THE BLOG

Austerity Will Not Get Us to the Future We Deserve, but Creative Entrepreneurial Expression Will

11/02/2013 13:53 GMT | Updated 09/04/2013 10:12 BST

Introduction: The impact of the financial crisis on Europe reports Bank of England Director Andrew Haldane is the equivalent of the devastation of a World War impacting possibly several generations to come. In the UK, our current government has set a target to reduce the debt of our nation in a single term of government - a process that has become known as austerity. In bringing our current government to power we acknowledged the debt, plus the pressing need to reduce it.

Yet, it has become clear that austerity alone cannot create a roadmap for a better future, in which we need organisations that can perform at a higher level for much lower input costs whether they are in the commercial or non-commercial sector. We face a real design challenge requiring creative entrepreneurial expression to either bring into existence entirely new forms of organisational capability or the transformation of our existing organisations that are relevant to the world we live in today. To sit on piles of cash, protect what is perceived, as the status quo, or selling our public sector to the highest bidder is quite simply not an option.

The challenge of living in a complex world: When faced with disruption that is and always complex few embrace that complexity, to recognize its patterns, and understand its core DNA, to listen deeply and think very hard about transformation - how to transform, and how to design for transformation. This is a challenging thing to do and few do it well, and increasingly more organisations are vicariously living in the groan zone as we transition from a linear world to a non-linear one - simple to complex.

The rise of the Human-OS: My challenge to organisations is that they need to reflect mindfully on the significant shifts in our society today, although new technologies are the tools for change - our research shows that this is a social revolution where in the face of institutional failure people are learning to get what they need from each other. So what do we as humanity need? We need, I would argue; greater opportunity, greater freedom, greater empowerment, a revitalized sense of justice, a world where mutualism and participatory cultures are the default setting, where openness is seen as resilience and diversity is understood as a good thing, where we have greater autonomy and that seeks a greater aesthetic in everything we do: beautiful buildings, civic spaces, organisational design, it is as easy to make something beautiful as it is to make it ugly.

This OS (operating system) is the key driver to the systems change we are witnessing. I see this Human-OS in the transformational change of all the examples cited in No Straight Lines: from agriculture, hospital design, and healthcare service design, educational programmes, the response to complex civic challenges, manufacturing, NGO's, the nature of finance, innovation and commerce itself. This OS is the story of why our networked world with its new Human OS is directing the shape of our post industrial future, which is why on the floors of our factories, in the waiting rooms of our hospitals, the classrooms of our schools, people are asking not what if? But how? How can we create a world designed around the wider needs of humanity, and that serves humanity in ways in which our industrial society no longer can?

Conclusion: Britain socially and culturally has been shaped by our responses to successive technologies, harnessing their potential to enable us to play a significant role on the worlds stage. This moment in time really does feel like a turning point in our collective approach to the organisation of the economy and society. If we want our towns and cities to hum along, if we want to educate our young to be truly part of the 21st Century, if we want to create jobs and meaningful work, create breakthrough science and pharma projects, a healthcare system that really works, if we want factories of the future that can create value globally then is time for us to be as great as our finest engineers, industrialists, innovators who sought ways of getting things done that were transformational for our society and our economy. A mindset of austerity will not get us to that place. It is time for us to use one of our greatest assets creative entrepreneurial expression and design for transformation.