Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Q27- Combining Megatrends #1 and #2: the Next Societal Innovations?

May 18, 2009

I introduced trans-societal Megatrend #1 in an earlier blog (“Q14- Naming Trans-Societal Megatrend #1: towards Yin?”). I summarized Megatrend #1 (see blog “KM and trans-societal megatrend #1”) as:


Trans-societal Megatrend #2 (introduced in blog Q26- Information: another Force for Democratization) can be summarized as:

Megatrend #2

If we combine these two megatrends and again use Ken Wilber’s framework, we have a new way of characterizing major societal innovations and anticipating where the next major societal innovations would be emerging:

Combining 2 megatrends

Do you agree with the following observations?

  1. The combined trend is towards the lower left or indigo-colored Quadrant 4 in the figure above. Using simplistic language, the trend is towards the democratization of religions (Quadrant 1 to 4) and the spiritualization of democracy, free markets and science (Quadrant 3 to 4).
  2. There is a mega-tension between Quadrants 1 and 3 which can be seen in the conflict between Western democratic values versus Islamic fundamentalism and theocracy (which underlies the events in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorist attacks in Europe and North America, and tension between European cultures and cultures of Muslim immigrants in Europe), the conflict between scientific empiricism and religious faith (seen in Matthew Fox’s creation spirituality versus traditional Catholic doctrines, Darwinian evolution versus creationism from Genesis), and the conflict between laissez faire capitalism and various economic models that emphasize the humanistic, psychological and spiritual dimensions (such as “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” by Schumacher, Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s “Gross National Happiness”).
  3. Regressive forces are represented by those groups which aim to maintain or go back to communism, dictatorship, theocracy, monopolistic control of national economies, etc.
  4. New practices are emerging in Quadrant 4, which I call “indigo practices.” I will write about this in another blog. The interactive practice in double-loop learning that I am proposing in the last blog (An Invitation to Interactive Practice of Double-Loop Learning) is an indigo practice.
  5. A most interesting convergence between Quadrants 1 and 3 is happening between Tibetan Buddhism and modern science: the Mind and Life Institute. Tibetan Buddhism comes from centuries of learning, experiential studies and applying consensual corroboration in the inner worlds; while modern sciences comes from centuries of learning, empirical studies and applying consensual corroboration in the outer worlds.

interesting convergence

I introduced the ideas in this blog in an earlier paper on “Information Technology and Security in the 21st Century” which I read at the Asia-Pacific Security Forum Conference in Taipei, Taiwan in December 1999.

Please tell us what you think about these.

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More Power to Glocals!

April 23, 2009

Corrupt leaders, terrorists, nationalistic actions of superpowers and “gnomes in Zurich and other financial centres” (a term coined in 1956 by former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson) share something in common. The reach of their influence and power far exceeds the extent of their beneficiary group:

Scope of power > Scope of benefit

“Scope” can mean geographic or demographic scope. Using the language of extended benefit-cost analysis, they generate private benefits for themselves and their small group at the expense of inflicting social costs on the larger public.

In Q23 on “Know-How without Willing-To” I wrote about organizational energy and showed that

Know-How X Willing-to = Effective Action.

which is a reformulation of

Capabilities X Intentions = Potential Action

in “Cutting the (Complex) Gordian Knot.”

If we add the geographic or demographic dimension to the above formulae, we see that the geographic reach or the public scope of an actor’s capabilities is different from that of his intentions. For example, the scope of interest of a corrupt president includes only himself and his immediate family, while the scope of his power and influence is the entire government bureaucracy and the nation. A nationalistic superpower pursues only its national interests, yet its power is global. The “gnomes in Zurich” or “gnomes in Wall Street” are profit-seeking actors working for their personal or corporate interests, yet the impact of their actions is global.

Narrow interests drive their global actions.

At the opposite end is glocality (from “global” and “locality”), a new word that has gained currency among development and civil society sectors, and among expat professionals who frequently move around the globe. The word captures the essence of the injunction: “Think globally, act locally.” A glocal person is one whose area of power and influence is confined only to her immediate small locality, yet her local actions are informed from her global perspectives and interests. Glocals are opposite to corrupt leaders, terrorists, nationalistic superpowers and “gnomes in Zurich and other financial centres.”

Global interests drive their local actions.


The dysfunctional situation where geographic or public scope of power and influence of an actor exceeds the scope of his perspectives, interests or intended beneficiaries, is met across a wide variety of circumstances:

  • a virus creator introducing his creation into the Internet,
  • a corrupt public official using his powers for his own or his family’s benefit,
  • a terrorist motivated by a particularistic ideology,
  • a factory discharging wastes in a nearby stream,
  • a psychotic with a gun in a large crowd,
  • a nationalistic action of a superpower,
  • a resource cartel such as OPEC,
  • a swimmer who secretly pees in a swimming pool with many swimmers
  • a conspiratorial group of shadowy foreign exchange traders with controlling market share in a country,
  • a government-sanctioned monopoly
  • a protectionist domestic manufacturer bribing a government official to keep tariff levels high against competing foreign products,
  • pirates operating near Somalia,
  • a smoker-turned arsonist who throws his cigarette butt and starts a forest fire.

