Interdependence, fear, crisis and collaboration

Conecting interdependence, fear, crisis and collaboration is far from being obvious. Through different dialogue sessions and shared articles, a bunch of so called systems thinkers are exploring systems interrrelationships or interdependences related to this crises. On this post, I share some thoughts.

System reinforcing loops and balancing loops

In life systems, reinforcing loops follow their own escalation behaviour – positive or negative. Introducing succesive balancing loops or corrective measures to change the curve increase (% of virus infection over time) or the curve decrease (% employment decrease) could be costly. This is a lesson from my friend Sheila: https://sheilasingapore.wordpress.com/chapter-2-what-is-the-practice-of-a-learning-organization/the-three-core-learning-capabilities/.

On chapter 3 of Sheila´s blog, we can read the laws of dynamic complexity. The law #1 says: «today problems come from yesterday solutions». Rather than stressing for inmediate solutions, we should reflect about the persistent problems/behaviours that drove us to here.

Biological and economic interdependence

Biology at individual level, meaning paying attention to healthy food, nutrition and healthy lifestyle as strongly related to self inmunity, is pointed out as neglected system triggering this crises. We all see now the interdependence between biological and economic systems. There were many articles over years talking about obesity, junk food, street food, excess of meat consumption, just-in-time food, etc. By being fascinated by technology and digital engineers and by ignoring biologists, nutritionist and naturalists, we were increasing our own vulnerability.

For the last 25 years, through global trade, nations, businesses and individuals have been expanding our global interdependence. Different management approaches and models were promoting the flow efficiency (just-in-time, lean, agile, etc.) as condition for interdepence. The «presenteism» or just-in-time lifestyle at individual level is a relevant piece of the business flow efficiency. «Growth and underinvestment» is another system archetype: global economic and wealth growth, before 2008 and before 2020 crises, was parallel to underinvesting on global health care.

What most of us did not realise is that fear was growing accros borders at the same time as information and products were flowing. The virus infection across borders follow similar interdependence pattern as information and commodities did.

In conversations with my friend Manuel, we believe that one condition to trust global interdependence is to raise global standards. Number 3 UN sustainable development goal is about «good health and wellbeing». Until now, pollution was a kind of externatility for which many countries and businesses were prepared to pay a penalty, even thought they were complaining this cost was reducing their competitiveness. We didn´t care because we were on the flow.

Until now, human being health was also considered as a kind of externality. Scientists and systems thinkers interrrelate climate changes and virus infections. We can anticipate global and local pressure for raising standards on both.

Content, knowledge and collaboration interdependence

What we have observed before and during this crises is the exponential growth of content and knowledge production -books, articles, masterclass, physical and digital conferences- prescribing models and recommendations, cumulating certificates and graduations. For years now, I´ve been pointing at my clients that nowadays there is a surplus of content and knowledge, and a deficit of collaboration. Too much clever people and not enough collaborative values.

Although information and knowledge are relevant, they are mostly linked to successive balancing loops. Schools, colleges, universities and business schools are delivering toolkits of balancing loops. The more fear, the more we consumme balancing loops; the more we consume balancing loops, the more we feel depressive for not meeting the expected standards. Until now, systems interdependence and fluidity is been mostly possible because of the digital technology. We now see this vulnerability as we are missing biology.

Because of the strong business and social competition during peace times or because of the systemic crisis now, fear is all everywhere.

Interdependence implies developping learning and collaborative skills as they connect individuals, teams and communities to reinforcing loops; collaboration is opposite to fear. Interdepence implies local and global collaborative ecosystems. The efficiency of collaborative ecosystems depends on our collective capacity to learn, learning is opposite to teaching, learning is more connected to sense making, enabling us to growth. Are we ready to shift from the transportation/teaching individualistic model towards the collaborative/learning one?

Fear, crises and politics interdependence

The deeper the crises, the faster humans feed arguments and narratives about the (supposed) consequences and actions needed to exit the crises. Fear drive us towards a quest for rapid solutions and recomendations, rather than to dedicate time to understand the deep causes of the systemic crises. Fear feeds future fiction into present reality as a way to condition collective understanding and decisions.

Politics is the discipline specialised in inventing fictional consequences and inputing them into the social system as if they were intentional causes. Politicians feed people fear by recycling fictional arguments into intentional arguments. Politicians feed fear and confusion to legitimate ideological decisions and selling them packaged as if they were technical-rational one. Politicians input fear to people in order for people to feel secure about polititians subsequent decisions. From this perspective, politics is also the way to avoid the exploration of the deep causes of our systemic crises. This is why polititians do not trust scientists nor systems thinkers.