The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Questionable performance

As the world transforms itself, it also transforms the way we are organizing ourselves. But actually, it isn’t the world that is transforming itself. It is us who are making more complexity accessible to us. And in doing so, we are spreading complexity into our organizations as well as into the problems our future is made of.

It’s a process we can’t stop. It’s not even a situation solely linked to capitalism or democracies. It is based on the desire to live a life worth living.

Countries that boomed in the last 60 or 70 years did so to reach their goal of being a contributing partner to the world economy and a member of the world community. While they always have been both, the dynamics they were caught in, told them something different.

Many decided to copy the models they have been subject to or have been seeing in our countries. They saw wealth and decided to get it for themselves too.

However, in doing so they’ve become our teachers. They show us what our way of life has become and where we’ve come from. Nature adds to this by reminding us on a global scale that seeking to dominate something that doesn’t want to be dominated, may not be the best of all solutions.

The floods we’ve seen in Germany happened just as well in China. But in contrast to Germany, the questions asked are addressing climate change and the urban development needed to deal with upcoming nature catastrophes. The shift in policy happening in China may very well lead to a change happening in practice too, some of it has become visible in the urban development. The change discussed is one aiming to maintain harmony between and nature while pursuing a sustainable development of their way of living. China might thus also teach us how to pivot to address our future.

However, not all the countries that set out to reach higher income levels will be able to teach us that lesson. Others are showing us that they might be on track to exchange one type of poverty against another. It happens for example by becoming dependent on the global economy. This is what is happening to those countries that seek to reach a different income level by establishing an industry producing commodities. It is the case for 13% of the so-called developed countries and 64% of the developing countries, putting these countries at the mercy of international market prices. The vulnerabilities that this entails has a direct impact on how these countries can balance social consequences within their country and the use of their natural resources.

This might be a very fast overview of what is happening and my point isn’t to judge what the different countries are seeking to achieve. What is interesting to me, is how the template of performance aiming towards generating income is one that is impacting us at a global level as well as at a local level.

This type of performance is based on competition and winning against the others. Shifting to a performance model based on creating value almost automatically involves a sustainable component. It focuses performance on progress and contribution and thus includes a community aspect.

The less developed a community is, the more it tends to pay attention to all its members making sure that none will be abandoned. All of them finding a way to contribute. They put belonging forward. What the development of the less developed countries showed is how communities dissolve through urbanization or migration. It is a move allowing individuals to grow their income while accepting a tie generating a greater sense of dependence. It is a result of being in a community with less connection and less regard for belonging. That’s not what they set out to do.


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