David Sibbet | Sustainability
20
archive,category,category-sustainability,category-20,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode_grid_1300,footer_responsive_adv,hide_top_bar_on_mobile_header,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-10.0,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive

I sustain a keen interest in metaphors and plausible narratives about where we are headed as a society, and frankly, I am worried. I was rocked recently by a close reading of sociobiologist and futurist Rebecca Costa’s0-watchmansrattle 2012 best seller, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse. (She has a new book, also a best seller, called On the Verge, which I haven’t read.) Costa has a long history in Silicon Valley and a polymath’s appetite for large-scale thinking. My reading, in the context of seeing our country spiraling into policy chaos, is that her 2012 message is even more relevant in 2018.

Her “new theory” is that civilizations collapse when complexity outstrips human’s cognitive ability to grasp what is going on. More interestingly, she identifies the symptoms that suggest collapse is beginning. I’m not wanting to believe we are collapsing, as I am much more interested in growth and development and what our field of process consulting and visual practice can do in response. Yet her argument is persuasive.

Let me summarize what she is talking about. Drawing from both evolutionary biology and new findings in neuroscience, Costa describes in detail how the Mayans, Romans, Germans and others expanded and collapsed. Collapse begins with gridlock—simply too many conflicting forces and events compounding—and continues with the substitution of belief for facts.

In most civilizations, Costa observes, there is a balance between untethered beliefs and scientifically or experientially validated knowledge. We use beliefs to deal with the ineffable and non-objective, and we have (at least for the last many hundreds of years) looked to science for help with being objective, particularly regarding the physical world. Yet when complexity begins to overwhelm people’s cognitive abilities, beliefs take over and attention to facts disappears.

For the Mayans facing severe drought, their engineering of cisterns and other water strategies gave way to human sacrifice. For the Germans after World War I, the complexity of their post-war fractured economy gave way to fascism and blame and World War II.  Sound familiar?Read more…

 

SteinPicasso - What's Our Edge? A New Year's QuestionThe time between Christmas and New Year’s always beckons me to think about what is emerging in my life. The ceremonies during the holidays are clues – which decorations call for attention? What kinds of rearrangements in my desktops and altars mirror what I am working on? How do my dreams pull in themes? Where do I find myself moving in conversations with colleagues?

Read more…

I’m on my way to Germany with Gisela Wendling, The Grove’s Director of Global Learning, to conduct a new kind of workshop for me and The Grove. Called a Visual Interventions LAB, it is moving into the space long held by the National Training LABS that have been so instrumental in developing the professional field of organizational development.

A LAB isn’t a training in skill and content, but a deep inquiry and exploration, where the group process and its knowledge is the primary content. We came up with some big questions that will drive our inquiry.
Images - Stepping Up to Big Questions

 

Read more…

FutureTalkGraphicsRecently I met Mei Lin Fung, producer of Future Talk, a monthly TV show produced in Silicon Valley. She works visually herself and when she heard about Visual Meetings she invited me to be on her show.

We produced a half-hour session on visual facilitation and its application to complex problems in government. This was a three-camera, eight-person, all-volunteer crew, producing live and unedited from Palo Alto’s Community Media center. I talked about my work with visual meetings, showing some examples; then I demonstrated by taking notes on my IBM Thinkpad tablet when Mei Lin was talking.

Watch here – enjoy!