the Club of Amsterdam in May about
future of Green Architecture
existing houses and historic buildings. Zero-energy buildings.
Thursday, May 29, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15. Ascension
Day / Hemelvaartsdag.
and our June event about
future of Transformation
is everywhere. Due to changes in the economy, the climate, technology
and lifestyle we are transforming our infrastructure, our houses, our
companies our cities and ourselves all the time. This evening we will
discuss the future of transformation. Big plans and top down is over,
are we ready now for bottom up or are there other strategies to think
Felix F Bopp,
Founder & Chairman
up inclusive innovation: asking the right questions?
Adrian Smith, Senior Lecturer, SPRU - Science and
Technology Policy Research, The Sussex Energy Group
There has always existed an insistent undercurrent of grassroots
innovation activity in societies. Whether born of material or
economic necessity, or motivated by social issues marginalised
by the conventional innovation systems of states and markets,
networks of grassroots innovators have worked to find development
solutions that meet the aims, interests, and situations of the
activists, communities and individuals involved.
Lessons from the grassroots?
An emerging agenda for inclusive
amongst national and international development agencies has drawn
elite attention to grassroots innovation. Grassroots innovation
activity attracts interest as both a source of potentially inclusive
ideas and practices, worthy of scaling-up, and as a relevant field
of experience from which programmes for inclusive innovation might
Research into grassroots innovation movements at the STEPS
and in SPRU
for over a decade certainly suggests some relevant lessons. But
the most important lessons are not as directly instrumental for
inclusive innovation as some agencies might hope. Because whilst
there is valuable experience in grassroots innovations, the main
lessons from studying this field is that questions about scaling-up
inclusive innovation might be misguided, or at least too narrow,
and what is really required are answers to questions about opening-up
and democratising innovation systems.
There are three motivating questions for the OECD
This contribution addresses the second and third of them:
the impacts of innovation and innovation policy on industrial,
social and territorial inclusiveness?
How can inclusive innovation initiatives be expanded
to improve welfare and facilitate the democratisation of innovation?
What are key implications for policy? What can be done
to support the successful implementation of novel approaches
to policy to effectively support inclusive growth?
is that inclusive innovation may not automatically facilitate
the democratisation of innovation. Indeed, the relationship may
need to operate the other way: it is difficult to have deep and
meaningful inclusion in innovation (and, by implication, fair
and just exclusion) without first democratising innovation systems.
Problematising question two in this way means that considerations
for policies sought in question three begin to look quite different.
Scaling-up processes not objects?
Even if one approaches grassroots innovation with an interest
in scaling-up inclusive innovation, further questions soon become
apparent. Evidence from our own research does include attempts
to develop promising grassroots innovations into scalable forms.
Typically, this proceeds through measures to formalise and commercialise
the innovation. The facilities and tools of conventional innovation
systems are brought to the services of promising grassroots innovators
and their innovations: through the provision of research, development
and demonstration; assistance with standards procedures; and help
securing intellectual property. Investment and marketing assistance
is also provided. Amongst the more advanced examples of this is
Innovation Foundation in India.
So one can analyse in-depth the processes for developing and marketing
goods and services arising from grassroots ingenuity. Models could
be developed for inclusive innovations relevant to markets lower
down the pyramid. However, this is a view that relates grassroots
innovation to inclusion in terms of outputs only. The grassroots
furnishes prototypes for the poor; and these are then turned into
goods and services for scaling-up, principally by expanding markets.
It is also a view that presumes an obvious risk-taking innovator
(analogous to a firm or inventor) to support and reward, and an
innovation that can be turned into a proprietary object. Of course,
the inclusive innovations that result need not be marketed commercially
to poorer consumers. Inclusive innovations might become products
that are distributed through donor development programmes or social
However, one of the key lessons from our research into grassroots
innovation movements is that the people involved can be as much
concerned about the processes of innovation as they are for the
outputs of innovation. Grassroots innovators and their networks
want to be involved in prioritising and framing the development
issue, making design choices, decisions about evaluative criteria
as well as evaluating success, undertaking further
development and production, how investments are made, and any
returns distributed or reinvested, as well as other aspects of
the innovation process. Grassroots innovators are concerned about
depth, and scope
of inclusion in innovation; and they are creating spaces for experimenting
with new forms of innovation process.
