Constructing New Global Paradigms

Behind the launch of LUMAN, a ‘new’ kind of innovation group.

What do you stand for?

Think about it for a moment or two. Meditate on it, if you like.

Write it down, if you can.

This is probably an ongoing thought and (r)evolving set of questions for many of you who are reading this.

I’ll share with you what ‘I’ stand for:

Prosperity. Thrivability. Peace. Balance. Creativity. Consciousness.

… And most of all, you.

I stand for you. I stand for your greatness.

When Tirza Hollenhorst, Philip Horvath and I made the decision to form LUMAN, we were really just coalescing an intentionality and purpose that many of us think about on a daily basis, which is how to become more human. Or put another way, how to be more humane.

Or in another sense, how to become who we really are.

Luman literally means ‘enlightened human’.

We are all enlightened beings, yet often times we don’t feel enlightened, nor do we act in enlightened ways.

As for the three of us, we recognized that the keys to innovating in a world of great transition were not somewhere over there, or necessarily found through more integrated processes and technology tools, but inside each one of us.

Don’t get us wrong, all of those tools, frameworks and processes are very important. We have an arsenal of them. We also have a network of amazing people who do amazing things. But unless more people tap into their highest potential, organizations, products and services will just continue to devolve into masses of unfocused energy and matter that just… Don’t really matter. And as such, they will continue to wreak havoc on the planet.

As for the three of us, sure, we’ve all done stuff. Each of us has started companies, sold companies, worked for large corporations, done a fair amount of pro bono work, and been a part of ‘next edge’ experiments. That’s all well and good, and has provided experiences that we draw upon for insight and reflection.

What matters, right now, is that we become the best possible people on a planet that needs us to be the best possible custodians we can be.

It’s that simple. The details, of course, are not.

Starting in the 1960s (before the three of us were even born), a throng of social and environmental movements sprang up to counteract elements of the industrial and military complexes, which naturally affected sociocultural dynamics. In America, race relations reached a boiling point (like they are today), as the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Leonard Peltier began their civil rights campaigns. During this period, corporations saw a huge spike in their footprints, and provided lots of jobs.

By the 1970s (when the three of us were born), America saw everything from the concept of ‘shareholder value’, to ‘The Nixon Shock’, to new age movements such as E.S.T. enter the fray. And while America pushed its own brand of capitalism onto the world, including legions of war veterans and mentally ill people into the streets, in countries like Canada and Ecuador, the first co-ops emerged — ecosystems where people could thrive, seemingly without any of the encumbrances of unbearable debt or institutional tyranny.

The 80s brought with it the Star Wars program, the Savings & Loan crisis, and AIDS. MTV began its indelible reign over pop culture, and financial predators like Ivan Boesky and George Soros made huge sums of money betting against companies, banks, governments and the people inside of them. Meanwhile, microfinance and microcredit proliferated in poor regions across India and east Africa, as corporations started to become supranational powerhouses. Where our food and basic living supplies saw more threats, ecological movements and ‘agri-activism’ sprang up within and alongside of farming settlements and indigenous communities.

The 90s brought us the commercialization of the Internet, and along with it, the public-facing social web. We participated in the first Internet bubble, and saw a few people become very rich, while many others experienced fallout and had to pivot their careers. Amidst the chaos, people of all walks had access to new ideas and new opportunities. China started to become a manufacturing dynasty. Still, we continued to pillage the Earth.

The new millennium carried a new wave of tropes and memes: Y2K, 9/11, The Gulf War and new climate change debates. And of course, this phenomenon called ‘social media’.

By 2010, we were well into explorations driven by (post)Singularity movements, borne out of late 18th century techno-existential philosophies, and feeling the post mortem squeeze of massive bank bailouts. The meta concept of ‘technological transformation’ took hold.

Today, we are dealing with political leaders that have failed us on all sides of the aisle and across all party lines, we are faced with corporate and institutional leadership that needs major reinvention, and entrepreneurship is no longer becoming an option for the ‘average’ citizen. And still, mother Earth is sick, her species are dying, and she is fighting back.

Some of the most pervasive themes?

Separation. Imbalance. Manipulation. Mistrust. Fear. Anger. Desperation. Bottomless hope.

Separation is a big one because, along with fear, it has helped spawn newer, arguably spurious cultural narratives such as “occupy” and the “99%”.

Yet, being custodial of the planet is about inclusion, not separation, occupation or control. It is also not about replacing one monoculture with another. We need diversity in the operating systems of our future, based on acute ecological needs. Further, we cannot continue to produce, distribute and consume at the rates we are doing so and expect to thrive — let alone survive — as a species. These are problems we must literally solve together.

