Some thoughts on the European Union project after the Greek NO vote


Some thoughts on the European Union project after the Greek NO vote:

1. I voted YES to the European Union myself in the Swedish referendum in 1994. At the time, with the knowledge and understanding of a 21yr-old, it seemed like a logical thing. I loved the multicultural, bridge-building, transnational aspects of the EU, and didn’t understand the economic aspects much back then.

2. I think the EU deserved the Nobel Peace prize for peace it was given in 2012 “for helping to transform Europe from ‘continent of war’ into ‘continent of peace'”. It has been a stabilizing force for the fragmented Europe for a long time.

3. But is the union still relevant? Everything has its time. Today’s challenges are very different from those in 1950, when the EU seeds where sown as the European Coal and Steel Community formed. In today’s truly globalized world; does it make sense to build walls around a chunk of our planet, where only some goods, services, people and money can move freely? Countries have always entered partnerships, collaborations and alliances with each other, but none of these have lasted, so why would this one?

4. Perhaps my biggest concern with the union is the old question ‘Cui Bono?’, i.e. ‘who benefits’? And more importantly ‘who doesn’t?’.


5. Meso systems such as the EU might be a stepping stone to new global, distributed systems. Many of us work in creating a global connected network of local, thrivable communities. The challenge in that work (to me at least) is that the difference between the micro (local community building) and the macro (global network weaving) seems so huge, and it’s hard to work simultaneously on both (and find sustainable value exchanges in both). Perhaps meso systems like the EU can actually help here? EU for example funds Edgeryders, one of my favourite transnational changemaker communities.

6. Would I vote yes to the EU again today?
Probably. My intuition says yes.

The death of the social entrepreneur?

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Norwegian peace researcher, sociologist and mathematician Johan Galtung has invented a method called TRANSCEND for conflict transformation by peaceful means. According to Galtung (and Wikipedia);

“there are four traditional but unsatisfactory ways in which conflicts between two parties are handled:

  1. A wins, B loses;
  2. B wins, A loses;
  3. the solution is postponed because neither A nor B feels ready to end the conflict;
  4. a confused compromise is reached, which neither A nor B are happy with.

Galtung tries to break with these four unsatisfactory ways of handling a conflict by finding a “fifth way”, where both A and B feel that they win. The method also insists that basic human needs – such as survival, physical well-being, liberty, and identity – be respected.”


I’ve been thinking about using the TRANSCEND method for one of today’s conflicts. The profit vs. non-profit conflict.

We have recently come to understand that for-profit organisations are problematic, as they do not always care about the planet and its people. These are not considered in their model and seen as “externalities” to be cared for by others.

Most non-profits care for these, but on the other hand often don’t care about profit and financial viability. Both these organisational forms are therefore problematic. There has always been a tension between them, which has been seen as good for the evolution of the planet and humanity. If one of them becomes too strong the other will push back through the democratic process.

Some people still think these can co-exist and that the tension between for-profit and non-profit is healthy. Others see a conflict and point out that for-profit, market economy / capitalism itself is actually fuelling the fire of the challenges that the non-profits try to tackle. Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything for instance writes that:

“Very little, however, has been written about how market fundamentalism has, from the very first moments, systematically sabotaged our collective response to climate change, a threat that came knocking just as this ideology was reaching its zenith.”

Market proponents mean that the markets will solve this eventually and the planet will survive. Their opponents mean that markets are the underlying problem to the destruction of the planet. We have a conflict.


If we apply TRANSCEND to this conflict it could look like this:

(I use for-profit vs. non-profit as the chosen conflict here. It could be capitalism vs. collectivism, market economy vs. peer economy, scarcity-based vs. abundance-based thinking etc etc – you get the point…)

1. A wins, B loses, i.e. for-profit wins, NFP loses. This is what some people think is happening now. The planet is currently being destroyed because for-profit is winning. The tension between the two is out of balance on a global scale. The for-profit model and the organisations which subscribe to it, have much more impact than non-profit organisations. Microsoft has way more impact on the world than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Apple have way more impact on the planet than Greenpeace. They play in totally different leagues. And this gap is growing. Even if non-profits, charitable foundations and cause-driven organisations are growing in size and impact, they are hopelessly behind.

