Optimists who want better futures must not have a crisis of imagination
My argument is yes. Strategy design and optimism are, I think, two sides of the same coin. That is on the proviso that design includes, from time to time, not designing or simply allowing chaos and natural order to have its way. You see, even a cursory glance at the world we live in suggests that all is not well and that staying as we are is just not smart. Therefore the bigger and sooner the 'tsunamis' arrive the better off we might all be, as it will force change. Can we allow an ever increasing number of our cities to look like Hong Kong in January? What does it mean that the so called successful societies are also the most obese? How is it that we can improve our standard of living and drive quality of life down at the same time? In short is what we have now really that good?
A recent survey in Britain - “Chasing Progress - Beyond Measuring Economic Growth” - showed that despite the Gross Domestic Product , [that is wealth] increasing since the time of Margaret Thatcher, the Measure of Domestic Progress (MDP) or social domestic product has gone down. MDP measures the social progress of a society through things like crime rates, air quality, family breakdown and life satisfaction or happiness data. Obesity is perhaps the most telling symptom.
When you think about it, if this is the future that developing countries aspire to then both we, and they, are in deep trouble.
So better will mean change, and change means that we will feel a sense of loss. The upside though is great. As long as we can cope with diversity, openness and tolerance, all we have to do is to try and stand in the future and imagine what it might be like. We know that we have the technological smarts to provide the answers. As an aside, I can’t believe in a world that will soon approach 8 billion people some commentators are actually suggesting that we return to the way things were. That is simply not possible.
I’m suggesting that the optimists start becoming purposefully impatient with those, who argue that the status quo will suffice, unless the evidence suggests otherwise. I so often run across cynical public servants simply perpetuating their own games, some so-called business people acting in unethical and self serving ways, and many people seduced and obsessed by the next sports circus put in front of them. Optimists need to speak out now in very forceful ways, and encourage the navigation debate sooner rather than later.