Episode #133 Finding the adjacent possible: routes to political and social transformation with Dave Snowden of The Cynefin Company
There was a (brief) moment when Dave Snowden was going to be a Jesuit priest. Instead, he became one of the world’s foremost thinkers, developers and evolutionaries in the field of change creation, complexity science and sense-making.
He is the creator of the Cynefin Framework, and originated the design of SenseMaker®, the world’s first distributed ethnography tool. He is the lead author of Managing complexity (and chaos) in times of crisis: A field guide for decision makers, a shared effort between the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, and the Cynefin Centre.
Dave divides his time between two roles: founder Chief Scientific Officer of The Cynefin Company and the founder and Director of the Cynefin Centre. His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy and organisational decision-making. He has pioneered a science-based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience, and complex adaptive systems theory. By using natural science as a constraint on the understanding of social systems this avoids many of the issues associated with inductive or case-based approaches to research.
This episode ranges widely across the path of his life and his ideas, aiming always at the core question of our time: how do we create the best conditions for a generative future we’d be proud to leave to future generations? Dave is engaged in large-scale projects with, for instance, the NHS, and world governments to work out how to gather real information from people in ways that work and that can lead to generative outcomes. We explore ways to change the substrate of our culture, not by jamming new technology into the toxic niches of Facebook and Twitter, but by evolving new ways of engaging with each other that allow us to find the ‘adjacent possible’ – the next best thing that we can do in any situation.
If you want to connect more with the work that the Cynefin Company does, or to listen to aspects of Dave’s work in more detail, please follow the links below.
Manda: Our guest this week is someone who has devoted his entire life to the leading edge of this question. Dave Snowden is the chief scientific officer of the Cynefin company and the founder and director of the Cynefin Centre. Cynefin is a Welsh word that means habitat. It also means ‘acquainted with’. It means the ground that we grow out of and that shapes who we are. And while that describes the underpinning and the groundswell of what Cynefin is about, it is such a leading edge company and a leading edge concept that it’s far harder to pin down. Dave’s work is international. He talks with governments and huge companies and politicians around the world. He works with the NHS. He works across and between and through all of the layers of decision making in our culture. And he’s looking at complexity; what it is, how it works, and how we can help people to change in ways that are generative.
Manda: He has pioneered a science based approach to organisations, that draws on anthropology and neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory and Catholic philosophy and a lot of really different concepts brought together in a framework that makes complete sense. In the podcast, we don’t go over that, because it’s already there in his TEDTalk and the conversation that comes after it, both of which I will put in the show notes. And if you find what he says compelling, and I hope that you do, then definitely go back and have a listen to those. Because what he’s doing is actually working out the logistics of how we can help people to change. That isn’t just us telling them that if they really understood the nature of climate change, then they need to be more communitarian. Which we might know, but that doesn’t actually make it happen. And what Dave has done, he and his group, is work out how to make it happen and then test it in real time on large numbers of people. So the podcast ranges far and wide and deep and broad, and there were so many places where I could see an entire podcast arising down one particular arm. I could spend the next month listening to Dave Snowden talk, and we probably wouldn’t cross the same paths twice.
Manda: So we’ve endeavoured to collate it into something that makes sense if you haven’t yet listened to his TEDx talk and the conversation that followed it. I think this is the biggest step on the way to finding the answers that we need that I have found. So people of the podcast, please welcome Dave Snowden and all that he brings to the conversation.
Manda: So Dave Snowden, amazing intellect and polymath, welcome to the Accidental Gods podcast. It feels a long time since we set this up, and I imagine your world has moved on a little bit since I talked to you in November. So as we explore ideas, where I really want us to be heading towards is concepts of political realignment and how we can find a political agreement amongst us that is fit for purpose. Before we get there, I think it would be useful for everybody listening who may well not know you, to have a little bit of a sense of situating you in the world. So my understanding is that you grew up in Wales and that you intended early on to be a Jesuit priest. Talk us through a little bit of that and then how you got from there to here; in the edited highlights, if that’s possible.
Dave: You know, we had a sort of fairly fierce upbringing. My mother was the first of a generation to go to university, as was my father. So one day his father, who was a farmer, got a bad vet’s bill. So he marched down to the school and demanded which of his children was bright enough to become a vet. And so Dad was unapprenticed as a carpenter and sent to Glasgow Veterinary College. So that was one side of the family. So I brought up believing Glasgow is infinitely superior to Edinburgh and all subsequent experiences validated that presumption. My mother was born in an impoverished working class area in Cardiff and fought her way outside through a scholarship, and actually went to Germany to study German in the late 1940s, early fifties. Which meant she had to wear a passport around the neck so she wouldn’t get raped by British and American soldiers. And what came back from that is ‘A’ a fierce love of opera. But also this fundamental belief education and reading everything and being prepared to have an argument was key. And most of my childhood is having arguments around the kitchen table. It was a family game. Somebody puts up an idea, everybody else tries to tear it down. And we sometimes forgot to tell strangers that was how we played it. So I think that that was an environment and it was a rationalist household in that sense. Mum was an organiser for the Labour Party, so I was running political errands at the age of ten or 11 and I’ll probably come back to that one later. And then, you know, sixth form got involved with a whole bunch of stuff, actually went through a conversion experience, ended up as a Catholic at university. And so the Jesuit thing was a logical extension, but I sort of failed the test of obedience quite early on in that cycle, alright. It took the Jesuits seven months. It took IBM seven years. But you can tell who’s been around for longer, right.
Manda: To come to the same conclusion.
Dave: Well, it was you know, I had a degree in philosophy. I gone up to read philosophy and physics. And so all of that was sort of coming together. And I was very active in the World Student Christian Federation, which was the political wing of the World Council of Churches. There was the evangelical bit and there was a political bit, and I led the Catholic Marxist group. In fact, I staged a Catholic Marxist takeover of that. So this tells you what the seventies was like. And I got a chance of basically spending time in Australia, in Africa and Latin America on the PCR and related programs, and that was just irresistible. So that’s what I ended up doing and I’d say that was seminal. Came back from that, got a job in industry because you had to get a job, early days of computing, still really interested in people. And to tell a funny story on that, I was in HR because if you got a degree in philosophy and you’ve had three years of travelling the world, only HR and training find you have utility. And I thought the function of HR was to basically look after staff. So we had a new financial director and I marched in to tell him off for the way he was mistreating his staff. I say I learnt the error of my ways fairly fast and got called in the next day to see him and the HR director and they said I had two choices.
