I was rummaging around the web a few days ago, looking at different models of DAO – distributed autonomous organisations.
If you are unfamiliar with DAO’s they are one proposed solution using technology to coordinate people without a central authority. They live in the meme of Web 3.0, which includes blockchain and the Metaverse. Many people and enterprises are rushing to use a DAO to create a consensus based enterprise. They are considered a new model for a new world.
Unfortunately, the bright new shiny thing often neglects to broadly consider what is actually needed. How easily we overcomplicate a solution because of the lure of the new thing. And how often we fail to get the analogue human stuff sorted, really sorted, before we rush to impose a digital app, as I wrote here. The complexity of the human relational dynamic will not be squeezed into a digital world.
We know from natures principles that 100% consensus driven enterprise is primed for failure. A natural hierarchy is essential to provide some levels of polarity so that the enterprise can hold its shape. We need the positive to the negative charge. Too much positive and we get implosion, too much negative and we get explosion.
My investigation of DAO’s had led me to a particular model of DAO. It sounded great, the language and application seemed pretty Syntropic on the surface. I went, as I always do, to the about page to see the team behind this enterprise.
I saw a version of this image.
Can you guess my reaction and why?
The real reason why I lost immediate interest in this company was I knew the design thinking that was creating the company and its products and services would be incomplete.
I am an advocate for all diversity working together, not for the simple reason of equality and rights, rather as a reflection of our world, and an acknowledgement that if we want a world with a future that works for all, we need representation of all people in the design thinking. Gender, colour, physical ability, age.
Our current world has serious problems that need fast and elegant solutions. We need design thinking that reflects the world we want to see more of as integral to its thinking.
There is a quote that goes something like this… if you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same outcome.
If we want a world with a future we cannot use the same thinking that got us here.
We certainly cannot use the same models, maps and design thinking.
I have no doubt that each of the men creating this DAO for this company is brilliant, probably wholehearted, and likely committed to the work they are bringing to life. They probably see it as important work and they are likely to feel they are working for a better world.
What I know with confidence is that no matter how brilliant they are, these men are unable to create a tool or model or business that will work to create a world that works for everyone because they are missing the diversity required to contribute to, challenge and synergise the design solution.
Our current response to change does not need a cadre of mostly white men thinking they can make a difference. Surely in 2022 we are done with that?
Without the diversity we will get more of the same. Maybe with more bells and whistles. But same same. How could we even begin to expect different to result?
In 2022 no image of any company team should look like the above. It shows a complete failure to source and presence the voices of the others.
It means that the design thinking will not have anything but more of the same, despite the very best of intentions.
It is also for this reason that I am against, for the most part, same gendered schools. In Australia it is a big thing for elites and aspiring elites to send their children to single sex schools. (The issues these schools are now having with trans kids has only just begun.) When education is about giving our young people the skills to navigate adult life, to deal with difference, other humans, genders, emotions, and desires, to wall off one gender from another is to begin to propagate the very world of separation we see evidence of all around us. There are some small exceptions to this, however, depending on other contexts such as neuro-diversity.
While I understand that in a world that has historically marginalised women, where we do need to create funding to focus on women, and events to highlight women’s achievements simply to begin to balance the extreme historical imbalance, all of these impulses should only be temporary. They should function only for the time needed to get us from the place we are and have been throughout human history, to a place where the cultural norm is NOT gender, race or colour bias.
A world that works for everyone is one where the brilliance of all – everyone – is seen without bias.
We need to learn to get on with each other, to respect each other, to work well together, to honour differences. To break the thousands of years of cultural bias.
We need to recognise that the brilliant technology we are creating needs to have diverse input. To recognise that when we do this, when we invite diversity to the table, the result will be better for the team, better for the world, better for our future.
Spending all of our time and days in a monoculture – of gender, colour, ethnicity, age, education, language, political affiliation and beliefs – will not create a world that works for everyone.
To change this type of monoculture takes several ingredients.
First we have to recognise the monoculture we live in. It has for so long i been accepted as the air we breathe.
Once recognised, we then might ask how we get out of this bubble. When we see the bubble and its enormous limitations on our own perspective, creativity, generativity, our ability to make sense of things and to create artefacts that support a better world, we must burst the bubble.
This image today attributed to Banksy says so much.
We have to stop agreeing to a world where almost all men are making the big decisions, almost all men are on the executive, board, leadership team, in the political party room.
This monoculture, which never thrives in nature, is killing us all, including men, and especially including those who are profiting from being leaders in the monoculture.
It is the voice of diversity, the voice of difference, the voice that smacks us in the face with the whiplash of an idea we would never have had because we could not have it because it is not in our ecology to have it…
This is what progresses the world. Not more of the same.
Dear men, please try harder. It should not be about quotas. It should be about actively looking for, inviting, seeing, witnessing, hearing difference.
Quotas, like charities and women’s only funding, are only needed because of our failure to design systems, structures, enterprises and ideas that serve all people to thrive. In other words, these are the after effect of failed systems, broken culture and ridiculous values like profit at all costs.
For most of my life I have worked with men. Wonderful, thoughtful, integrous, kind, able-to-be vulnerable-and-strong men. Men who stand side by side with strong women knowing that we are better when we work together.
Similarly, an all women’s team with the purpose to make significant changes in the world and for the future would be advised to model diversity as well.
Men and women, we can all do better. It is past time.