All of these are concerns that challenge the market-based approach
to scaling-up inclusive innovation noted above. A good example
here is experience with the Cisterna
for rainwater harvesting in Brazil. Cisterna involves the provision
of household and larger-scale rainwater collection systems that
can store sufficient water for families to get through the dry
seasons in semi-arid North-Eastern Brazil. The programme emerged
originally as a grassroots innovation. Local activists and engineers
pioneered an assisted process for households and communities to
build their own systems. It proved to be an innovation popular
with communities in the region. Wanting to scale-up the use of
rainwater harvesting, the government decided to purchase ready-made,
plastic systems for more rapid installation locally.
However, these standard units did not work well in all situations
buckling under the intense heat in some cases. Just as
significantly, simply installing this technology provided neither
the space nor processes for development workers and local community
members to address issues that affect how the systems would be
used. Unlike the government view on scaling-up, the grassroots
initiative was about more than providing families with water.
There was a desire to address local power relations that affected
not only access to water (and the injustices arising from reliance
on water tanked in by vendors) but expand it to other development
issues too. In its original form, Cisterna attempted through the
organisation of the self-build process to build up capabilities
for addressing social change, thereby giving people the confidence
and power to organise themselves, articulate demands, do projects,
and co-ordinate their maintenance. Protests in the region subsequently
reinstated a self-build track into the programme.
We found a similar difference in breadths of purpose in studying
projects in the UK. Again, the government has noticed grassroots
activity and begun developing strategies and support schemes with
a view to scaling-up initiatives. Again, however, the schemes
are framed quite narrowly, this time around engaging publics in
sustainable energy. Our research found the protagonists initiating
community energy projects had a wider set of economic, social
and political aims. These included building cohesion and solidarity
in the community, enhancing the skills and employability of people,
asserting ownership and democratic control over local renewable
resources, local jobs and economic development, and becoming less
reliant on centralised fossil energy. The aims were very context
specific and varied project-by-project: contextual sensitivities
that the scaling-up of standard community energy models or packages
At stake here are differences in framings
of grassroots innovation.
A more challenging framing sees grassroots innovation as providing
a space for people to experiment, and in so doing build up power
to do alternative developments in ways that challenge the structural
priorities of incumbent innovation systems. An additional benefit
to attending to inclusion in this way is that it opens up space
to confront the gender, class, ethnicity, age and other relations
that can sometimes be sources of exclusion, even in grassroots
initiatives, and to figure out how an innovation process might
be accompanied by other changes that ensure a more equitable and
inclusive outcome. It has to be remembered that the communities
within and across which grassroots innovation happens exhibit
(and need to address) inequality, exclusions, and hierarchies
just like the wider societies in which they are situated.
Innovation: exclusions, resistance and alternatives
Scaling-up is often seen in
terms of standardising.
However, even where the process of standardisation is trying to
result in more inclusive outcomes, the process can also exclude
other original features. Organic
for example, was an early grassroots example where organisations
like the Soil Association developed standards principally to assure
authenticity and help with scaling-up. But what expanded was a
set of standard and specific practices for cultivating crops and
livestock. Synthetics-free ingredients scaled-up and were inserted
into conventional food systems, rather than the original organic
movement vision for local food economies based in mixed farms.
Insufficient inclusion of the organic food vision prompted a reaction,
in the reappearance of more localised organic food provision through
box schemes, markets, and so forth. Practices in agro-ecology
represent innovations that resist the encroachment of agricultural
innovations based in high-input, capital-intense, industrialising
food production and consumption. It is difficult to foresee inclusion
operating smoothly across these two different worlds of innovation.
