Why we do what we do

CIC in a nutshell

Young people from BG 2021

At Crazy Ideas College (CIC) we do what we do because we want young people equipped, connected and unleashed to do crazy good in the world. We want to see young people generating bold and inspired ideas — and we want them to bring those ideas to life in partnership with business and community. These ideas will showcase new and ingenious ways to care for our environment and help more people live healthy, connected, prosperous and fulfilling lives.

For too long young people have been locked out of decision making and change processes. Young people deserve an opportunity to shape the world they and future generations will inhabit. We all benefit when we unlock the ingenuity, resourcefulness and optimism of young people. We want community and business connected to an army of young people who are big hearted, imaginative and passionate about the possible — super charged problem solvers with a doer’s orientation.

The times we are in

It’s increasingly evident that our world is changing in surprising and important ways. We are wandering towards a set of crises and challenges that require much more from us than business as usual.

There are a host of forces disrupting the status quo.

  • Technology is running away from us and advancing at a rate that our legislators, ethicists and system architects can’t keep up with (we have fast tools building faster and smarter tools).
  • Our democracies and political systems are in a fragile state
  • Geopolitical and economic power bases are shifting and the threat of a major global conflict is escalating
  • Community debate and conversations are often polarised and divisive
  • Levels of inequality limit our alibility to promote individual and collective flourishing
  • Pandemics are changing the way we live, work, socialise and think about risk
  • Planetary conditions are in flux
  • There is a rising fear that our future prospects are bleak and more people are asking — is this accumulation of stuff really what a life well lived is all about?

This is a potent mix and these forces feed into each other in a way that takes us to unexpected places. We now live in an interconnected world where small changes in one part of the system can have a big and unpredictable impact elsewhere.

There’s a multitude of models and narratives that point out that we are about to experience a significant transformation in our planetary conditions and how we organise our economies, service systems and communities.

Futurist Ziauddin Sardar employs the term ‘Postnormal Times’ and observes that complexity, contradictions and chaos ‘are the forces that shape and propel postnormal times’. The new dynamics mean that our old rules and formula no longer work in the way they used to. When we go looking for answers we find that an interconnected, ever changing system is a slippery foe. We can’t control it. Only the bluntest of instruments can slow it down (hello lockdowns). Our old certainties are gone. We have more people and stakeholders that want to be engaged. In short, we run up against the limits of our existing conventional approaches.

At these moments, we have a few choices. Some will try and retreat to the perceived sanctity of the past — yet when we try this we find that we can’t put certain genies back in the bottle. Others seek to break through into new ways of organising and living. The uncomfortable truth is that we don’t yet have breakthrough solutions that work at scale. As Ziauddin Sardar drily notes — we find ourselves caught between ‘no longer’ and ‘not yet’.

Futures Building: to dream and act anew

Many of the models that take us to healthy and vibrant futures are yet to be imagined. We are going to have to create new images of the future, experiment and trial new approaches.

So it’s quite the challenge — and as with any challenge, it’s also an opportunity. To cross beyond ‘not yet’ we will need to dream and act anew. To do that we need to harness the creativity and wisdom that sits across society. Leadership and experiments will have to come from novel places. Although our political, economic, and institutional powerbrokers may need to play key roles in transformation they still have much vested in ‘no longer’. It has to be a journey that has an ethical underpinning. Our range of concern has to extend so that we find solutions that work for more people and living things. In an interconnected world — a solution that works for your family or business, but not the environment and others around you — is not really a viable solution over the longer term.

This means that over the coming years we are going to be reorganising and reimagining:

  • Our political and decision making systems
  • Our economies
  • Workforce models
  • Our education systems
  • Our models for delivering health and wellbeing
  • Physical infrastructure
  • Our relationship to the planet

Put simply, the future is up for grabs. It is time for people and organisations who want to build more beautiful futures to step up. And it is time for doing models — there’s enough platforms for talk.

CIC is committed to extending our activity, reach and impact. We are establishing a model that unleashes people’s creativity and brings new ideas to life. More specifically we are building:

  • A pipeline of talented young changemakers with crackingly good ideas
  • Programs that equip people with the skills, mindsets and capacities to innovate and lead (see CIC programs )
  • Technology, systems and tools that make it easier for people to build and support ideas
  • Connections that allow people and organisations to collaborate across generations, cultures, disciplines and worldviews
  • Platforms for people to share their stories, ideas and best hopes for the future (see CICbeyond.com )
  • Insights about how young people are feeling about the world around them and what matters most to them
  • Access to resources so that great ideas can be scaled

Young people are a gateway to the possible

It is important to state more explicitly why we’re banking on young people playing an important and influential role in shaping the future.

Many young people are passionate about the possible and care deeply. Young people are capable of being audacious and thinking in novel and transformative ways — free range thinking is easier for those less encumbered by notions of how things are traditionally done. We’ve seen that many young people have a gift for revealing previously unseen possibilities — thereby extending the range of options we have for responding to stuck problems.

Young people often have a doer’s orientation and are eager to see progress. Less likely to get bogged down in another round of planning, young people have a preparedness to act, experiment, learn fast and try new approaches. Properly supported young people can learn skills, mindsets, tools and processes that set them up as the great experimenters of our age.

As changemakers, young people are uniquely positioned to win hearts and minds. Young people are embedded in a multitude of networks through their families, schools, communities and interests. At their best young people are capable of disarming polarised debates. In our experience people from across generations love supporting the change efforts of young people. There is often less cynicism attached to the efforts of young people making it OK for others to bring their best selves to the collaboration. The hopefulness of youth, when matched by action is a powerful tonic.

Buckminster Fuller was well and truly onto something when he observed:

“Our children and our grandchildren are our elders in universe time. They are born into a more complex, more evolved universe than we can experience or than we can know. It is our privilege to see that new world through their eyes.”

Adventure Time

CIC is ready to rip into this rollicking adventure. Adventures are a team game enriched by the people you take them with. We’ll have the pleasure of working with thousands of young people this year. We’re partnering businesses that are serious about their social licence and want to support the efforts of talented young people. There are Councils and other place based entities that want to unlock the brilliance of local young people. People who care deeply about our collective futures are connecting in and finding ways to play their part.

The journey from ‘no longer’ and through ‘not yet’ will take all of us through uncharted waters. We have to learn new skills and mindsets that enable us to thrive and persist even when disruption strikes and we don’t know what the outcome of our efforts will be.

Although the penny’s yet to fully drop for people in terms of the scale of change in front of us, we are heartened by the knowledge that when ambition meets action transformation occurs. We believe that by and large our local and global communities will succeed — it’s just that success looks vastly different than many of us imagined. We will have to let go of ideas, concepts and models that no longer serve the interests of people and planet. And we have to get cracking by building models and ideas that draw forth the best in us and move us towards more connected, healthy and beautiful futures.

We can imagine a future where the CIC community is bursting with passionate people that have a diverse set of talents, life experiences, resources and connections. A future where we tap into young people as the great unlockers.

Where collectively we form a Reinvention Engine, powering up a never-ending supply of delightful and brilliant ideas that revitalise the way we educate, foster well-being, organise economies, connect communities and care for our environment.

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