Dave: I could be fired for insubordination or I could go and work for him as his deputy. Because nobody had stood up to him before and he’d found out I was doing a financial qualification. So I was then on the track route to become a financial director. Yeah. And then we got into the early days of computing and everything else and we knew the company was going under. That’s the advantage of being in finance. So Bob went somewhere else, offered me a new role as deputy, and I thought, No, I’m going to start off on my own. So I got a job as a consultant, building decision support systems. And that was actually quite seminal because it was how do you use technology to support humans in decision making? And you started to understand reality then. So I was building the systems for Guinness plc at the same time that they were doing the illegal acquisitions, which got half of the people I was working for sent to prison or prosecuted. So that was a fascinating period. We did five consolidations in one year. And I was also building systems for the likes of Whitbread and Coca Cola on stock management, where human factors were a major issue. My speciality was how do we do something new and avoid the early adopter problem?
Manda: The early adopter problem.
Dave: So how do you sell on the other side of the chasm? So when you do something brand new, you get this peak of early interest, then it drops into a chasm and nobody buys for a bit, then it takes off. So what I specialised in is how do you sell on the other side of the chasm? So how do you avoid that period? And that was very successful.
Manda: So you went through a Catholic conversion at university, and my understanding is you spent some time in Ireland and I am imagining that that was quite formative to a lot of the work that you do now, of bringing people on opposing sides of big divides together. So can you tell us a little bit about that experience and where it leads to in the present day?
Dave: Yeah, so what happened at university, I got involved in a thing called the Student Christian Movement, which was very political. So there was the IVF, which was evangelical Bible believing, churches, all that sort of stuff. And there was the SCM which was Christian Marxism, worker priests, engaged with the world liberation theology. Going back to Medjugorje and things like that. I went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. So I was in that school and I was president of it for a period, on its executive committee, then worked for it full time for two years, overlapping with the World Council of Churches. So there was this combination and I was one of the first Catholics ever to be involved in that. So part of that it was still a colonial organisation, so it was still the student Christian movement of Britain and Ireland. I actually managed that split, so I created independence for the Irish movement when I was president. But either way, I was working in both communities. And there was a big centre down at Glen Cree, a centre for peace and reconciliation in the Wicklow Mountains outside Dublin. And we held a series of events there and we were quite concerned about the Corrymeela community, which is not to say it didn’t do hugely valuable stuff, but it assumed and this is a problem with peace and reconciliation full stop. It’s the Enlightenment model of rationality. If we just get everybody together and talk about their differences and we have a white male liberal facilitator, then the world would be a better place. And I just didn’t buy that. On either religious, political or philosophical or neurological grounds. It just wasn’t going to work. And it is actually beautifully satirised in episode one of Series two of Derry Girls, where the Catholic girls are thrown on board with the Protestant boys and they have two blackboards with what we got in common and what we differ on. And the one which is different just gets totally populated. And by the way, that’s actually in a museum in Northern Ireland, now. It’s been preserved as an artefact. It’s brilliant.
Dave: So the group I was working with, so I was a junior partner in this, is we basically took two or three people from each community and sent them into Latin America together. And we didn’t talk about the troubles. What we did is we created… They very quickly realised they had more in common than they thought, but critically they had the conversation about their difference when they were ready to have it, in the context of working together. Where empathy had been created and it wasn’t this sort of rational information type approach. And it’s quite interesting. I had some major rows on this and we’re now working with the Carter School out in Washington on this as a new approach to peace and reconciliation. Is you take people who are Republicans and Democrats, you find things that they agree are problems and you get small groups of young people to work on those problems. And it’s their affair when they have a conversation about their differences. It’s not your affair as a mediator. A lot of my work over the years has been to remove facilitators from workshop processes, whether it’s business or anything else, because the facilitator, the mediator, contaminates the process.
Manda: Tell us more about that. How does that happen?
Dave: Because they’re in a privileged position. They’re in a privileged position of power. Somebody doesn’t want to challenge them. And there’s a big anthropological criticism, for example, of participative action research, which is workshop based and the industrial redevelopment labs, because what they do is they privilege people who match the culture of the facilitator. And it’s impossible to avoid that bias, because you like some things and you don’t like some things. So we’ve gone out of our way over the years to remove that completely.
Dave: So the Entangled Trio’s concept is one we’ve used a lot. So that was me now in a more senior position. So what we did in Wales in a big project in the valleys, is we put people, young people could be taught how to use the software. We gathered a whole body of narrative about the community. So these are micro narratives, day to day, anecdotal data, not grand narratives or aspirational narratives, but the reality of living together. And what we do on that is we draw maps from that and we ask a question, which is how could you create more stories like these and fewer stories like those?
Manda: What are the like these that we’re heading towards and what are the like those that we’re heading from?
Dave: Let me give you an example, alright. So it’s called the Conners Bike Story. So what we found in Ferndale is that one of the pub car parks was being used by drug dealers. Now the group that came up with this is we had somebody young with somebody from their grandparents generation. So that’s called transgenerational pairing. And I don’t buy youth parliaments because it ends up with too many idealistic young people coming up with brilliant ideas and then getting dissillusioned
Dave: So we had young and bright and gifted with old, experienced in network. And if they came up with a good idea, we put them into a trio with somebody from local or national government who can make the idea happen.
Dave: So that’s distributed generation of micro interventions. And the Conner’s bike one was a good one because the pub garden was used by drug dealers. So the community built a bike park on it, running up into the forestry. Partly funded by the Forestry Commission because they wanted fire spotters in summer. And that cost virtually nothing but it changed that community. And what we were looking to do, and we’ve done the same in Malmo and Sweden and elsewhere, is to create these multiple micro initiatives. And in complexity terms, they change the dispositional state of the landscape. So they change the landscape so that problems are more likely to be solved, rather than trying to solve the problems. And that’s a big lesson from complexity theory. And the same is true of the stuff we’re fighting on in the States. And I’ll give you an illustration. I had a major fight last year with somebody in the Democrat Party. So if you don’t know it, information warfare is now such that individual families have been targeted with lies, constructed just for them, hours before they go to the ballot. And they’re saying, how do we make people aware of it? How do we ounter it? And we said, Well, you don’t counter it. You can’t. It’s never going to be as efficient.