Other grassroots innovations arose similarly as ways of contesting
the development pathways implied by incumbent innovation systems.
As we see in areas of renewable energy now, such as for the Energiewende
in Germany, once innovations grow beyond their grassroots origins,
and concerns for ownership, empowerment and democratic control
become more assertive, then they can present challenges to incumbent
groups, and unsettle prevailing power relations. Sometimes, this
leads to the co-option and reinvention of the innovation into
forms more palatable to incumbents and their innovation systems.
We get utility-scale renewable electricity plants rather than
the decentralised electricity systems as envisaged by the pioneers
under ownership of local communities. What could become inclusive
innovation goes awry as the grassroots gets excluded through a
scaling-up based in standardisation, loss of context and insufficient
attention to power relations.
Debating the democratisation of innovation
So perhaps scaling-up is the wrong question? Scaling-up tends
to frame the issue as one of extent and quantity,
which glosses over important points of contestation around directions
and qualities of innovation. We need to think more carefully about
different kinds of inclusions, various sources of exclusions,
plural innovation pathways, and resistance and alternatives to
incumbent systems. Moreover, we need to think about inclusion
dynamically. Seeing inclusion in terms of correcting an exclusion
and bringing (market) access to a service through an innovation,
implies quite a settled view on innovation as providing fixes:
the situation is ameliorated by a more inclusive provision of
goods or service; the included passively welcome the innovation.
However, as we see in the case of Cisterna, the intended beneficiaries
might not be so pliant, they might demand more, or the innovation
experience might reveal further points of contestation and generate
new issues relevant to questions of inclusion and exclusion.
The argument made here accords with the symposium identification
with supporting the democratisation of innovation, but it suggests
such democratisation will not arise automatically through a technical
policy framing of the problem in scaling-up inclusive innovations.
We need to think about democratising innovation in much more political
How might an agenda based around the democratisation of innovation
differ from an inclusive innovation agenda? First and foremost,
it would attend to the power relations involved in innovation:
the power to do innovation, and power over innovation agendas.
The discussion above about scaling-up involves power relations
between the grassroots and innovation systems through the way
grassroots novelties are selected and developed. Who is in control
of these processes? What principles are in play over decisions
and selections? Our research finds that grassroots innovators
are interested in these questions. In a few cases, they articulate
it as a question of democratising innovation, or practicing innovation
for social justice. The symposium wants to identify key policy
principles for innovation; perhaps they should be democracy and
Drawing on grassroots debates, then a democratising innovation
agenda would address the opening-up of innovation systems. Practically,
that means thinking of more democratic arenas for establishing
research agendas, funding decisions, universities, research institutes,
venture and investment capital, training and skills programmes,
prototyping infrastructures, marketing, and so forth. It also
means building networks and coalitions between these arenas, where
the potential can be demonstrated through acts, amplified by lobbying,
and win influence through alliances. These are political challenges
about opening-up innovation systems, and making systems accessible
The practical challenges are considerable and uncertain. One practical
possibility arising from some grassroots initiatives suggests
scalingdown innovation systems, and decentralising facilities
and institutions to where people live. This has been attempted
with science shops and technology networks in the past, for example,
and is being explored through fablabs, hackerspaces and similar
community-based workshops today. There are other practical steps
that could be explored also, but there is not space to develop
Whatever gets considered, experience suggests we need to guard
against idealizing grassroots activism in design, experimentation,
and development of innovations. People do not respond automatically
to the provision of a material facilities and training programmes.
The spaces need be in tune with the contexts in which people live:
they have to be designed and cultivated carefully, through on-going
community development processes. And people have to be supported
in gaining confidence within these more structured spaces. Questions
of inclusion, exclusion, participation, and so forth are just
as pertinent in these grassroots spaces. Issues abound around
expertise, knowing how and knowing what, skills, tacit knowledge,
and practices that push the scope and flexibility of both high-
and low-technological options. The point is that these spaces
allow experimentation and learning in democracy itself and what
democratising innovation can mean practically.