2. B wins, A loses; i.e. NFP wins, for-profit loses. Many argue for this as the way forward and a world where NFPs dominate. Donnie Maclurcan and Jennifer Hinton of the Post-Growth Institute for example write in The Guardian: “We’re witnessing the rise of a workforce increasingly motivated by purpose, and we’re realising the potential of an existing business structure called not-for-profit (NFP) enterprise.”

3. The solution is postponed because neither A nor B feels ready to end the conflict. There is actually no conflict yet, but if Naomi Klein and others will get their message through, the “conflict” might escalate into something more resembling a conflict. Klein’s attacks on multinational corporations and the negative effects of globalisation (in No Logo) and US “democratization” of other countries (in The Shock Doctrine) have done much to change global opinions. Perhaps her new book, This Changes Everything, will do the same?

4. A confused compromise is reached, which neither A nor B are happy with. Today we see many hybrids between A and B, i.e. between the for-profit, market-based, scarcity model and the non-profit, purpose-driven, planet & people-including model. Conscious capitalism, for-benefit corporations, responsible capitalism, social enterprise and a plethora of new or tweaked models have emerged in recent decades. But are these only confused compromises, I wonder?
I have noticed others wonder as well:

* In a recent article, Rick Cohen asks the question “Is social enterprise becoming a reactionary force?” and whether “‘benefit corporations’ are “the harbinger of progressive change in the economy, or the soft edge of efforts to conserve the legitimacy of capitalism with a few marginal adjustments?”

* Joe Corbett argues that “Conscious Capitalism is like voluntary recycling, it is a mere gesture toward a more sustainable economic system, and is no solution to the globally systemic crisis of an insatiable drive toward ever increasing profit and consumption.”

* And management guru Henry Mintzberg calls bullshit on all new adjectives latched onto capitalism: “We have Sustainable Capitalism, Caring Capitalism, Breakthrough Capitalism, Democratic Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism, Regenerative Capitalism, Inclusive Capitalism”. “The assumption seems to be that If only we can get capitalism right, all will be well with the world. No doubt capitalism needs some fixing: the short-term pressures of stock markets are encouraging mercenary behaviours that are doing great harm to our democracies, our planet, and ourselves.”


I’m intrigued by transcending rather than compromising here.

So which would be Galtung’s “fifth way“? Something, where people who support both A and B, i.e. both for-profit and not-for-profit would feel that they win?

Galtung suggests a pathway: Creativity – transcendence – conflict transformation.

“Transcendence means redefining the situation so that what looked incompatible, blocked, is unlocked, and a new landscape opens up. Creativity is the key to that lock, block. The conflict has been transformed.”

That landscape is still not clear to me. I think there’s something in imagining a new landscape in a collective effort, but it’s way beyond me.

Suggestions, anyone?

Dear Robots. Please take our jobs.

Maslow-hierarchy I’m revisiting Maslow’s hierarchy. And I realise this:

Work is nowhere to be found in Maslow’s hierarchy!

And I also realise what an incredible challenge this is for us in the Western developed world. Many important things are there in the hierarchy – like food, safety, creative activities, friends and prestige. But we have – in our twisted Lutheran minds – somehow created this thing called “work” to replace “life” to fulfil many of the needs included in the pyramid. This might have been fine for a long time. But now we have definitely reached a point in human evolution where “work” as a concept does more harm than good. Some examples (you know them + more…): * We identify to an unhealthy degree with our work, and have problems building other meaningful identities. * We work too much and suffer individual, family and societal consequences of workaholism. * We work hard to gain status, instead on working on the right things to make our world a better place. * We work just for the sake of work.

So our challenge is to replace “work” with something else.

*** These crumbling illusions based on our mental or sociological lives slowly grind down the concept and illustrate its hollow nature. Another factor which rapidly transforms our image of the necessity of “work” is the fact that robots will soon take most of our jobs. And in our twisted Lutheran minds we cry; “No! No!” they’re taking our jobs!” instead of the healthier response “Yes! Yes! They’re taking our jobs!”. We’re scared of robots taking our jobs. But not because we fear the post-work life. No: We’re scared of robots taking our jobs, because we fear the unknown post-work concept – that concept, which will replace all elements in Maslow’s hierarchy (and more) soon. So. Let’s: A. Not fear the robots. B. Stop working. C. Start imagining and creating our personal and collective post-work futures.