Dave: What you need to do is to increase empathy across the communities. So what you want to do is to gather stories; young people are good for this. Young people are brilliant ethnographers because nobody questions them. Kids on a school project, people will tell them everything. So we send them out. We then find clusters of stories with common themes to red and blue alike. And then we put small groups of red and blue people to work on those and let them have a realisation themselves that they’ve got more in common than they think. And I think the solution to the sort of techno hatred which you see is to increase human empathy. Which, by the way, is partly chemical. It’s not just information based, it’s chemically based, it’s all sorts of based. It’s linked with the earth we live in and everything else. So increasing that micro level of empathy is key. And I think that’s key to the future of democracy, is it’s no longer a game of information and rational choice. So Britain is the cradle of democracy, but people forget how recent it is. I was up at the Chartist Cave above Merthyr the other day, where I actually had relatives who were chartists who ended up getting deported to Tasmania. Well that was better than being hanged, drawn and quartered, which they were originally sentenced to. Five of the six points of the charter now is just taken for granted. The only one which isn’t there is annual elections.
Manda: Annual elections. Wow.
Dave: Yeah. That was the only one in the charter, which is now not part of the way we work. Secret ballots, all those sort of things are there. That’s within memory, right, different generations. So we forget how recent this is. But if you look at it, the electoral system works on the basis of everybody knows who they’re voting for. So it’s not just voting for Slate, but then the constituencies get bigger and bigger and bigger. And certainly when I was growing up and working for the Labour Party, from the age of 11 onwards, I remember George Brown, who was then the Chancellor, came in. And he had to hold an audience on the back of a lorry for an hour and a half in a town square, which meant he had to know his subject, he had to have passion. He had to have hwyl, to use the Welsh word, you have that ability to resonate. Whereas then you go on to Tony Blair, who was probably Margaret Thatcher’s successor, and he’s the master of the soundbite. And hearing Boris this morning, basically all the politicians have learned to completely ignore reality and the truth and just keep a constant line going.
Dave: And sooner or later that breaks, but it breaks too late. And the problem now is that constituencies are too big. People don’t know it. So I live in Devizes, which is probably, I think the second or third safest conservative constituency in the country. If I put up a Labour poster, I’m considered quaint and taken out for drinks. You know, I’m the only socialist in the valley and obviously no threat. The Queen’s horses are being kept just down the road from me, right. But that means that the Conservative Party parachute in people they want in Parliament. And you can see it in South Wales; working class constituencies get elite middle class PA’s, so you lose that connectivity and then it becomes an information war. And I think what a lot of us are thinking now is the solution is actually… It’s smaller, it’s almost like small nations and cities are the future. If you look at it, they have cultural coherence. If you look across Europe. And talking with Robin Dunbar the other day, he says there’s evidence to support this. Once a country goes over above 5 million, it loses cultural coherence.
Manda: And that’s why Scotland feels so different from living in England, because Scotland is 5 million.
Dave: Wales is the same and the Scandinavian countries, except for Sweden, which is about 8 Billion.
Manda: It’s that clear.
Dave: And so on. You can see some evidence on this and there is actually some evidence in terms of social interaction and connectivity. So since Wales and Scotland got quasi independence, actually the people in the Parliament, even if they’re on different sides, probably went to school together or they know each other.
Manda: Six degrees of separation for sure.
Dave: And if you look what happened with Europe, it used to be parliament elected people to the European Parliament, then they decided to make it democratic. Well, then there’s just too many people. Your just voting a party slate. So from my point of view, I think there are two things which are key to the future of democracy. And again, I’m coming from a complexity perspective. We can’t design the perfect solution. I call this the Frozen II strategy.
Manda: Tell us more.
Dave: I mean, Frozen two is a great complexity movie. And halfway through, the real heroine of the movie, who is the younger sister without the Magic, sings this wonderful song about All I Can Do is do the next right thing. Now that actually is, if you’ve heard of Stuart Kaufman and complexity theory, that’s called the adjacent possible. The system can only move to the next step and then it has to look again. So all of these are next steps. So one of the ones that we want to do and I’ve got to finish off a proposal on that today, to one country, is for every child at the age of 16, in every school in the world to be an ethnographer to their local community. That’s easy to set up. It doesn’t cost much money. And the key thing is it means, you know, where your data is coming from. On the Internet you don’t know your source. So everybody’s trying to say what’s good or bad data and they’ve got the thing the wrong way round. What you want to know is where it came from.
Dave: So that way we can do that. We can then look for these sort of patterns, which is the more like this, fewer like that. And you’ve also got a response mechanism. So I remember writing the first proposal on this six years ago and I said, if we ever get a major pandemic, we need to be able to measure Sentiment in real time, not retrospectively. So as I say, that sort of mass engagement and starting to provide open source real time data, which is not based on your brilliance to write artificial intelligence or code. And AI is all about the training data sets anyway. But it’s about knowing that this came from different humans and different backgrounds and allowing peer to peer communication of ideas. So if a kid gathers stories from their parents farm in Nairobi, they can say ‘any more stories like these?’ And find something from Colombian coffee growers or something from indigenous Australia. And ideas can generate without mediation by the agency. So using technology to connect people, but local empathetic contact to me is key. The internet is a perverse system because it destroys personal empathy, so you need to use a combination. The other one is this concept of delegative assembly. So I mean, we’d be much better off if Wales, Scotland, northern England, south west of England were independent and big cities were independent and elected people to a British Isles or a Northern European or something. So the concept of delegation is built into the American constitution, but they subverted it. The founding fathers said nobody should get elected with the power of the president on a popular vote, because we will get demagogues and populists.
Manda: Look what happens!.
Dave: They said each state, yeah, each state should elect people they trust and those people should come together and select the president.
Manda: Which is the Electoral College idea.
Dave: And then they broke it by mandating them. That’s what the college is about. So it’s basically people come together and make a decision, yet you don’t subject something with that much power to a popular vote with that big a constituency. So I think those are two things I would do. I think there’s shorter things we need in Britain, I mean, we desperately need proportional representation.
Manda: What form would you use?
Dave: Multi-member constituencies, I think. Multi-member constituencies, the big advantage they have is that it probably means there’s somebody of your own persuasion, who’s in parliament, in the area you live. I mean, there’s no point in me going along, to take a recent example, to protest about somebody breaking the planning law because they happen to be a conservative councillor and chairman of the planning committee, to a Conservative MP entirely dependent on that person’s support. I mean, just forget it. We all know it won’t work. I remember my mother on this. I mean, we lived in Essex for a bit and then in Oxfordshire opposite one of the Attenborough’s farms, and it was a tied cottage because he was a junior vet in the practice and the hygiene conditions were terrible. So she got all the tenants together and said, we’ve got to go and… This is illegal. And they said, But do you know who the magistrate is? And she said, No. She said, the guy who owns the cottages.
Dave: And that sort of thing is still prevalent. All right. In terms of the way it works. So break in those sort of things.