I introduced the above concepts in a paper on “Relevance of Values in the Management of Corruption” which I read at the Conference on Integrity in Governance in Asia, Bangkok, Thailand, June 1998 and in another paper on “Information Technology and Security in the 21st Century” at the Asia-Pacific Security Forum Conference in Taipei, Taiwan in December 1999.

Counter-glocal persons spend their lifetimes “climbing the ladder” whether in business or in politics, but as their power and influence expands, their interests remain narrow. They learn to become masters in manipulating the external world around them. They seek Power of the First and Second Kind (see blog posts Q9 and Q10). The world becomes a riskier and poorer world as counter-glocals attain greater power.

To become a glocal person, you do not have to travel around the globe or get appointed to a high position. All you need to do is stay where you are, expand your perspectives and take the interests of Planet Earth as your own, and express these in whatever work you are doing now. Glocals are masters in broadening their own internal world of perspectives, motives and aspirations. They practice Power of the Third Kind. The world becomes a safer and happier world as more glocals attain greater power.

May their tribe increase!

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Q9- An Exercise in Team Learning: Some/the(?) Root Causes of September 11

January 22, 2009

Last October 15, 2001 I wrote in my weekly KM column for BusinessWorld, the leading business newspaper in the Philippines, the following piece. I reproduce it verbatim below:

Japanese folklore says there are three kinds of power, symbolized by the sword, the diamond and the mirror. The sword symbolizes force: physical, military or political force. The diamond symbolizes wealth or resources. The mirror symbolizes the most powerful of the three.

I demonstrated the process of team learning before high school teachers of La Salle Greenhills. As part of their Social Science Week, they invited a speaker each day to talk about various aspects of the September 11 Event.

I talked about implications for education. No, I did not really give a talk or lecture. More accurately, we – teachers and I – explored the issue: what can we learn from the event? More precisely, what are the root-causes of the event?

I first explained the two basic phases: inquiry followed by decision. I stressed the importance of not mixing up the two modes, which means every participant must watch his or her thoughts and statements and constantly check what mode they are in. Mixing the two is unproductive. We cannot jump into judgments too soon or before we have collected and examined as much facts, possibilities and options as the group can collectively muster.

Said Fr. Anthony de Mello, in his book “Awareness: the Perils and Opportunities of Reality” : “…what you judge you cannot understand…if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

Suspending judgment is essential in the inquiry phase, but in the decision phase consensual judgment – if it can be reached – is the essential prelude to team action.

I performed two roles: as resource person (offering content) and as facilitator (guiding group process). It provided a good opportunity for me to demonstrate conscious role-changing as I go through the physical motion of “switching hats” before I say something in another role.

The inquiry phase proceeded very smoothly from individual to group focus. This is the result of choosing an issue that involves actors external to the group. In team learning, the issue often involves the group members themselves as actors, and thus personal issues and defenses can and often block collaborative inquiry. The most common problem in this group was the unconscious shift to personal judgments during the inquiry phase – something I point out immediately to illustrate the point.

The other problems I saw were: making careless generalizations, cross checking facts, using labels that beg the issue or borders into judgment, and distinguishing symptoms from root cause.

As facilitator, I had to clarify what a speaker means in using a word or phrase, ask what is the premise behind a statement, or summarize the essential points of a speaker who tends to ramble. Most of the time after I made a facilitator intervention, I follow it up by briefly describing or naming my intervention – a heuristic tool to illustrate how a facilitator guides a group process.

The results of the group inquiry were as follows.

  • The US government’s actions, so far, seem to indicate that it is addressing only the symptoms;
  • US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has not been even-handed since the state of Israel was created by the United Nations half a century ago;
  • The US government does not seem to indicate that it can see, or fully see, the pain felt for decades by Muslims and Arabs who empathize with the predicament of the Palestinians and that this pain contributed to the behavior of the terrorists (a teacher preferred to use the term “so-called terrorists”);
  • The possibility that the US government will address the root causes at some later stage remains, or Americans will ask “What acts did we do in the last decades that contributed to the problem?”
  • The US government’s actions (“bully” was the label used by a teacher) belong to the same violence mindset as the terrorists’;
  • The bombing of Afghanistan increases the pain of the Muslim world, and may be exacerbating the problem;
  • Belief in violence sanctioned or justified by religion (or God) is dangerous for the overall security of the planet; and
  • It is likely that the terrorists’ choice of targets reflect their judgment of the two evils of America: military power and financial power.

On the last point, I briefly put on my “resource person hat” to say – heuristically again – that ascribing a judgment to an external actor is classified as an act of describing or estimating facts and, therefore, proper during the inquiry phase.

Finally, in the decision phase, we concluded that:

  • All parties should learn how to respect each other, no matter how different are their beliefs;
  • Reflecting on your own beliefs and mindsets is an important skill for teachers and for education; and
  • Reflective individuals are essential in learning organizations.

That brings us back to the third symbol, the mirror. According to the Japanese folk wisdom, the most powerful of the three is the power of self reflection and self knowledge. A man with the powers of the sword and diamond can be dangerous to others if he does not have the power of the third kind, the power of the mirror. The third power is not about winning. It is not about conquering someone else but yourself.

America is already the world superpower and a great financial power. We hope America will acquire more of the power of the third kind. On this may depend America’s moral leadership and our collective planetary fate as a secure and stable mosaic of civilizations.

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