April 2022 - Year three of the disrupted decade
Flipping Dangerous People
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I’m Grant Symons. I convene Transition Edge to help us understand how we can transition to a low carbon sustainable world using leading thinking and practices.
On the Edge, we aim to discover and improve how the Transition to a truly sustainable future happens. This is a very challenging space as we end up face-to-face with successful people, doing what they know how to do best, but (sometimes unwittingly) contributing to degradation of the planet and the prospects for future generations.
This week's edition is a thought experiment where we imagine being able to seriously flip some of these key players, so that their influence shifts from being a negative one, to being net positive towards a truly long-term sustainable future.
The 'dangerous people' below are really just roles or positions that have developed over many years, have become an accepted part of the old world, and that we think are no longer serving future generations well.
We are not referring to any individuals in particular... our intent is to get you thinking and asking questions about why we are not seeing positive change in the way these players, or roles in society, conduct themselves, and what their options might be?
Politicians (and colleagues in Government)
The danger - a popularity contest within a three-year electoral cycle means that promises can be made and never delivered. Ideologically driven and geared towards maintaining humans on top of, instead of as part of, mother nature. It is virtually impossible to avoid the imperative for growth of the system and a return on financial investment. As things go wrong, there is always someone else or something else to blame - the
previous government, the pandemic, the fuel prices...the weather, while all along, the long-term future and ecosystem is the loser.
The flip - Longer electoral cycles, most transparency with a massive shift to data-driven decision making delivered through a radically leaner and simpler government, (ministries that aren't puppets) massively simplified tax, trade, and social support processes. An independent Transition-advisory system made up of local people. (Sounds a lot like a proper functioning local Government system?)
The danger - their success often makes them beyond any kind of advice, contrary to their beliefs and penchants. They love it their way. They don't mind unleashing their ego and often indulgent waste on the world. The way they became successful can be the hardest thing for them to give up - most never do.
The flip - Provide incentives to do different AND better. Help them recognise that their success was the product of a different world and a different time. They need to look forward to understand just how their success can be turned to introduce a better and lasting legacy.
The danger - since the 1970's and the financial-isation of virtually every aspect of life, the executive class has done extremely well. Relative to wage workers the top brass broke any shackle or sense of relativity by hooking their wagon to that of the financial sector. The new rules of leveraging debt, refinancing, hostile takeovers, the share market dynamics and the buying and selling of ones own stock, elevated the executive class globally. The advent of massive
technology shifts, market intelligence and the human resources department added a new level of importance for the executive, no matter where she or he was in the world. Some take that to extreme levels of narcissism and self importance.
The flip - Stockholders and owners of businesses need to be reconstituting what executives do in future. Obscene remuneration should be phased out, particularly in relation to practices that cause environmental or societal harm. It is a tricky space, but we need to find ways of having much greater parity between workers and senior leaders. Lean towards cooperatives and workforce owned models.
Marketing professionals -
The danger - these people know how to get inside your head and appeal to your emotions. They are behind how we think about virtually anything (that someone is willing to pay for them to work on). As technology, knowledge and mass-scale automation has grown, the ability for marketing to position and reposition the focus of their attention (and ours) can have massive consequences... stimulating excessive consumption is but one
The flip - ethical marketers. Part of the sector declares a self imposed code of ethics that excludes the promotion of (a list) of products, enterprises and activities - for which the evidence exists - that are harmful to the planet and our long term prospects. Grow ethical marketing as the economy and societal expectations shift.
Bankers and Fund managers
The danger - they are employed to achieve or grow returns on financial investments. They are usually remote from any of environmental destruction or human suffering they directly or indirectly preside over. They work on the assumption that there will always be a return (of up to 30%) on an increasing amount of debt - on a finite planet ( we are seeing this is not possible)
The flip - reinvention of the way the financial system works. Incentives need to be put in place that value and reward long to very long-term investments and modest returns. The system needs to be skewed towards truly regenerative activity, including the internalisation of costs of negative consequences that, until now, have been externalised for free.
Us ordinary folks
The danger - en mass we are dangerous when we are sleepwalking into the future while consuming, wasting, denying, doing BAU and avoiding the hard conversations about the Transition. Blaming others, procrastinating, or denying that we can make a difference.
The flip - Think about us and them...is there really 'a them'? We need to change our mindsets. Working well together across government, society and industry as we go will be critical through the transition. Collaboration and negotiation will be key.
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”
- Peter Drucker
In next weeks edition we have some great news to share and will be announcing a new product !
Please recommend the Transition Edge to others today.
Grant Symons - The Transition Guy
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