With The World In Such A Mess. It’s Time To Rethink, Reimagine And Preparing For A Reset.
by Idris Mootee
No question many of us are upset, feeling restless and wondering how we have created such a big mess of this world. Countries are going bankrupt with Spain on the border of joining Greece. Countries’ (including UK and US) skyrocketing debt and deficits. Politicians have absolutely no clue of how to deal with them and leave them to their grandchildren. US immigration reform is not happening and is forcing states like Arizona to take drastic measures. We seem to have and continue to produce a generation of elected politicians who either don’t know what is right and wrong; or who simply don’t have the intellectual ability to understand or solve these complex problems. They all promise the same thing – that they will do better than the other person and reform this or that. But as we see, they can’t and won’t. Hope is not a strategy.
And we are seeing no end to the two wars or do we have a plan to deal with the two mad men (in North Korea and in Iran). Climate change and men made disasters keep happening and financial reform is no where in sight, we can see a lot of talk and no action. And healthcare. Many wonder if there is anything we can do about this at all?
For many multi-national corporations, if you are making tons of money out of what you’re doing today, why bother to create something new or change? For the once big mighty corporations, when you were making so much money out of oil, healthcare, pharma, financial services, why take any risks?
Can technology save us? We hope that advances in science and technology will keep improving our lives in the years ahead, but I don’t think they can solve the problems that we have. But let’s not rely on future technologies; I think we have enough technologies around us to experiment with.
Here’s an example: A bunch of MIT Media Lab’s Next Billion Network folks worked in a project called “Can 4 Billion Cellphones Change the World for the Better?” The idea is to find new ways to harness the increasingly ubiquitous cellphone to help people in developing countries. They have ambition; their question is “can you make a cellphone change the world?”
Other cellphone applications for people in low-income countries are being developed by fellows at MIT’s Legatum Center, whose director Iqbal Quadir was the founder of Bangladesh’s GrameenPhone, a company that by introducing a low-cost cellphone service to Bangladesh starting in 1997 provided an early example of the power of mobile technologies to advance prosperity in the developing world.
One idea is to improve the delivery of health care in rural areas. Patients in a remote village have to spend a whole day or more traveling to the nearest clinic in order to be tested, diagnosed and receive treatment or a prescription drug for their health problems. But a new open-source software system developed by students who formed a nonprofit company called Moca could provide a faster way. I think this concept is not only for the developing world, it is a great way to lower our healthcare cost and improve quality too.
Nowadays we are all dealing with the hangover from the 60’s. Fifty years ago the concerns of design revolved around the improvement or performance of services and products, while today it is more about design solutions that challenge people to rethink our world, our environment.
We don’t even need to look into the future, just look around us, there are plenty of technologies that allow us to change the world. We just need more design thinking and imagination. Yes, we can use a few more smart people.
Idris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.