When I hear so much worry and fear about the state of "the world," I often think, "We need some perspective."

We're in process: most people call it "evolution." But I don't mean Darwin's evolution, the evolution of science, which gives us a half-baked idea. Here’s one of my favorite thought exercises.  Suppose we met a genie who agreed to magically reverse all environmental degradation of the last, say, three hundred years or so.  He gives us a pristine planet once again. But alas, we overlook a crucial factor - human thought!  How long do you suppose it would take for us to mess everything up again?

The genie points out: our problem is not of nature, but of culture.

Social Sculpture: Enabling Society to Change Itself

In our work at Reos, we help stakeholders from across an entire social system come together to see their challenge from a whole-system perspective. With the whole picture in view, they then design, test, and evolve ideas for initiatives that they believe have the potential to address their challenge.

A key part of this process is uncovering and identifying the mindsets deep within the fabric of the social challenge: core beliefs, paradigms, assumptions, world views, dogmas, and identities that in turn shape behaviour, relationships, policies, and other structures that profoundly shape our lives. These vary from culture to culture, challenge to challenge, but they are always present. Systems thinking pioneer Donella Meadows pointed out that changing a mindset is a powerful leverage point.1 Imagine, for example, if we all believed that money in the bank became less valuable over time—a negative interest rate—or if nature had rights. Our use of money and natural resources would look very different.