Manda: So. This feels to me like getting to the meat of what I want to understand, leaving aside that at the moment we wouldn’t get the legislative change to make that happen. It sounded as if what we want in the end is smaller units of 5 million or less, in which we have some kind of… Did I understand that citizens assemblies are in the end the ideal? Because multi-member constituencies and citizens assemblies are different things. Are we aiming for two different governance structures?
Dave: Very different. There’s a couple of things related here. One of the disasters of moving out of Europe is Europe was about the only counterbalance to the states and China and Russia, none of which are democracies. America hasn’t been a democracy for a very long period of time.
Manda: And do you see any likelihood of it returning to becoming a democracy?
Dave: I mean, I did a whole bunch of scenario planning on the states with a bunch of other experts, and the most likely scenario is not civil war, but what’s called the Gilead scenario.
Manda: Tell us more.
Dave: Okay. So people living in Democrat cities in Republican states find their lives intolerable. So they move. So red becomes redder and blue becomes bluer. And then you get the boundary of Gilead.
Manda: Gilead as in from The Handmaid’s Tale?
Dave: Yeah. And you can see that happening. Then interestingly, you go back to Gordon Dickson’s Dorsai novels, if you remember those from the fifties and sixties, brilliant science fiction. So he posits a future in which human beings can’t cope with each other anymore, so they split into different planets. So you’ve got a planet of Buddhist contemplatives, a planet of Engineers, a planet of scientists, a planet of military leaders. And that’s a Dorsai, and then a planet of religious fanatics who the only way they can make money is to sell themselves as soldiers, as cannon fodder.
Dave: And I mean, it’s a very prophetic novel sequence. It’s worth reading in terms of the way it works out. And you can see that sort of thing happening, that fragmentation. And again, you can see some reason for that, the human need for identity. And the problem with the Internet is it reinforces negative identity and it prevents adaptation. A friend of mine in the Canadian Mounties said it brilliantly once. He said It used to be that every village had an idiot and it didn’t matter because we knew who the idiot was. But now the idiots have banded together onto the internet to legitimise idiocy.
Manda: And the problem with the algorithm changes that the whistle blower told us about, was that the political parties have had to actually become more extreme in order to get the traction.
Dave: Yeah. And that’s not sustainable. And you could break that quite easily. But the key thing is you’ve got to have… I mean, it’s why Europe is important. I think defence and finance you can’t afford to have on a small country basis, but other things you can. And you could also say low level type stuff. You’ve got to have a counter to China and Russia and America. And Europe’s the only viable option for that.
Manda: This is assuming a relatively stable climate in the nearish term. Because I would have thought that China seems to be understanding climate change better than anybody. As far as I understand, they’re building a coal fired sized power station that is renewable every week, which is not the narrative you hear out of the Tories, but they’re getting it.
Dave: Not only that, but they also own most of the mineral wealth of Africa and Latin America because they focussed on asset acquisition rather than political acquisition, which was an American mistake.
Manda: And they weren’t heading for oil because they realised that it was a broken system.
Dave: They’ll do something faster than anybody else, right? But that requires long term decision making and anybody whose elected by the popular vote can’t make long term decisions.
Manda: Because democracies are inevitably short term.
Dave: Coming back to the delegate side, that means if you elect people who are not dependent on the popular vote, you have to make the hard decisions and people have to explain it. That’s why delegative democracy…and actually, if you look at the way the Chinese Communist Party works, it is a delegative democracy.
Manda: Can you explain that? Because I don’t know how it works.
Dave: It’s quite complex. Well, we’re all waiting to see what happens at the big Communist Party meeting because they are capable of displacing leaders. And it’s about different power groups and different local areas. And it’s this highly composite mess. And everybody forgets China is still a fluid mixture of Confucianism and Taoism. So rigid rules and heuristics and the stability of China over the centuries has been those two. So we did a big project when I was in IBM, I ended up working for John Poindexter, who used to be Reagan’s national security advisor, which was a bit of a shock because I didn’t know who he was until I decided I liked him. And then it was too late, right. And one of the projects we did was looking at the collapse of empires. And if you look at it, the Roman Empire, I mean, you’ve written about this. I mean, I would say it collapses at the various where are my Eagle’s Point. It’s the point where the empire realises everybody doesn’t want to be Roman. And for the British, it’s the Sepoy Rebellion in India, because up until that time, everybody thinks the Indians think English were a wonderful group of people and then they suddenly realise they’re not. And we said the American empire will go the same way, right? Because it’s a cultural empire. Whereas the Chinese empire just lets the barbarians conquer them and then their civil service makes them Chinese. And that’s what they’ve done with capitalism. They’ve made capitalism Chinese.
Manda: A long time ago I heard somebody on an a very early podcast who was Chinese saying, you who live in square houses and think in square lines will never understand those of us who think in circles.
Manda: And that the Chinese think in circles. And therefore their entire way of framing reality is so different from ours, that we’re never going to get there. Does that feel viable to you?
Dave: Yes, it does. But I tend to push back against the western eastern thing, because what people talk about when ‘the West’ is they’re talking about North America, Northern Europe.
Manda: Yeah, the weird countries.
Dave: And that has the cult of the individual. And that comes from Protestantism, the rise of capitalism. So the individual is the primary form of identity, and everything is seen as a social contract between individuals. If you go, interestingly and if you look at the cultural scores on this, Wales, Scotland and Ireland score with Africa and Latin America and Southern Europe in that we’re tribal, communitarian cultures.
Manda: Right. Which is why we’re socialist. We always vote socialist.
Dave: Yeah, always were. And the obligation to the tribe is more important than anything else. And you will sacrifice for the tribe. I think that’s partly what you tried to get to in the boudica sequence, by the way, I think you were sort of getting back to that sort of thing.
Manda: That was the aim, thankyou.
Dave: Is the tribe is more important. In that identity thing, you may have conflict between the tribes, but the bond is there. Chinese is a communitarian society. And so I think the models are there in Southern Europe. If you look at interdependence, I mean, Southern Europe is going to suffer really badly from climate change. But the long term decisions are critical and the rationing is going to be conditional. So we’re past the point where we aren’t going to get some sort of massive culling of the human race. That’s going to happen. The issue is what comes out of the end of it. Unless we get a technological breakthrough. There’s a lovely book by Terry Eagleton, which is worth reading. Terry Eagleton and I were both involved in Catholic Marxism heavily back in the seventies with Herbert McCabe.
Dave: And he now produces a new book about every 18 months. And they’re all brilliant. But he wrote two, which are important. One is called Radical Sacrifice. And I’ve drawn on that a lot because until you can get people to make small sacrifices in their day to day life, the appetite isn’t there for radical sacrifices at a national level. And the other critical one is his reworking ofJurgen Moltman’s Theology of Hope, which is hope without optimism. So, certainly in the Catholic faith, to abandon hope is a mortal sin, but it doesn’t require you to be optimistic. And I think that’s a really important distinction.
