There are over 2 billion people on this planet living on less than $1 a day. Another 2 billion average just a bit over $2 a day. And the gap between rich and poor is only getting bigger. Natural resources are deteriorating an alarming rate. We’re over-fishing our oceans to the point that experts predict the collapse of all fish and seafood populations by 2050.
Why do we have these problems? There a many reasons, some of them complex, but I believe that there is a fundamental issue underlying it all. We have become incredibly good at creating complex, vertical organizations that each do a part of the overall picture very well–organizations that produce food or goods, provide transportation or services, or sell solutions to problems. These organizations–usually corporations–have become very good at maximizing productivity to deliver high quality results. The issue is that their orientation is short term, and their perspective is focused on their little piece of the whole picture.
The basic nature of global issues, on the other hand, is long term and interconnected. No single organization–or even a nation as powerful as the U.S.–can ever hope to solve these problems alone. No single technology or process will solve them either. The one thing that I’m sure will be needed to solve these problems is collaboration. Collaboration is the process of people from various backgrounds working together to achieve a common goal. It’s not easy to do, nor does it happen automatically. It requires skill, intention, integrity, and resources to do well. Collaborative planning is a discipline in its own right, with skills, best practices, and a complex body of knowledge and aptitudes to master. What would the world be like if governments and corporations treated collaborative planning as a critically important skill for creating a better future?