Some concluding remarks
Words are powerful. They frame thinking and action. Clearly, inclusive
innovation is a term motivating a lot of work amongst policy agencies
at the moment (responsible innovation and social innovation are
other terms keeping agencies busy). The term inclusive innovation
provides welcome recognition that the focus and fruits of innovation
need to be redirected and redistributed. But it also raises questions
about what is being included in innovation.
In this post I have tried to argue that we need to think about
alternative terms, such as starting with democratising innovation
systems. What might happen if the normative (yet not too threatening)
goal of scaling-up inclusive innovation was replaced by aims to
open-up innovation systems to more democratic processes? Grassroots
innovation experience suggests this is a valid re-framing of the
Arguably, such an opening-up might lead to more diverse, balanced,
and distributed innovation systems and economic activity. A wider
sense of ownership and empowerment over innovative activity might
encourage responsible citizens, whose deliberations could, as
some democratic theory argues, generate richer discourses and
better decisions about innovation. Well only learn whether
this is the case or not if we ask the right questions.
This post by is based on Dr Adrian Smith's contribution to
a session on scaling up at the OECD
Symposium on Innovation and Inclusive Growth
in Paris on 20-21 March 2014. The article was originally written
as a blog for the STEPS
Event: the future of Green Architecture
future of Green Architecture
existing houses and historic buildings. Zero-energy buildings.
18:30 - 21:15
Day / Hemelvaartsdag
Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis,
Herengracht 518, 1017 CC Amsterdam
is not the regular museum entrance]
The conference language
A collaboration between Geelvinck
Huis and the Club
conference language is English.
Independent Architecture & Planning Professional
Why modern technique and sustainability are important for the
preservation of historic buildings.
Leader, Stadsherstel Amsterdam
Monumental buildings: possibilities for a sustainable future
de Ruiter, Architectenbureau Paul de Ruiter bv
Towards a CO2-neutral society
founding partner, lehner gunther
NEXTCity - Biodiversity
Design leading to more Quality of Life for all Species
Our Moderator is Tarik
Presenter at the Dutch public broadcaster NTR
and get your tickets
Event: the future of Transformation
future of Transformation
Registration: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Gebouw, Cabralstraat 1,
1057 CD Amsterdam
event is supported by the Coop
MidWest and the Andragologie
everywhere. Due to changes in the economy, the climate, technology
and lifestyle we are transforming our infrastructure, our houses,
our companies our cities and ourselves all the time. This evening
we will discuss the future of transformation. Big plans and top
down is over, are we ready now for bottom up or are there other
strategies to think of?
founder and owner, Creative Cities
Transformation in cities
of In Claritas
Things change all the time, but sometimes, things will never
be the same again.
van Schaik, Senior Research Fellow & Coordinator
Global Issues, Governance and Diplomacy, The Clingendael Institute
The politics of climate change
CIO, Managing Partner, Angel Wings Ventures
The Impact Investment Now!
and get your tickets
from the world of robots
robotic arm catches objects on the fly
Brain-controlled robot exhibited in Beijing
Lionel Messi VS
Robot Goalkeeper - Who Is Better?
noise the underestimated disruptive factor
signals disturb whales across great distances
Airguns can disturb marine mammals at distances as far away
as 2,000 kilometres says a new study by the Federal
Environment Agency (UBA)
and deteriorate both the physical and psychological well-being
of the animals. Maria Krautzberger, President of UBA, said: Noise
pollution in the oceans is increasing and seems on course to continue,
for one because of the expected exploration for natural resources
in the worlds oceans. Airguns are a key factor in this context.
Their sound bursts can severely impair the communication of blue
and fin whales in the worst case, across the entire distance
of an ocean. This would also occur if airguns were used
for scientific purposes only. Airguns were developed to search
the bottoms of the ocean for oil and gas stores.
