The twilight of capitalism?

This post is about change – the fundamental change that we must master to transform our world.

Why – because our current economic and political systems have pretty much reached their “use by” date. They are struggling to deliver the benefits they have previously generated in such abundance. Until we change the assumptions that support these current systems, we won’t solve the problems that they manifest.

Jeremy Rifkin claims that capitalism will be replaced over the next few decades by a new economic system, the collaborative commons. In his new book The Zero Marginal Cost Society, he identifies how the democratisation of information, enabled by the Internet is a template for driving down the costs of energy, logistics and material fabrication.

How will we change?

How are we going to make these changes? We won’t make this transition incrementally. Using “technical change” we incrementally improve our existing technologies or systems. We tweak here and there and get a little more out of them. We do this without examining our big assumptions about our world.

To achieve the scale of change required we must question many of the assumptions that are propping up our failing systems. Adaptive change is based on a reassessment of our assumptions and a clearer vision of our future.

Collaboration is the key

The Internet provides us with superb collaborative tools. We are only just beginning to see how it will aid the transformation of our thinking. Industrial age organisations grew their hierarchies as their businesses grew. While these hierarchies enabled organising on a large scale and have created great wealth, they inevitably created communication failures. Typically, in large organisations those at the apex are disconnected from those producing and delivering products and services. According to Gallup, only 13% of employees are engaged globally.

There are small organisations experimenting with collaboration as foundational communication and organising practices. Enspiral is a New Zealand example.

“Enspiral is a virtual and physical network of companies and professionals working together to create a thriving society”. Josh Vial

Here is Josh Vial of Enspiral talking about collaboration. Josh aspires to supporting the development of a global, sustainable civilisation.

“The fundamental cause of the problems we have on the planet is the way our organisations are built and arranged and constructed…” Josh Vial

Josh is motivated to change our organisations from being largely extractive (extracting wealth and value) – to generative – creating social good alongside other aspirations. What is most encouraging from both thinkers featured here, is that we have the resources to create a sustainable world, that creates wealth for all its peoples. The key is unleashing human capability.

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