talents, abilities, and effort instead of valuing their salary and the assets of family connections and entitlement. This means ignoring political labels like communism, socialism, and capitalism, and government forms such as monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, republic, and anarchy. Rise above these by focusing on human values. Define a society based on fairness and equality. This does not mean everybody earning the same amount. If you work hard, you can realize the benefits of this. The ultimate goal is to reward effort and contribution, within a system that is fair and accessible to all.
4 EMBRACE DIVERSITY & DIFFERENCE
Embracing diversity helps us both understand each other and ourselves. Recognizing and respecting our individual differences in gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, physical abilities, social and economic status, religious and political beliefs, and other ideologies needs to be accepted without question. When people feel included, they build stronger social relationships, have a stronger sense of belonging, and inspire creativity and innovation in themselves and others.
5 SIMPLICITY MEANS THE GREATEST LEVELS OF ACCEPTANCE AND ENGAGEMENT
Policies need to remove complexity and be defined to provide clarity without requiring interpretation. They need to be well-thought through, widely shared, and designed to be meaningful for people. They should be prioritized for people over corporations, with clearly defined rights to encourage active participation in a fair society. Life should be lived without pollution or fear. We should have universal access to housing, education, and healthcare, and ultimately control our own bodies and destiny.
6 EDUCATION REVERSED
Education is the key to success, yet we do not educate how we learn. We live in the 21st century, but our education systems were designed to meet the bygone needs of the Victorian Industrial Age, where recall was valued over imagination. The new order is a modern education system that instills creativity as a core discipline at the grassroots and is nurtured throughout the educational system (that recognizes intelligence as multi-faceted) embracing emotional and social intelligence, critical thinking, and practical problem solving, and integrating science, arts, and humanities as equal parts of the learning jigsaw.
7 LEADING WITHOUT FRONTIERS
Society needs authentic leadership with the vision and know-how to make things happen by pushing humanity forward and making society better. Our chosen political leaders need to constantly challenge the status quo and stand against oppressive forces that diminish or oppose society, articulating their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. Leaders who are driven by one common characteristic—they wanted a better world, and a better outcome for humanity! Fearless in their expression who use their visions to fuel consistent action to bring to life ideas that push humanity forward.
8 MAKE POLITICS ATTRACTIVE FOR AUTHENTIC LEADERS
Authentic leaders are not compelled to politics in modern times. They tend to gravitate towards the humanities, arts, technology, entrepreneurship, and business. There may be monetary reasons for this, though a fundamental issue is their lack of trust and exhaustion of the old economy and its decayed political systems, coupled with the ethics and incompetence of people leading countries who do not have the empathy, skills, and experience to lead. It's time to re-invent politics and the types of leaders that need to be at the helm of society.
9 CREATIVITY EXISTS WITHIN EVERY PERSON NOT THE ELITE FEW
Creativity is ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Creativity can be applied to every profession and domain because it is found in all aspects of life. It isn't something lost with age, but rather a skill we too often neglect to practice. The challenge is not learning new things, as this will inevitably happen as we explore, travel, learn and grow. Rather, the challenge is keeping our childlike wonder and imagination alive and having the courage to combine those things with our new experiences and insight.
10 FLUSH THE STEREOTYPES
Free your perception that you need the prerequisites to be able to be in the creative arts and paint a masterpiece like Dalí and Picasso did. Reject convention by identifying new and better ways of doing things with your eyes wide open and not making ego-driven decisions, staying competitive, constantly hunting for new and better ways of doing business, eradicating excess, reducing waste, and benefiting society. Fearlessly embrace the choices you make, one bold decision at a time, one courageous action at a time. These choices, decisions, and actions ultimately transform risk into reward and fear into determination. Recognize the allure and danger of the status quo. We are programmed to welcome stability and have an aversion to change, but this is the trap that prevents progress because all forms of growth require change.
11 FORBID THE CYNICISM OF FAILURE: WIN OR LEARN MENTALITY
Allowing personal failure to trump you is kryptonite to the soul and will crush your energy, imagination, and ultimately, your creativity. Embrace lifelong emotional and social learning where everything is possible. Passion is energy. Be connected to something greater, be present, be accountable and excuse-free, and live to give.
12 EMPOWER PEOPLE TO ADAPT AS FAST AS SOCIETY NEEDS
Fostering a culture of agility means being adaptive to constant change, embracing fast-thinking, quick decision-making, driving autonomy, and empowering people to act quickly by smashing through obstacles to innovate and make progress. It means being liberal, inclusive, and meritocratic, yet remaining entirely focused and motivated to expedite the mission at hand. When we do this, we eradicate destructive blocks to a better society.
13 DON'T GET MESMERIZED BY TECHNOLOGY AND BEING FOOLED INTO BELIEVING ITS THE ANSWER
It is not. As former Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lassiter accurately declared: "Computers don't create computer animation any more than pencils create pencil animation. What creates is the artist." The key is the intelligent application of technology to unlocking human ingenuity for the greater good by pushing society forward ethically and responsibly. Humans and machines are working together to problem-solve and transform the world for the better in a people-first society.
14 OUR OUTPUTS ARE THE NEXT GENERATIONS' INPUTS, ACT RESPONSIBLY
The children of this revolution are the canvas onto which our values will be imprinted and shaped. Seamlessly woven into this is the responsibility to pass the baton by leaving the world better than we inherited it. Our next generation needs to be nurtured by parents committed to not repeating previous generations' mistakes. It is important to be socially conscious, self-confident, achievement-oriented, ambitious, technologically sophisticated, inquisitive, and driven to demand that those with authority accept responsibility and accountability. Above all, future generations should question explanations like "because this is the way it has always been done" and ask, "but is this the best way it can be done?" Start with youth to build the society of the future by taking a long-term approach.
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Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."
Photo credit: Brian Smale
An eclectic and visionary thought leader who has guided the success of multiple breakthrough products and services at technology companies: Microsoft, O2, Siemens, Atos, and Blue Prism. He has set the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition to maximize business value and drive positive societal through quality execution across the entire product lifecycle with a focus on the people-centered design-based approach, aesthetic and technical excellence.
Attitude. Imagination. Execution.
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