Six ingredients for better schools


Recently I came across two things which I felt are very important in our work to make education better. Whether we work within the existing education systems or outside it, I think it’s worth considering these things.

The first four are taken from a quote from an article written by Kaos Pilot principal Christer Windeløv-Lidzélius:

“If we, as a school devoted to leadership and entrepreneurship, can help bestow a sense of self, a sense of skill, a sense of belonging and a sense of direction, much can be obtained.”

In Otto Scharmer’s Stanford University edX MOOC U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self he began by showing the following image:

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If we put these together we end up with the following (self knowledge and sense of self can be combined…):

Six ingredients for better schools:

1. Provide a sense of self

2. Provide a sense of skill

3. Provide a sense of belonging

4. Provide a sense of direction

5. Link the power of entrepreneurship with passion and compassion

6. Take learning out of the classroom

The in-between era

This image is from a recent Harvard Business Review article. It nicely illustrates the polarization of values in “new” and “old” paradigm organisations:


The right hand column in the image is what we futurists call a preferred future.

Even if the characteristics of the “new power values” in this future are what many of us wish for, we’re far from there yet. The left hand column of “old power values” still dominates our lives. However, it’s now increasingly clear to us that many aspects of these values no longer work. But on the other hand, the new power values don’t work either, as that preferred future is not here yet.

I guess our challenge today is that we’re in between the two paradigms – somewhere in the strange space between these two columns.

Some of us work towards the new paradigm, but still within the old paradigm. And this work is naturally confusing, conflicting and difficult for most of us.

Some call this the post-normal era: An era characterized by transition, emergence, shifts, both/and approaches, uncertainties and paradoxes. I think depth, foresight, presence and hope are some key tools/concepts to make sense of this in-between era.

Injecting the Future

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The image here illustrates a model for change we discussed over the weekend in the local Western Australian Future of Learning and Education event for the 3rd Global Education Hackathon.

On the x-axis we have time and on the y-axis impact.

Those who work in a new or alternative paradigms of education (whether it’s online MOOCs, alternative approaches, peer-to-peer concepts, life-long education, self-directed learning, home schooling, multiple intelligence based learning, indigenous wisdom, Meetup groups, etc) often struggle to be accepted, certified and acknowledged by the “old”, formal education system.

One way to envision exchange between the two systems is by acupuncture or “injection” of a future virus in the old paradigm. The benefit for the whole is a more seamless transition between the two systems, which will eventually happen anyway, but with more or less friction. The creative forces in the new, alternative paradigm cannot be prevented and will eventually win.

The challenge here for both the old and new is to find the exchange mechanisms between the paradigms. The systems of the old paradigm are set up to react against the new and most of the new does not fit into the templates – hence the slow ‘death by stagnation’ of the old.

What can educators, learning hackers and entrepreneurs gain from trading with the other side? And how can they do this?

Intrapreneurs Build Better Typewriters


I recently wrote about the current slow death of the institution.

It’s  increasingly obvious that the efficiencies we humans have gained in using institutions (to create scale, while minimizing transaction costs and increasing profits) no longer are relevant. The internet have changed this and institutions are obsolete.


Yes.  As futurist and director of IFTF Marina Gorbis explains in this talk, there is no financial point in us having institutions any more, and therefore (as we live in a world where money decides) institutions will soon disappear.

“You can think of organisations as a technology for creating scale and minimizing cost. This technology is being disrupted.”

They will likely be replaced with online networks, peer-to-peer solutions or other post-organisational structures.

But the centralized institution as we know it will soon be gone.

It’s like the typewriter. Once an important and ubiquitous technology… And now gone…


For years I was a believer in intrapreneurship: To use the principles of entrepreneurship to hack or disrupt large organisations from within, while maintaining the actual system, the organisation.

Today I think of intrapreneurs as a bit like those guys who tried to re-invent the typewriter back in the day.

“Hey, Look! We can add another colour to the pad so that you can type in both black and red now!”

“Look! We have invented an electric typewriter. You don’t need to move the paper down with the scroller thingy, now you just plug the typewriter into the wall and press this button!”

These guys had no idea that the typewriter would be replaced with a smartphone soon. They thought that the typewriter would always be around in a different shape or form.