It is absolutely vital for whales to perceive their environment
acoustically because they use their ears to see. If
acoustic signals are masked, their field of vision
is reduced and it can harm the biological fitness (physical and
mental condition) of marine mammals such as the blue whale and
fin whale. Nowadays man-made underwater noise is a virtually constant
reality in all oceans. Shipping traffic is a source of chronic
noise which has a high masking potential. Masking
means an overlapping of sound signals. An intended signal of communication
between marine mammals is covered up, or acoustically masked,
by an interfering signal. Such interfering signals come from airguns
which are used to explore the ocean floor. These signals are much
louder and often much shorter than typical ship noise. It has
long been suspected that these loud seismic signals can damage
the hearing of marine mammals since these sound bursts can be
1,000 times louder than a ship. Underwater noise can also interfere
with communication between marine mammals and their perception
of other sounds in their environment. Whales depend on these signals,
for example to find food or a mate.
The new UBA study
shows that airgun signals can have an impact at distances of up
to at least 2,000 kilometres (km). This can affect animals living
within the Antarctic Specially Protected Areas located south of
60° south, even airguns are in use on ships located north
of 60° latitude. Airgun signals can evolve into intermittent
noise with high masking potential already at medium distances
of 500 to 1,000 km. At distances of over 1,000 km the airgun bursts
can develop into continuous noise. This results in a loss of the
natural communication distance of blue and fin whales in Antarctica,
reducing it to about one per cent of its original range.
The results of the
UBA study show that masking effects and significant impact on
the vocalisations of animals are possible across great distances
and must be taken into consideration in the environmental impact
assessment of impulsive sound sources like airguns. The model
in this project will be further developed in a follow-up project
which will enable applicability to other habitats. These habitats
include the Arctic, which is expected to experience a lot of use
of airguns to image the ocean floor for mineral resources and
for research purposes. UBA's President Maria Krautzberger said:
"We must know exactly what the effects of sound waves from
airguns are on marine mammals and take this into account in the
environmental assessment of marine research. We therefore need
an international noise action plan, perhaps in the framework of
the Antarctic Treaty System."
The German Federal
Ministry for Environment put into force a noise action plan for
the North Sea on 1 December 2013. It enables the sustainable development
of offshore wind power in Germany. The aim is to protect the native
porpoise against noise, in particular when rearing its young.
Noise is caused when foundation piles for wind turbines are driven
into the seabed.
The airguns used for underground exploration are essentially
metal cylinders charged with high-pressure air which is then fired
in bursts similar to an explosion. The burst creates an air bubble
which generates a very short but very loud sound signal. Most
of the acoustic signals emitted from airguns are in the low frequency
range of up to 300 Hertz, making an overlap with the sounds and
vocalisations of whales and seals probable. The baleen, blue and
fin whale common to the Antarctic Sea communicate by and large
in this frequency range.
report on UBA study Assessment
of potential for masking in marine mammals of the Antarctic exposed
to underwater sound from airguns
of Amsterdam blog
of Amsterdam blog
by Humberto Schwab, Philosopher, Owner, Humberto Schwab Filosofia
SL, Director, Club of Amsterdam
Ukrainian Dilemma and the Bigger Picture
by Hardy F. Schloer, Owner, Schloer Consulting Group - SCG, Advisory
Board of the Club of Amsterdam
impact of culture on education
by Huib Wursten, Senior Partner, itim International and
Carel Jacobs is senior consultant/trainer for itim in The Netherlands,
he is also Certification Agent for the Educational Sector of the
more demand for meat means for the future
Christophe Pelletier, The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.
peace and generosity
by Elisabet Sahtouris, Holder
of the Elisabet Sahtouris Chair in Living Economies, World Business
and many more contributions.
about the Future
Sets Record for Most Miles Traveled in a Day by a Battery-Electric
A bus built by
Proterra has set a record for the most miles traveled by a battery-electric
bus in a day traveling more than 700 miles in 24 hours.
