I have just spent the last couple of days teaching Integral Thinking with some wonderful MBA students at Sustentare Business School in Joinville, Brazil. We discussed a lot the concept of how to promote transition within organisations, and I used as a couple of case studies the London riots from August, and the Occupy Wall Street protests. We looked at human values, and how these movements emerge and are self-managing in structure.
This is a really excellent article in today’s Guardian which describes much of what we discussed. It is interesting to read about how the protestors describe themselves and what they are trying to achieve. The protestors already have a very systemic way of thinking:
Not having a set programme for people to “buy into” is deliberate – we’re choosing a different way of going about things. Our response to systemic failure is not to propose a new system, but to start making one. We’re in the business of defining process, and specific demands will evolve from this in time.
On my course we looked at consumerism, and all the problems that have come with us becoming such a materialistic society. But we also talked a lot about solutions, and how these can be achieved. One way I suggested was to take inspiration from the Transition Towns Movement. In the Guardian article, the protestors also take a look at consumerism, and its effect on our identities.
We ask people to stop seeing themselves merely as consumers and start seeing themselves as participants. Start organising in your own community. Work through existing channels if you like. But take back the initiative – because we’ve seen what happens when we let politicians take sole responsibility for how we organise our society: it’s resulted in profound economic failure and material hardship. Change is possible, if you want it – that is what we’re trying to show people.
The day before I began teaching the course, a very interesting piece of research was announced. It showed how just a very tiny proportion of interconnected trans-national companies control a huge proportion of global trade. The researchers used modelling techniques from complexity theory normally used to model natural systems, and produced the following diagram to show the interconnections between these organisations.
When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
I will be writing more about my thoughts from the course this week, and will add a few photos too. I hope you will find it interesting too.
Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world, New Scientist, October 2011