Re-Imagining Value

The recent scandal by the minions of Murdoch had me thinking about the value of honesty and if in fact, that was even a value to media moguls. We certainly know it was not important to the banking system, which still honest dutiful citizens are paying the price of. But now in the midst of seeing another industry fall fray to the question of honest work, more and more it seems a pervasive distrust in all of the bigger systems that run our world is warranted. Only now when Murdoch’s $12 billion takeover of British Sky Broadcasting is threatened do we see people act.

The NYTimes described New Corp as “once seen as such a powerful force that politicians and police officers walked in fear of it, fearing its disclosures and courting its support.” Frightening! It’s no surprise that this is the case with much of the corporations that dictate our economic system. Should any system be designed in such a way that civil leaders out of fear, fail to mitigate the greed and vanity of a few? The problem stems from systems put into place based on the assumptions (not truth) that: limitless growth is praise-worthy, consequences do not exist, and business leaders are immortal. It should not take rocket science to figure out that in an ever-changing world of complexity, effectiveness and efficiency are going to take more than relying on assumptions from a bygone era.

I do not think all of the onus should fall onto Design to “change the world!”, but I certainly think that specific methodologies can be learned from Design that can help to re-shape and reverse the fallacies of larger systems dependent on big-business industries. ‘Design thinking’ might be thought of as a sort of tactic for a bottom-up approach to demanding the creation of new-types of value, perhaps even honesty. Can we not think of honesty as a preferred mode of acting and use tools such as ‘prototyping’ to try to think of systems that act in this very way? Can we, as John Thackara points to, push the thousands of grassroots projects around the world to create a restorative economy? It is happening on the micro- level, but I wonder what type of systems thinking will be needed to push these initiatives to the macro-level. We need interventions on all levels of a system. No paradigm shift can occur from a single source. With all of the effort from the various bottom-up projects across the world, consultancies that are charmed by the idea of ‘design thinking’ could put it to use by not making better business for their clients, but better our world. Transformation is going to take a lot of re-imagining where we place value; and values change systems.

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