Equally impressive is the fact that on this trip the bus recorded
an average fuel economy of nearly 27 miles per gallon
nearly six times that of a diesel bus and seven times that of
CNG. The record was set as part of normal testing conducted
on Proterra buses before they are delivered.
meat: every village its own factory?
Rising global demand
for meat will result in increased environmental pollution, energy
consumption, and animal suffering. Cultured meat, produced in
an animal-cell cultivation process, is a technically feasible
alternative lacking these disadvantages, provided that an animal-component-free
growth medium can be developed. Small-scale production looks particularly
promising, not only technologically but also for societal acceptance.
"We believe that cultured meat is part of the future,"
said Prof. Dr. Cor van der Weele of Wageningen University in The
Netherlands. "Other parts of the future are partly substituting
meat with vegetarian products, keeping fewer animals in better
circumstances, perhaps eating insects, etc. This discussion is
certainly part of the future in that it is part of the search
for a 'protein transition.' It is highly effective in stimulating
a growing awareness and discussion of the problems of meat production
Innovation: Solutions for a Sustainable Future (CSR, Sustainability,
Ethics & Governance)
by Thomas Osburg (Editor), René Schmidpeter
Social Innovation is becoming an increasingly important topic
in our global society. Those organizations which are able to develop
business solutions to the most urgent social and ecological challenges
will be the leading companies of tomorrow. Social Innovation not
only creates value for society but will be a key driver for business
success. Although the concept of Social Innovation is discussed
globally the meaning and its impact on the development of new
business strategies is still heavily on debate. This publication
has the goal to give a comprehensive overview of different concepts
in the very innovative field of Social Innovation, from a managerial
as well as from a theoretical and social perspective. Over 30
leading thinkers in the field of Innovation, Strategic Management
and Organizational Development give a well structured inside on
the latest developments and progress in the field of Social Innovation.
Thereby the authors not only develop a comprehensive and unique
analysis on the state-of-the art of social innovation but also
give practical advice and information to business leaders on how
to apply the latest management thinking on Social Innovation to
daily business decisions. This publication has the intention to
become a milestone in the further development of the concept of
Social Innovation as well as to further stimulate new business
strategies necessary to overcome world most pressing social and
Philosopher, Owner, Humberto
Schwab Filosofia SL,
Director, Club of Amsterdam
You can only design when you
now from where, towards what and for what reasons.
Socratic Design is a radical way
of changing our paradigms, the way we think and the way we live. We need a radical
approach because the soft, step by step, way does not bring us further. We are
still heading full speed towards different crises. At the same time there is
a lot of innovative intelligence, why are we so powerless?
The simple answer is, because we
are looking in the wrong corner and in the wrong way. It is not the world we
have to change; we have to transform our way of thinking, acting and feeling.
We are addicted to old ideas, old thoughts and old feelings. Our mind is not
a free sweeping rational engine, nor is the world around us a fixed entity of
stable facts. Both are deep fallacies. So if we innovate with our old mind still
intact, we will just reproduce more of the same in a different format! You can
dress it up but that does not change the content.
Socratic Design is a program of awareness and of an action transformation for
business, organizations and individuals. It makes us aware that everything around
us (all that is touched by men), is designed. The world is designed according
to assumptions, a world view and paradigms. In the Socratic practice we identify
these and analyze them with scrutiny. In Socratic philosophy we have the tools
to execute this analysis consequently and consistently.
The objects, the buildings, and
the very infrastructure of our society are based on assumptions. For example,
the house is built on the assumption that we want to live privately, that we
want to separate sleeping and eating, that we want to protect ourselves and
our possessions with doors, locks, gates etc. Each of these assumptions leans
on deeper assumptions. That we lock the doors, assumes that people will probably
act as thieves, this assumes that people are selfish or ego oriented. The world
around us is built on this assumption, all the design that surrounds us is suffused
with this approach. All governmental programs will be based on the assumption
that this is the true nature of man.
