How does it fail?

Creating new enterprise to respond to big complex problems is a noble idea fraught with danger.

Many of our complex problems cannot be rushed into, for many reasons, including that they sit in the middle of legal codes and government regulations that limit optionality. These limits are not always bad, as they sometimes have been created to prevent the rogue actor.

However in many instances the constraints are the very cause of the major problem we seek to solve for. For example, the increasing divide between those with power and wealth and those without completely rely on the current legal codes and many government policies that seek to subsidise the rich while taxing the middle class and poor. The system itself is creating the problems and the systems are deeply entrenched and in the hands of those who call the shots.

Many of our human critical issues are now global. Climate, pandemics, financialisation, monopoly, corporate power beyond state borders, for example.

To sit in the problem solution space requires a level of thinking, wisdom and inquiry that few people have either the patience or capacity for.

If we are going to rush to solution mode without considering the whole and the long term consequences then we might also consider creating a ‘Red Team.’ A purposefully created team of people with the remit to challenge every assumption, asking several questions with rigour, all the way up and down.

“How does it fail?” 

“Where does it externalise harm?” 

“How might it trigger an arms race (Including weapons, cyber attack, data accumulation against agreement) for those who may not like our solution?” 

“What might the world look like in 100 years because of this solution?”

The startup culture says go hard and break things. There is a time for this. But the time is not at the front end. 

The time is after these questions have been asked with the fullest intention of having the idea fail before it gets out the gate. Only if it passes the rigour of these questions do we begin.

Photo taken April 14th 2018

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