Manda: Yes. And I’ve heard various Vaclav Havel on that. But I think for the sake of the podcast listeners, can you make the distinction between hope and optimism for us?
Dave: So optimism is that sort of..let’s look at it… It’s Panglossian; the best of all possible worlds. This is the sort of post-Enlightenment belief, alright? Everything’s going to work out. Don’t worry about it. It will sort itself out, yeah? And that isn’t going to work, alright, in the condition we’re in. Hope, on the other hand, is the belief… It’s almost like a belief in grace. Something will come through which will allow us not to preserve, necessarily, but to move on and be something different. There’s a transitionary sense to hope in that sense. And I think one of the things we’re going to see with climate change is actually we’re going to have to create high levels of localised interdependency. So it could be better, right, in some ways, I mean, but the cost is high. Just to be really cynical about this, I mean, somebody on another thinktank I’m on was saying, well, what about the Indian Russian alliance? And I said, Well, from what I see, most of India is going to be uninhabitable in 30 years time. And the same with Indonesia. If you’re not in air conditioning, you’re dead. So. You know, Northern Europe and northern Canada are going to be really interesting, as is Siberia. And there are things hatching out in the Siberian tundra, bacteria that we don’t know the consequences of yet.
Dave: I said about two years ago, COVID is God’s gift to humanity as a chance to get it right before it gets really bad. And regrettably, we haven’t got it right.
Manda: Though Taiwan didn’t do badly under Audrey Tang, but everybody else doesn’t seem to. So let’s take that thread a little bit further forward. We’re looking at nudging; I’ve heard you on nudging and yanking, but let’s not necessarily go down that route at the moment. But if I’m understanding your thinking correctly, we want lots of conversations that help people to find their commonality and reduce our tribalism. So we have, on the one hand, social media run by a group of men who are now in their forties and therefore potentially have another 40 or 50 years of being so wealthy that nobody can displace them. But they have the emotional age of 15 year olds and they’re still basically playing computer games. Elon Musk is on record as saying that the chances of this being based reality is so small that it can’t be. And so he’s just basically trying to level up out of what he thinks is a computer simulation. And if that takes rockets to the moon and burning infinite amounts of carbon, it doesn’t matter. So they, I am guessing, are unlikely to suddenly evolve emotionally to the point where Zuckerberg and Musk and the others understand the damage that their social media are doing. Therefore, if we are to effect a hopeful future, we need to evolve different kinds of connectivity. We need to somehow create the conversations that work; transgenerational and across divides in all of the ways that you described from Ireland. We need to reduce into 5 million or fewer political units. In the world where that is happening, let’s first of all, I would like to know how do we make that happen? Are China and Russia still the features that we see them now? Or have they broken down into units of 5 million or fewer also?
Dave: I think there’s a couple of things on this. One is I think you need a transnational identity for things like finance and defence.
Manda: Okay. Can we unpick that a bit? What does that mean?
Dave: Okay, so Europe… Because you simply have to have the muscle.
Manda: What is finance, though? Because I feel we’re going to need a different economic system.
Dave: We are, but we can’t get there immediately. Okay. So one of the things I’m talking about at Deakin University shortly with Tyson and others is gifting economies. And I’m fascinated by gifting economies. But gifting are micro within a macro world. So we can increase gifting at a micro level. But you’re still going to at some level, you’re going to have some type of concept of the control of means of exchange. Now, one of the reasons why I’m really pleased Bitcoin is collapsing is that was a classic libertarian approach. And libertarianism to me is one of the main dangers. It’s current. It’s the political equivalent of Calvinism.
Manda: Well, it’s Ayn Rand writ large; they’ve all read Atlas Shrugged and they believe it. But when the Chinese took over Bitcoin, it completely changed its dynamics because they weren’t predicated on the assumptions that the Libertarians had made.
Dave: They’re not predicated on the assumption of individual freedom. So I think and people don’t get China. China has a defensive policy, not an aggressive policy. And to some extent, Russia is the same. Whereas if you look at the history of Russia, they face the Poles, they face the Germans, they face the Americans they face…. And the concept of Rus is a land… I mean, it’s become really perverse, but the concept of Rus is linked with the land. It’s rather like the cynefin concept. And if you look at the motivation, I think what he’s doing in Ukraine is appalling. He thinks Ukraine and Georgia are part of Rus. So it’s a re-establish the homeland is kind of like the concept. So I think the issue is you’ve got to have a defence mechanism against that, but it’s not the sort of Cold War type defence, but you can’t handle modern technology at a small nation basis. Britain is too small now. Britain, France, Germany and Spain together are actually potentially bigger than the states or bigger than China in technology and other capability. But we allow ourselves to be fragmented.
Manda: Can I interrupt? So many here I think this could be a whole podcast. But defence now involves ever increasing levels of technology. We can not have to send people onto the battlefield. You just send AI. Basically, if my AI is better than your AI, I win the war. And or if I am insane enough to decide to deploy battlefield nuclear weapons and you decide that you aren’t that insane, then I win the war. So. Is there a way to short circuit that so that we have short term senses of security that don’t involve an arms race?
Dave: You could get into a real Ender’s Game if you wanted, right. In which you have all the fights in a virtual environment. But remember, that was a proxy. No, I don’t think so. Because fundamentally, you can see it’s what Putin…Putin wants the land. And we need to understand that land and water and natural minerals, that’s what the problem is going to be for the next 50 years. You are going to face increase in AI. All right. So Chinese probably out point the Americans in AI. But the way you beat AI on the battlefield is to use human decision making, not machine decision making, because anything which is AI based is training data set based. Everybody forgets this. It’s machine learning. It’s not intelligence. So the famous Google paper scholastics parrots, I don’t know whether you read that or not yet?
Manda: No, tell me
Dave: Okay. So Google employee and three or four other people wrote a paper to show how biased the Google training datasets were for all of the AI, and they weren’t Google employees one day later. Yeah? The paper is now available and I’ve been arguing this for years. That was the work I did for Poindexter. So he was brighter than people realised alright? He had a lot of integrity. He was a sub commander and an admiral. Nuclear physicist. And I remember…
Manda: So not all Republicans are evil people, is what you’re saying.