In Socratic practice we can de-construct
even the most hidden assumptions. An example is the assumption that all that
is abstract has more truth than what is concrete and personal. The more something
is distanced from you, the more objective it is. What you experience is just
your opinion - what really is true is the generalization, abstracted from personal
Even small things like pencils, or chairs or clothes are designed and thus contain
the same assumptions. Cultural fallacies (false assumptions) are stored away
hidden in our things that surround us. But here comes the devil: the surroundings
determine our inner way of thinking, conditioning our thoughts and our feelings.
If you as a child, were to walk around in a school full of cameras, security
doors, bullet proof glass and permanent monitoring, you would start to think,
feel and act as a criminal.
If you enter a hotel where they
offer free drinking from the minibar as much as you like, most of us (not all)
will feel very responsible and act moderately. If I approach pupils as managers
of their learning process, giving them all the responsibility, they will act
So we are not independent, rational agents (cultural fallacy): we are dependent
on the environment we design ourselves. How best then, to break out of this
vicious circle of reproducing new thoughts that will only perpetuate old assumptions?
Even more disturbing is the fact
that we think that we are thinking, but most of the time we are rehearsing the
same thoughts over and over again. It would be better to use the word "thought"
as the past tense of "to think" instead of the present tense, because
that is what we mostly do!
The endorphin brain system gives
us a release of nice "feeling", when we have these same old thoughts
over and over again. Thanks to this reward we get the impression that we really
are thinking while the thoughts "run us".
Socratic Design establishes a sensitive environment to engage in "deep
listening" by Socratic dialog. These Socratic dialogs transform us from
ego and ratio oriented atoms into a collective sensitive mind that is capable
of "listening" to the deepest human values and needs. This method
guarantees a higher level of thinking. It frees us from the old addictive neuron-circuits,
because each individual mind is "forced" to leave that behind.
This sensitive collective organ
is the producer of instantaneous wisdom, capable of creating genuinely real
knowledge. This knowledge is concrete, personal and built on questions about
our values, our authentic needs and on our vision of a good life.
It is astonishing how many great
minds, CEOs, leaders and politicians decrease their thinking quality-once they've
reached their chosen field: they just retreat in to rehearsing admittedly very
clever thoughts that got them there in the first place.
It is not their fault; the top
has to broadcast messages that fit in the paradigm of the organization. So we
absorb, like the kid in the school, the narrative of the company, and begin
to live in it in a subconscious way.
The exciting thing about Socratic dialog is that we have to create knowledge
each time again from scratch. Knowledge is the way we create the world around
us every second. There are no facts; you see what you are focused on. So if
we could start really thinking with these clever minds we would really be free
of old "coal and steel" thoughts and get into "grafeen design"!
Real thinking is the state-of-the-art
creative process. As such, we should only design things and practices when we
are at our sharpest that means when we are in this super collaborative state
of practical wisdom.
Socratic Design uses the deepest thoughts of the participants; they bear a lot
of tacit knowledge, by making this explicit to the group, we leave procedures
knowledge (which often does not match reality) behind and show what we really
do; the teacher telling what teaching really is about, instead of using a didactic
model, the furniture maker showing how to use the tools. Tacit knowledge contains
values, practices, feelings that cannot be gathered by abstract information
management or so called knowledge management!
Socratic Design does two things: It gets people in a listening mode out of their
own circular thoughts by strong moderation AND creates knowledge which starts
from universal basic questions. At the end of the day everything boils down
to the question "How do we want to live?" or "What is a good
A product, a service or an application
is always related to this question (Undoubtedly, kids would answer the question
about a good life: with the Lego game).
