If macro risks are interrelated and interdependent, how do we “join the dots”? How do these risks fit into the landscape or system of political economy? Understanding the political economy as a system reveals the often obscured connections and relationships between issues, events, institutions and people.
There are many reasons why few failed to anticipate the subprime crisis but broadly it is because of how we’ve been trained to think and our misplaced trust in “authority”. Too many people in positions of influence believed what they were told by a narrow coterie of experts, all of whom were incentivised to ignore what was really going on in the subprime market, while those who challenged the consensus were penalised and ignored. See The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
Both experts and those in authority add weight to misinformation and misdiagnosis by virtue of their status or position.
Groupthink abounds in the current political economy, often polarised between two opposing ideologies. Our current political economy is founded on competition and, in academia, on competing ideas. Issues are “argued” between two polarised standpoints: true/false, right/left, right/wrong etc.- binary thinking.
But the political economy is infinitely nuanced and often ambiguous, yet there is limited time or room for subtlety or ambiguity in academia and, as a result, even less when trying to assess global risks. Glaringly obvious contradictions and misrepresentations are lost within this cage of compartmentalised, binary groupthink.
So we need to move out of the comfort of our social and business circles to explore other perspectives. We must avoid being like the blind men of Indostan who tried, unsuccessfully, to describe an elephant while each “saw” (by touch) a different part of the beast. We need to listen to the “other” to comprehend the nature and effect of the political economy from their perspective before deciding we know how the world works and what macro risks we face. To gain a full understanding, we need to look beyond our usual sources of information.
Information volume and complexity
Another reason our perspectives are so narrow is that we can only absorb so much information, particularly when we attempt look beyond our usual sources.
No one mind can absorb, sift, analyse and synthesise sufficient information to get a grasp of part of the system, let alone the whole because there are numerous hidden influences and connections at work. To “see” the political economy and how macro risks are interconnected, we need multiple perspectives to begin to unravel the nature and workings of the political economy. The only way to cover sufficient ground to gain these perspectives is through self-organised, co-creative learning.
Conventional wisdom assumes large complex enterprises or projects cannot function without organisational hierarchy. Frederic Laloux’s research and book, Reinventing Organizations, demonstrate how large, complex tasks are accomplished through self-organisation.
Laloux demonstrates, with case studies, how self-organisation can work to manage large, highly complex tasks such as evaluating MacroRisk.
In order to understand the world, we need to absorb and share information and analysis from diverse sources, beyond institutions with a vested interest in preserving the status quo.
We need to look to unconventional sources, particularly those we may have come to distrust. We need to explore different perspectives to begin to understand MacroRisk. Diversity is key in co-creative learning – diversity of voices, diversity of worldviews and diversity of sources of information.
MacroRisk Connect is a programme to develop self-organising MacroRisk groups, operating within an ecosystem of information and analysis, to assess global and macro risks using the methodology of the free, open source CoCreative Learning Project.
CoCreative Learning is the natural alternative to competitive education practice and its power to accelerate learning and expand understanding has to be experienced to be believed.