Dave: No, they’re not. And I know a lot of them, alright. I know some more evil Democrats. Or look at what’s happening with Chris Paton’s criticism of, you Know, of Boris. You have got the Old Nation, One Nation Tory, right? So when I was running St Albans Labour Party, I used to go out every Friday with my Conservative equivalent to a pub in St Lawrence, because both of us hated Margaret Thatcher for different reasons and both of us couldn’t stand the bloody political process. So we just got this sort of rocket arms with a sort of transdisciplinary thing. And I think that taught me a lot. You know, it’s people of goodwill can have different political opinions. The issue is, can they co-exist? Which is why I said there’s nothing wrong with tribes. Because tribes and clans are natural units and they can accommodate diversity. And this is what I talk about and I say too many liberal peace and conflict stuff wants to homogenise everybody into their own culture. It’s a new form of post colonialism. What you actually want is coherent heterogeneity. And the way I explain that is very simple. So when I’m not at the opera, I’m at the rugby. This is Welsh. We do one or the other and we get them confused at times, alright: we sing. So I support Cardiff, who are an highly intelligent team with good players. We follow the ref, we have a civilised crowd who play fair and do all these sort of things and then those bastards from Llanelli arrive who bribe referees, can’t be trusted, foul play, right?
Manda: And presumably they think the same about you.
Dave: Yeah. Bloody Tin Men, alright. But when the English arrive, we’re Welsh.
Manda: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I have a t shirt that says I support Scotland and whoever is playing England.
Dave: There’s an All Blacks one now, which is ‘I support the All Blacks and anybody playing against Australia(unless it’s England). Right. Which is even better.
Dave: And that’s what we call coherent heterogeneity. It’s the ability to be different and be together in different contexts. And the Enlightenment concept, which actually underpins a lot of the Internet, which has now been exploited by the far right, is this this concept of hyper homogenisation around a particular cultural… which is an enlightenment. It all goes back to Kant and the enlightenment and belief in rationality. And that isn’t how most how most human beings use their time. So to give an example from when I was 11 and this is seared on my soul. I stood, we used to have mock elections, so I’m in primary school it was the 1964 election. So I stand as a Labour candidate and I win, which was a good job because my mother would have thrown me out of the house if I hadn’t.
Manda: High stakes.
Dave: So I’m also running between the polling booths, what you do when you’re 11, right. And this is E.M.C. Davis, and she was always known as Mrs. E M.C. Davis or E.M.C., if you were an intimate. And she was a fearsome woman. She was a magistrate and she sat through a working class constituency in Mold in Clydd. And she sent most of the people who voted for her to prison on a regular basis, but they didn’t mind because she was always fair and she made sure their wives and families were looked after when they were in prison. So she was just part of that community. And she decided I was obviously going to be a politician, so she took me out for tea and my mother was really nervous. And I hadn’t read Dune then, but this is like a Gom Jabbar moment. I remember it; over tea and bara brith she said, You need to understand something. All the people who vote for us aren’t socialists. They vote for us because we look after them and we care. The day you believe they buy our politics is the day you’ve lost, right? That to me was absolutely seminal. Democrats Party got it wrong. It’s why I fought Trotskyites all my life, when I was in the Labour Party. I’m now in Plaid Cymru,I’ve had enough. And I think that comes back to my point about empathy. Politics has got to ultimately at its heart be about empathy. If you’ve got empathy and you’ve got social connectivity, yes, you can have some disagreements. But there is a sort of mean that you can work around. And that is different for different nations. So cities in the UK are now very different from England overall. England has always voted for low tax, high personal dependency, whereas Wales and Scotland have always voted for community. So those are acceptable cultural differences. We actually now know some of the biological basis for it. If you don’t know about epigenetics, by the way, we now know that cultural can inherit and we know how. So these are biological differences, not just sociological differences.
Manda: So what you’re saying is a Scot in England or a Welshman in England or a Welsh woman in England would still essentially be Scottish or Welsh.
Dave: But their children might not be.
Manda: Tell us more about epigenetics.
Dave: The famous experiment is you give the children of dumb mice to bright mice to bring up, and the children of the dumb mice are bright. And Eva Jablonka, who’s brilliant on this, she’s identified ways in which the language you speak in your own lifetime can then inherit to your children.
Manda: Yeah, I’m wanting to get to a model, if there is one, of how can we, if we were going to construct a way forward that would work. So we’re back to, we need small units. We need to promote the empathy. I’m wondering, is there a way to for us to set up a form of social media or use the existing ones, but rewrite our own algorithms, steal Facebook, and create something called book face and make it work differently.
Dave: It’s too late for that. Even Trump couldn’t do it when he tried. So one of the things about complexity theory is you basically say human beings can break past dependency, but it’s really difficult.
Manda: Tell us what past dependency is and how you break it.
Dave: So what’s in the past profoundly influences what you do in the future. You can’t escape. It creates what Deleuze called an assemblage structure. So it’s a pattern of narrative that you fall into and you find it difficult to escape. So once something moves into a niche; and that’s what we got with Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn; those niches are now occupied, so they’re not available until the ecosystem is radically disrupted. So that’s why we’re looking at changing the input. So build something which is not a competitor, but which is completely different. Every child at the age of 16, every school collecting stories, open source database, you can guarantee the origins. People will find it more interesting. Increase social interactivity around it. So I think that to me is the alternative.
Manda: How does that look? So supposing that’s happened, we’ve gone five years from now. For five years, every 16 year old has gathered the stories. Presumably that’s all up on a digital access, fully open access, and we can talk to each other about it. So we’ve created a new form of social media.
Dave: Yep. Now, this is interesting because I mean, I had this discussion in Downing Street with the nudge unit years ago and I said, Look, we could do this so you could work out when people are ready to be nudged. Because we can look at this data coming in. it comes in weekly, we can identify the dispositional patterns. And so now we know where to do things because a small amount of money will magnify very, very quickly.
Manda: Sounds terrifying to let Downing Street have this.
Dave: Well, yeah, but it’s open source and people get access to it. It’s better. I mean, they’re making those decisions based on bad data. And I still remember one, I won’t say who, said the government tells us what they want to achieve and then we manipulate people to achieve it. And that’s when I set nudge up . So the sort of systems I’m talking about, which we’ve now done in Colombia, in Malmo, in Wales, we’ve done about 15 or 16 of these projects. Now what they do is they identify when the system is ready to change and they allow micro nudges at a local level. So as a politician you say, I need more stories like these and fewer stories like that, and anybody who can do that gets some funding. So it’s a very different approach. You might almost call it a push me pull you system. It’s neither push nor pull. It’s a combination of both. So you push it a macro level on global patterns. And at a micro level people find solutions which will work for them, but within that governance framework.