For a company to create good stuff,
the leader has to be a multiplier in creative thinking, enabling communication
and freeing the company from bigotry and fear of leaving the comfort zone. We
rigorously analyze the assumptions and narratives of a person or organization,
we bring out tacit knowledge, and we create a landscape of values. Within this
moral and aesthetic landscape, we design and fashion new assumptions and best
practices into a new paradigm. Thanks to Socratic dialog, we can leave old assumptions
and thoughts behind. This paradigm contains designed narratives about human
beings and their lives. The vision or paradigms include new forms of language
(words create our factual world), good organization based on narratives, strong
procedures and continuous organized intelligence through dialog.
We ourselves can design our lives ourselves towards our biggest
goals from deepest human values.
Portrait: Jeremy Rifkin
Rifkin is the bestselling author of twenty books on the impact
of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce,
society, and the environment. His books have been translated into
more than thirty five languages and are used in hundreds of universities,
corporations and government agencies around the world.
Mr. Rifkin is the
founder and president of The
Foundation on Economic Trends
in Bethesda, MD. The Foundation examines the economic, environmental,
social and cultural impacts of new technologies introduced into
the global economy.
Jeremy Rifkin has
been an advisor to the European Union for the past decade. Mr.
Rifkin also served as an adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy
of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister
Jose Socrates of Portugal, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero of Spain, and Prime Minister Janez Jana of Slovenia,
during their respective European Council Presidencies, on issues
related to the economy, climate change, and energy security. He
currently advises the European Commission, the European Parliament,
and several EU and Asian heads of state.
Mr. Rifkin is the
principle architect of the European Union's Third Industrial Revolution
long-term economic sustainability plan to address the triple challenge
of the global economic crisis, energy security, and climate change.
The Third Industrial Revolution was formally endorsed by the European
Parliament in 2007 and is now being implemented by various agencies
within the European Commission as well as in the 27 member-states.
"Our way of
life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next
few decades than in the previous 1,000 years. Food and fiber
will likely be grown indoors in giant bacteria baths, partially
eliminating the farmer and the soil for the first time in history.
Animal and human cloning could be commonplace, with "replication"
increasingly replacing "reproduction." Millions of
people could obtain a detailed genetic readout of themselves,
allowing them to gaze into their own biological future and predict
and plan their lives in ways never before possible. Parents
may choose to have their children conceived in test-tubes and
gestated in artificial wombs outside the human body. Genetic
changes could be made in human fetuses to correct deadly diseases
and disorders and enhance mood, behavior, intelligence and physical
"We need to
move beyond the delusion of retraining for a dwindling number
of mass wage labor jobs, and begin to ponder the unthinkable
- to prepare ourselves and our institutions for a world that
is phasing out mass employment in the production and marketing
of goods and services. Redefining the role of the individual
in a near workerless society is likely to be the most pressing
issue in the decades to come."
become a giant laboratory for rethinking humanity's future.
In many respects, the European Dream is the mirror opposite
of the American Dream. While the American Dream emphasizes economic
growth and individual opportunity, the European Dream focuses
more on sustainable development, and the quality of life. We
Americans emphasize the work ethic. Europeans place more of
a premium on balancing work and leisure. America has always
seen itself as a great melting pot. Europeans, instead, prefer
to preserve their rich multicultural diversity. We believe in
maintaining a strong military presence in the world. Europeans,
by contrast, emphasize economic cooperation and consensus over
traditional geo-political approaches to foreign policy."
Jeremy Rifkin "The Zero Marginal Cost Society"
on the Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things
Season Events 2013 / 2014
May 29, 2014
future of Green Architecture
existing houses and historic buildings. Zero-energy
May 29, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
Day / Hemelvaartsdag
Location: Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis, Herengracht
518, 1017 CC Amsterdam [this
is not the regular museum entrance]
Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis and
the Club of Amsterdam
June 26, 2014
future of Transformation
June 26, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
Gebouw, Cabralstraat 1, 1057 CD Amsterdam (Near
The event is supported
by the Coop MidWest and the Andragologie Alumni
comments, ideas, articles are welcome!
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