Exactly like people who spend their time managing and trying to change or develop large rganisations today. They think that these organisations will always be around.

But why?

Organisations are a technology like any technology, and it is obsolete. The benefits are no longer there.

Sure, there are social and other benefits, but that’s not enough. If it doesn’t make financial sense it will go.


Do you work to make organisations better? As a manager, organisational development expert, change management consultant, intrapreneur or similar?

Be careful. You are likely holding evolution back. You are probably a barrier to progress.

As John Hagel recently pointed out in his excellent 21st Century Global Declaration of Independence:

“We find ourselves now at a crossroads in history. The institutions – commercial, educational, political and civic – that we created in an earlier era in an effort to expand our potential have now become increasingly significant barriers to progress. It is not surprising that our trust in these institutions is plummeting around the world. We see so much opportunity and yet the institutions that are supposed to be helping us are increasingly standing in our way.”

Don’t try to build a better typewriter.

Where To From Here? Why Strategy in 2014 is so difficult.



The image here was used for a recent Meetup for Stockholm Futurists. It’s a graphic representation of futurist Jim Dator’s four alternative futures archetypes;

  • continuation (a.k.a. growth, business-as-usual, all-is-fine, keep-calm-and-carry-on),
  • collapse (systemic failure on a massive scale)
  • discipline (simplicity, sustainability, fundamentalism)
  • transformation (radical shift of some sort)

These archetypes seem to come back over and over again in civilizations of the past, according to Dator’s studies. And today – as before – these four trajectories are on the cards for us and our civilisation.

But which one will it be?

Being a futurist and thinking about these models all the time makes it very difficult to strategize and make plans. Sometimes I wish that continuation and the business-as-usual scenario was the only thing on my mind. Life would be so much easier then.

I think about the likelihood of these four. And this depends on who you listen to.

  • If you listen to futurist Richard Slaughter, Gaia scientist James Lovelock and Dark Mountain co-founder Paul Kingsnorth, we’re in for a collapse.
  • If you listen to mega-entrepreneur Peter Diamandis and friends we’re in for abundance and a never-before seen exponential technology extravaganza.
  • If you listen to the Transition movement, the Green political movement and other sensible environmental groups we can change behaviour towards disciplined, simplified lifestyles.
  • If you listen to Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joanna Macy and fellow evolutionaries, we are in for a shift of consciousness beyond our imagination.
  • If you listen to Ray Kurzweil and the singularitarians we are in for another type of incomprehensible shift where man and machine will merge (very soon).
  • If you listen to Michel Bauwens and the P2P people, we will collaborate globally on an unprecedented scale, in networked living arrangements, which transcend organisations, governance and financial models as we know them today.

I listen to all these people. Who do you listen to?

I guess that at the end of the day these four archetypal scenarios are all about hope. To give us hope and something to live for.

Four Scenarios for Humanity Based on Rolling Stones Guitarist Keith Richards’ Life

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is known as a rock’n’roll survivor. Unlike mythologized stars like Janis, Jimi, Jim, Kurt and Amy, who all died young, Keith is still with us. And not only that: He’s had an amazingly eventful and crazy life with several near-death experiences. Over the years, sensationalist music journalists, fans and other close observers have speculated on his self-destruction many times, but surprisingly Keith is still with us. With us on the global stages, touring the world with an old Fender Telecaster and a cheeky grin on his lips.

Sometimes I think of our planet as being a bit like Keith. A survivor that has been through remarkable things: Ice ages, supervolcano eruptions, asteroid impacts and so on. And now it seems like good old Earth is up for another big challenge: The Anthropocene – this era where the clever, fast, ruthless organisms called humans geo-engineer and hack their way into the planet.

So what are some plausible scenarios for us humans on this planet? Well, here are four of them based on some of the eras in the Keith Richards’ life:


1. Mischievous Lad

Keith 1965 (CC BY-SA 2.0 – Kevin Delaney)

The Rolling Stones formed in London in 1962. In the swinging 60s London, there was a naive belief that rhythm & blues and rock & roll could change the world. And it actually did. Keith and his merry band of musicians built on the old American rhythm and blues tradition, and turned it into something of their own. Together with other young mischievous lads like The Beatles and The Who they took the world by storm and global domination ensued.