Manda: So I’m hearing that we get lots of micro stories, we build local empathy, we find trust, we use blockchain as a verified system. We don’t let the people who have huge amounts of money create a parallel system that looks almost the same, but is actually populated with what they want to populate it with, which would be my great fear. I think the internet now, it’s easy to create fakes of the things that are real, but let’s leave that.
Dave: Yeah, but the other thing we do, all right, is we actually we give the power of interpretation to the person who generates the material.
Dave: That’s not what happens on anything else. So everybody else is working let’s get the text. Let’s get better algorithms.
Dave: So to give a completely different example, we just completed a big project for the Netherlands government with Leiden Institute in Old People’s Homes. So we had continuous narrative capture from residents, relatives of residents and medical staff.
Manda: Okay. And tell us what continuous narrative capture is. So this is people writing on their phones every 5 minutes.
Dave: So, for example, the nurse with a bedridden patient can take a picture of the patient, record an oral story from the patient, write some written notes. And the combination of that is what we call a sense making item. And then the patient and the nurse interpret it. And we put a lot of effort into this. These are non gameable signifier structures. Right? So I’ll give you a simple illustration. So if you ever do a satisfaction survey, which everybody’s lived through. You get this Does your manager consult you on a regular basis? Scale of zero, not at all, ten all the time. And you know exactly what answer is required. We don’t do that. We tell a story that you’d tell your best friend if they were offered a job in your company. So there’s no hypothesis in that. Then we give people a series of triangles. And one of the triangles says the manager’s behaviour was altruistic/ assertive/ analytical.
Manda: Okay, and you place yourself somewhere on that triangle or within it?
Dave: No, you place a story into that. You’re not evaluating, your indexing your stories. And the manager can look at it and say, Oh my God, everything is analytical, assertive, not altruistic, except for these. So how can I create more of these? Fewer of those? Now, the high abstraction metadata means we can scale into huge volume very quickly without algorithmic interpretation of the original. And that is called in the feminist literature, epistemic justice. What matters is the right to interpret, not the right to contribute.
Dave: Yes. And that’s why we can do this stuff at scale and we can capture non text based data as well as everything else. And again, so kids interviewing people, all that sort of works. And the interesting thing on the Leiden one, was actually was originally designed to feed the transaction systems. Now it’s the other way around. We’re taking the transaction data into our system. Because actually the narrative is actually a better guide. In fact, we’ve done ten years of this in Northern Ireland, right, on patient journeys. Actually, self interpreted narrative in a multi disease environment is actually more valuable than a lot of physiological data.
Manda: In what way? What does it give you that the physiological data doesn’t?
Dave: I’ll give an example. I’ve been working with one of the big pharmaceutical companies the last three months, on the role of AI in drug development. And the big issue with AI is the training datasets. So what do you train these things on? And what they haven’t got, which we have got, is the ability to measure human attitudes and beliefs and values because those profoundly influence health.
Manda: And therefore this is becoming relevant because they’re seeing why people are not having vaccines. Let me just take a step back, because you were saying that the language that we use is inheritable and changes our physiology. So this changes our physiology because it changes the patterns at a bodily level and that if our existing patterns are conflicted or stressed, then we build new patterns. Is that what I’m hearing?
Dave: Yeah. Or we we draw on different things. When you look at the world, you’re handling maybe about 3 or 4% of the available data. And that’s triggering a series of memories which are not just cognitive, they’re physical, they’re social. And you do a first fit pattern match, not the best fit match.
Manda: Say more about that. What is the first fit pattern match?
Dave: The first accumulation of these memories which appears to fit the data you apply
Manda: Okay. First in my own time scale or the just the first one that arises.
Dave: In your own timescale, which is very rapid, or it may be collective. The way I illustrate that is if you give radiologists a batch of x rays and ask them to look for anomalies, and on the final x-ray you put a picture of a gorilla, which is 40 to 48 times the size of a cancer nodule, 83% of radiologists won’t see it, even though their eyes scan it. Which means there are huge opportunities out there. And you can see why it evolves that way; the early hominids on the savannas of Africa, something large and yellow with very sharp teeth, runs towards you at high speed. Do you want to autistically scan all available data? Look at the catalogue of the flora and fauna of the African belt? By that time the big book of Jonah from the Old Testament would tell you what to do, but you’d be in the digestive tract of a lion. So we evolve to make decisions very quickly, privileging our most recent experiences. But it’s not just our cognitive awareness, it’s our physical awareness and it’s our social awareness. So the stories we learn as children create patterns through which we see the world. The energy cost of the human brain is already ridiculously high. We want to reduce it. So if you want to dive deeper, you’ve got to create enough cognitive stress that you break that first pattern. And that’s what we do, going back to my Northern Ireland case, we’re putting people in a position where they suddenly realise people they’ve been taught to hate are different. And at some stage one of them will say something, but it’s their timing to do that, not my time to facilitate it. So you’re creating, but the physicality of that is also important. So this is called the four E’s. So intelligence is embodied enacted, enabled and extended. If you take this view of consciousness, you can never have the singularity.
Manda: You need to unpick that. What the singularity is, for people who don’t follow that.
Dave: Singularity is this belief that there’s a point in the future where we’ll be able to transfer ourselves to computers. Which is another of these West Coast nonsenses. The reality is we’re social creatures. A lot of our intelligence is held in (this is Andy Clark from Edinburgh’s work) is held in extended scaffolding in our social structures, which does a lot of our cognitive processing for us. So human beings have this highly complex pattern-based decision process, which is completely different from how computers make decisions.
Manda: Okay, we are running out of time and I still want to go back to cognitive stress. That people under cognitive stress… I remember hearing you somewhere saying there was starvation, time-stress. And one other that I can’t remember.
Starvation, Pressure and Perspective shift.
Manda: The perspective shift, which is you take Irish people and put them in South America and the perspective shift is so huge that they speak to the other Irish people.
Dave: Radically changes if their stressed. I mean, starvation, but not to the point where you can’t survive.
Manda: No, but if I don’t eat… I don’t eat before 12:00 any day just because and I do write better when my when I feel that emptiness until I get to the point where needing to eat overrides everything else. So if we are going to create a world that we would be proud to leave to our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, it seems to me that bringing together a lot of what you’re saying is part of what we need to understand. And we can’t see the future because – complexity – and because we can only see the trends. But as we’re heading down to the wire of ending, if people listening really want to engage with more of this and less of that. What are the things that you would recommend that they do at a personal level? But also, I would really like a five minute concept of how we could restructure our politics if we all really went for it so that it worked.
Dave: Well, I’ve given you a couple of examples already. So again, we’ve been building these as packs for schools or sports clubs or church groups. So for young people to understand their community, but in such a way that it scales and can be shared.
