When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for individuals to dissolve the institutional bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all individuals are created equal and are endowed with the right to be able to achieve as much of their potential as possible. History, despite periodic setbacks, has been marked by a rapidly accelerating trend towards providing individuals and communities with more and more opportunity to achieve that potential.
We find ourselves now at a crossroads in history. The institutions – commercial, educational, political and civic - that we created in an earlier era in an effort to expand our potential have now become increasingly significant barriers to progress. It is not surprising that our trust in these institutions is plummeting around the world. We see so much opportunity and yet the institutions that are supposed to be helping us are increasingly standing in our way.
In response to this impasse, we are coming together around the world to build a new set of institutional platforms that will help to establish our independence from the institutions of the past. These new institutions bear little resemblance to the institutions they are designed to replace, and they are extraordinarily diverse, but they share a set of common characteristics:
- They seek to draw out of each of us more of our true potential
- They actively seek to help us connect with our passion and view passion as a key to unlocking increasing opportunity, rather than viewing it with suspicion as something that is unpredictable and resists “getting with the program”
- They seek to connect us in richer and more diverse ways with others – both inside and outside the institution - who can help us to pursue our passion and to achieve more of our potential
- They embrace diversity in all of its manifestations and create the conditions for productive friction by challenging us with aggressive performance goals so that this diversity can lead to more creative outcomes
- They nurture the feminine archetype that resides in all of us and encourage us to shed the masculine archetype that has driven our institutions to date
- They create environments where we can be vulnerable and focus on important questions, rather than pretending to always have the right answers
- They encourage us individually and collectively to experiment, tinker and innovate in coming up with new, innovative approaches to the problems and opportunities we see ahead
- They find ways to manage risk so that the consequences of failure are contained, thereby encouraging us to experiment with new and better approaches
- They encourage us to create – and reward these creations with social capital that becomes more and more meaningful relative to financial capital
- They focus on building reputation mechanisms that both recognize creative achievements and contributions and provide a way for others who share our interests to more effectively find and connect with us
- They adopt modular and loosely coupled approaches to organizing activity to provide the maximum space for creativity and innovation in all parts of the institution
- They decentralize and federate decision-making so that we each have much more ability to shape our local institutional environments
- They focus explicitly and aggressively on building and participating in ever expanding ecosystems of institutions and individuals that can help to leverage their own resources and help everyone to learn faster by working together
Bottom line, these institutions are designed around individuals - to help the people within them and around them to flourish. This stands in sharp contrast to our existing institutions that are designed around standardized tasks and that demand we conform to the institutional “boxes” that have been assigned to us.
We have no desire to confront existing institutions head on. We have no desire to engage in battle unless existing institutions seek to undermine or destroy the new institutional platforms that we are building. We prefer instead to focus on building parallel institutions on the edge of existing institutions and strengthening them to the point where our tired, old institutions will have no choice but to retreat into the dustbin of history.
But, just to be clear, we are declaring our independence from existing institutions. We have too much to lose if we remain prisoners of the outdated institutions that surround us.