But long West End nights at places like The Marquee Club were often followed by early morning flights to gigs in other countries. This lifestyle required stimulation beyond natural and legal highs. Amphetamines and other drugs were needed to keep playing and partying.


In the Mischievous Lad future we’ll all keep on playing the game. We’ll keep on churning out hit songs, like there is no tomorrow. We’ll go on never-ending global tours because the show must go on. Just as Keith and his fellow 60s musician friends were fuelled by “uppers”, the planetary citizens in this future will be fuelled by various drugs and medications to keep us going.


2. Elegantly Wasted

Keith 1972 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Dina Regine)

In the late 60s and early 70s Keith Richards turned into an enigmatic, globetrotting counter-culture hero. Like other elegantly wasted aristocrats, successful artists and rich debauched heirs, The Rolling Stones set up camp on the French Riviera for the summer. In 1971, Keith reigned like a king in the Stones’ rented villa at Villefranche-sûr-Mer outside of Nice. Here, surrounded by his friends, he waterskied and entertained princes, writers and mannequins by day, drank bourbon and recorded incredible music by night. He could do whatever he wanted to do. However, the British tax authorities, various drug dealers, former girlfriends and others were on his back.


In the Elegantly Wasted future we will have lots of fun, since we will do what we like to do. We won’t have any money or material wealth but we will have lots of friends. The space we inhabit will look very different, where most things are derelict and overgrown with plants and scattered with strange technological gadgets. Essential societal institutions like hospitals and fire departments will still function. Many of us will die on the way to this future but those who survive will thrive.

3. Heroin Casualty

Keith 1982 (CC BY-SA 3.0, Gorupdebesanez)

The elegantly wasted Keith sunk deeper down during the 70s, and in the 80s many counted him out as his severe heroin habit got in the way of his creativity and life. He was rumoured to have replaced all his blood at a special clinic in Switzerland because it was so toxic and could kill him from within (!) He was emaciated, dark and gloomy – a ghostly shell of his former gloriously, elegantly wasted self. The cheeky grin was gone.


Too much excess, wild weather and apocalyptic events make way for the Heroin Casualty future – a scenario, which feels like sleeping on a damp mattress in a dark and gloomy basement. The Heroin Casualty future is a bit like those dystopian zombie futures we’ve seen in the movies, but where the narrator has a constant flu with accompanying phlegmy cough. Our vital infrastructures have collapsed. All is dark and the streets are full of lethal threats and diseases. The global society in the Heroin Casualty scenario is all but resilient, as all systems are out and only the faintest of reserves remain. A virus outbreak could end all life.


4. Captain Jack Sparrow’s Dad

Keith 2008 (CC BY 3.0, Siebbi)


Keith survived the cold, lethal period. And from the 90s and onwards he’s taken on a crazy, colourful and unpredictable character: The role as Captain Jack Sparrow’s dad in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Johnny Depp, who plays the charismatic captain, is friends with Keith, and when asked if he wanted to star in the sequels, Richards said yes. He had always considered himself a pirate, so why not?

Captain Jack Sparrow’s dad was once the most feared pirate in the world, so is highly respected and feared by all the pirates in the Brethren Court. He was once the Pirate Lord of Madagascar but later resigned to become the Keeper of the Pirate Code, the Pirata Codex, which he keeps with him at Shipwreck Cove.


The Captain Jack Sparrow’s Dad future is similar to the Pirate future, which is propagated by many thinkers and hackers around the world today. A global, transparent future based on direct democracy, where all is open and free, as pioneered by The Pirate Bay and various European pirate parties.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s dad is however different from the regular Pirate future. This future is older, wiser but slightly erratic and nutty. The Captain Jack Sparrow’s dad future has been to hell and back, but on the way it went through a fundamental paradigm shift. It is something of a wise fool with its youthful cheeky grin intact, but with strange beads and braids in the hair.


Keith Richards is still alive and a fifth scenario for the future of humanity will be added to this list when we have identified it. Or as Keith himself puts it:

“I don’t want to see my old friend Lucifer just yet. He’s the guy I’m gonna see, isn’t it? I’m not going to the Other Place, let’s face it.”



With apologies to Jim Dator for (ab)using his four Alternative Futures archetypes.