Manda: And has the storage, have you given them ways to do that?
Dave: Yeah, that’s easy. Right. But the key thing is the metadata. You scale on the metadata, which is where the power lies, it’s the interpretation, it’s not the raw data. Because that’s what’s been exploited by the big companies. They’re exploiting raw data, so they tell you what it means. We start by the person who contributes it telling you what it means.
Manda: And then you give them the capacity to share that. So does that exist online at the moment?
Dave: Yeah. And we’ve got examples on that, right. And we’re running that extensively in the NHS. We’ve had half a dozen programmes now we’ve got ten year history on Patient Journey. So if you go to a nurse and say, how do you make this more safe? They’ll get defensive. If you say We need more patient stories like these and fewer patient stories like those, they can achieve change, right? So those are micro changes. And we’ve got packs for sports clubs because sports clubs need to collect data about parents and everything else. That also, incidentally, gives you early signal detection on child abuse because that comes through in micro stories, which doesn’t come through in other ways. We’re looking at that on old people’s homes. We got an open public database on climate change where people can come up with small things which are working locally, because that’s the small sacrifices to… All of this stuff is about changing the ecosystem within which we make decisions. Rather than trying to change the decisions that people make. If you see what I mean? And it’s what we call you’ve got to change the dispositional state, so that good decisions are more likely rather than trying to make people make decisions, you know, they’re not going to make it enough volume or scale.
Manda: Okay. But we’re going to give people the power to make decisions at a level that makes a difference. How do we do that? When the 16 year olds have become the ethnographers. First how do you persuade 16 year olds to do that? I’d be really interested because I’ve got grandchildren.
Dave: Oh, it’s easy. You make it part of the school curriculum. The teachers love it because it satisfies a requirement for three things that they’ve got to do. Yeah, ticks boxes.
Manda: All righty. So final question. We have elected the clinical narcissists. They do have, as far as I can tell, quite a clear idea of how to hold onto power. But let’s assume that within the current political system, the next round of election elects people who are slightly less clinical narcissist, but they’re still within the current system. I exist in a belief system that this political structure is not fit for purpose. Can you see, first of all, do you agree with that? And second, can you see a way to morph the current system into something that would do what you want it to do?
Dave: Yeah, but my point is it’s already happening. So city mayors are getting more and more power. Scotland and Wales took completely different approaches to COVID and their citizens backed them. You know, look at Manchester, look at London, look at Bristol.
Manda: Yeah, Liverpool.
Dave: Yep, Liverpool. So if you look at the size of them. Now what’s interesting is we think from work in Singapore, if you put people closer together, the 5 million probably goes up in number, but you’re already seeing this switch to a more distributed model. And the fundamental belief, if you change the information that politicians of good will have, then they’ll make a difference. I think the other problem is that you get these dangerous tropes, right? So like, let’s get rid of the civil servants. Because if I get rid of the civil servants, I’ll then have to give contracts to the big consultancies, which is where I’m going to get my speaking fees from when I retire. Right. And you need to rethink that side of it. But again, at a local level, Wales, when it did contract tracing, did it through the NHS.
Dave: So did Scotland. They didn’t do it through big consultancies because they were small enough to know what would work and I think small within big is the key. So I think you can change it. You change it by changing the information feed and changing the power dynamics. And I think one things people learn during COVID is I got to know neighbours I’d never met. Even though we couldn’t socially, we were shouting across the street to each other, you know the guy now does pizza in his local garage and is a baker for the village and all sorts of things go on there. So I think people still have a hunger for that type of social interaction. And we are now seeing a lot of young people who are disconnecting from the Internet. They don’t want to be gamers. They want that social interaction. When I was at the Hay festival, my daughter who is now also our lead anthropologist and thinks I don’t understand Deleuze, was at a mountain festival in Eastern Europe.
Manda: Bulgaria, Yes. You wrote about it in your blog. Right.
Dave: And what both of us are doing is kind of the social interaction is far more important than the Internet interaction. It makes a huge difference. And one thing COVID has done, I think it’s taught people that.
Manda: The value, how much they missed human interaction. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Then I think we could go on forever. But I will let you go. Thank you. I think we have enough ideas of what we can do to make a difference and take it forward. I would really like to come back and talk to you again about some of the things that we’ve talked about probably in about six months. Take it in different directions.
Dave: We’ll talk to some of the people. I mean, we got people like Beth and Emma and Ellie are all working in this area. So it might be an idea to talk to some of them. That’s the next generation.
Manda: Yeah, definitely. Especially if someone’s interested in the economics. That would be amazing. But in the meantime, Dave Snowden of Cynefin, thank you so much for the breadth of your talk. Thank you.
Dave: Real pleasure.
Manda: And that’s it for this week. We had to stop somewhere. We could easily have gone on for several more hours. And as is always the way we did continue the conversation while the sound files were rendering. You didn’t miss anything completely groundbreaking. But I think pretty much everything Dave says is groundbreaking. It’s just stitching it all together in a way that the rest of us can carry forward. That’s the thing that matters. So I will put links to the Cynefin company and everything that it does into the show notes, and I will endeavour to find links to places where we can become engaged. Those of us who listen and who care, because this genuinely feels to me as if someone, several people, very bright, are on the leading edge of working out what we can actually do to change the systems around us, in ways that will move us in the directions that we need.
You may also like these recent podcasts
BioChar, plant-dyed wool, rare breed sheep and cattle, veg boxes, and a commercial kitchen: all part of building a local regenerative, circular economy providing affordable food to local people. And it happened in the past six months.
What can we do, we who see the climate emergency racing towards us, but feel powerless? What is activism at its core and where do we find the courage to put our principles – and our fear, love and compassion – into action? James Brown, multi-medal winning Paralympian and Climate Activist talks about the nature of courage, action and his sources of hope.
If we have ten years to stop carbon emissions, how can we both rein in the power of the global finance and heal the damage done to the globals south in ways that are meaningful?
What is agro-forestry and how does it differ from Silvo-pasture or Agro-ecology? And when we’ve sorted that out, how is it that trees can become an integral part of our farming landscape, so that we can feed ourselves, while increasing the life, resilience and vibrancy of the soil? With Ben Raskin of Head of Horticulture and Forestry at the Soil Association.
STAY IN TOUCH
For a regular supply of ideas about humanity's next evolutionary step, insights into the thinking behind some of the podcasts, early updates on the guests we'll be having on the show - AND a free Water visualisation that will guide you through a deep immersion in water connection...sign up here.
(NB: This is a free newsletter - it's not joining up to the Membership! That's a nice, subtle pink button on the 'Join Us' page...)