So begins a rebirth of the collective ‘we’.

A critical part of that rebirth involves facilitating reform at the highest levels of corporate, institutional and governmental domains, and doing that through the lenses of human value. Fortunately, clear and convincing arguments can now be made on how human value greatly impacts the bottom line. (If you question this, as you should, do your own research as there’s lots to explore. It’s not that difficult to find.)

Let’s look at what this means in terms of bonafide application.

First, it is time to address what our current realities on this planet present to us, or what we allow them to mean. We can call this a set of dynamics tied to ‘New Paradigm (co)Creation’.

Our current paradigm is largely a programmed reality, one in which we are led to believe certain things, and where we are essentially spoon fed belief systems and ideas about the way ‘the world really is’. In this paradigm, history repeats itself, and we have limited learning capability simply because the same elements keep reappearing.

Alongside of it is an intuited reality we also have access to; this is what our gut tells us, and what we feel in our heart, that is, when we actually listen to it. In this paradigm, we have expanded learning capabilities because we don’t necessarily repeat the mistakes of the past, and, we create different outcomes through our better intentions.

Emerging out of the tensions between our programmed reality(ies) and out of intuited reality(ies) are a whole new set of paradigms. This happens as perspectives go through exponential, accelerated shifts in consciousness and intentionality. More importantly, it happens as we continue to learn and grow as people.

Aspects of these shifts are paradigms that already exist and have existed for centuries. It is written that the French Revolution, for example, happened overnight. The Russian Art Revolt and Tiananmen Square were also a quick uprisings. The tearing down of the wall between East and West Germany serves as another great example.

But in each of these scenarios, we have reacted to institutional or monarchical oppression. The neo-feudalistic attributes of these regime-like periods require our subservience. In order to break these meta behaviors, we need to create a whole new set of realities. We need to be far more proactive.

By default, we are all activists. The central question then becomes: “What do we activate?” And coming full circle: “What does each of us stand for?”

This, of course, is a choice, or series of choices, and not necessarily one that is easy or clear. It is also (co)created. This is why we are here. That is, if you choose to accept that path.

If you choose the path of (co)creation, then also know this: it is simply not enough to be vocal in social media threads or to lash out at ‘the system’. You need to show up, be self-responsible, and by doing so, we can show up for each other. We need to create cultures of (un)learning, and cultures of doing. This is what opens up the doors for unlimited possibility.

Hence, why those of us at LUMAN — which really includes you — believe so firmly in the power of storytelling in order to shift the conversations towards actions of real, sustainable change. We know it ‘works’, and it’s time others do as well.

On the subject of narrative, we have an entire toolkit that we’ve developed to facilitate transformation. The point isn’t to show you how great our tools are, but to show you how great you are, and we are together, when provided ample context and a space for (co)creation.

In (co)creating new paradigms, we place our focus on shifting human dynamics. These are modalities, or macro phenomena, that shape the way we feel about ourselves and the world. Along with them come associated values, and sets of values, that we can ascribe to our actions, and measure them accordingly.

As we transition from a world primarily based on fear and a victim consciousness, we can examine the levers that drive our behaviors, recombine them, ask different questions, and conjure different outcomes.

It is important to note that these modalities don’t necessarily fall into designations of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, or a series of false dichotomies. The intent is to look at these dynamics as existential tools, and use them to our advantage.

As such, we use narratives that already exist in the world to reconstruct their comprising arcs, and redevelop archetypes in order to approach these scenarios with a fresh outlook. The critical aspect of this is the development of the self as ‘he’ or ‘she’ relates to the ‘we’, or the collective, and developing a shared language around actions of altruistic change. This is where we experience profound breakthroughs. It is within these intersections that we manage Ego, and build up muscles for the Eco part of the Self. It is also how we create an operating context for the shift towards a more unified existence on this planet.

We apply this set of approaches to everything from product development, to organizational restructuring, to brand explorations, to civic causes. We can go very deep with our narratological tools, using data and experience design in highly inventive ways. As well, we can adapt our frameworks to the dynamics we witness inside of various types of systems, and across different ecosystems. In short, it is all based on human behavior, and human capacities. It comprises an effort that we call developing literacies of the imagination.

The central point is that in constantly reframing the existential conditions behind products, services and organizations, we can quickly come to a consensus and sets of informed actions that spur significant shifts in consciousness, which in turn bridge the gaps between commerce and culture.

In the coming weeks, we will share more on our process and some of projects we are working on.

Thank you for taking the time to read and discern for yourself what this can mean for you, as a global citizen.

How might we be in service together?