Progress is Inevitable.
The future will be transparent, so mission driven businesses with values based cultures are the only ones that will survive.
Why? Because technology reduces the cost of information through history and will continue to do so in the future.
More transparency leads to more accountability as choice by customers, partners and employees becomes reality.
Transparency also leads to Access as information becomes digitized and distributed at scale: distribution is enhanced through miniaturization of the devices of measurement and consumption (iPhones, etc). This is also enhanced by the emergence of scaled and distributed cloud computing infrastructure, which enables the sharing and consumption of information in more transparent and efficient means.
Transparency also enables Choice, and thus Quality and User Experience matter more. People will not spend time in uncomfortable ways when they can choose others. This can be seen in the decline of the “set-top box” bundle in favor of higher quality experiences through devices like the iPad or Apple TV.
This also is reflected in the way people navigate through their careers and choose products and services throughout their daily lives.
These improved experiences along with greater Access mean a higher quality set of interactions for a greater number of people. This increase in Equality is a natural result of the reduction in the transaction costs necessary to share experiences, products and knowledge.
As technology crushes the cost of information, the cost of sharing experiences, content, know-how and other information is also reduced, which makes it economic for more people to have Access to the same things. This is obvious in the context of things like the replacement of Encyclopedia with Wikipedia. It also becomes evident in areas like live-streaming or live-tweeting when the broadcast of information is made globally ubiquitous for all. We see this everyday.
This improvement in transparency applies in other areas as well: specifically in the way people navigate though the system broadly.
When information is expensive, we must use overly simplistic categories to identify people. This results in xenophobia, bigotry, and other overly biased ways of thinking. However, as we have more access to information about people and they are able to share more of themselves they become more visible. We are better able to see who they really are.
We are better able to help / support / train / promote / grow / nurture the talented people in our society. The success of YearUp demonstrates this fact. But this is only the beginning.
Diversity in workforces across professional disciplines will be the norm in the future as both sides of the network — companies and people — function more seamlessly.
On one side: individuals have more access to skill-building knowledge and competencies and therefore are able to improve themselves more effectively. They can also navigate through the system in a way that is more efficient and effective: they can see paths available and pursue them accordingly.
At the same time, capital sources, companies, potential partners and others can see individuals more clearly.
This two-sided process enables the more effective and optimal filtering and utilization of talent within the system.
This happens globally and results in more productive societies and people. This is the path forward for the utilization of Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus.
As people are more effectively utilized / challenged / aligned with their work, they become more motivated / healthy / happy people.
This process — transparency leading to more Equal Access, which leads to more optimal and efficient utilization of people — also leads to more meaningful lives.
While this process is transpiring, transparency also leads to other emergent phenomena like more Access to the tools of law and Justice in society. We see this in the public outcry to video depictions of brutality. This gives Voice to individuals who previously did not have it.
Shining a light on injustice also enables collective motivation and action around causes to help eliminate them together. Furthermore, the unveiling of the complexity and unnecessary obfuscation of the legal realm also leads to more utilization of the system by more people in a more efficient way.
This means more Justice in direct utilization of the legal system itself.
Beyond the utilization of rights and collective enforcement of them and the elimination of highlighted pains and ills; increased transparency also leads to growing awareness of our community more generally.
Related to the Humanizing force that transparency brings to our conception of identity and individuals; as we see our fellow neighbors as people, we Care more about them. This Care causes a change in the nature of our day-to-day existence. A more thoughtful and aware, Community-centric way of being leads to less violence, crime, externalities and costs associated with anti-social behaviors.
It also has the positive effect of increased collaboration, cooperation and coordination within and among communities.
Increased access to knowledge clearly leads to understanding and know-how in an academic and professional sense, but it also leads to awareness and understanding on a personal basis. This is crucial in the context of personal health and wellbeing. Having the ability to improve oneself from a physical health perspective becomes easier with more information, understanding and knowhow about how health works; but also as we have more insight into our own health, we are able to assess it and optimize it more effectively. This clearly also applies to the other dimensions of health: mental, emotional and spiritual.
As we have more awareness of how to improve these dimensions coupled with the knowledge of the importance of these dimensions, we are more able to focus on and improve ourselves along each of them.
When we combine the Community nature of a more transparent and caring society with this notion of individual self-improvement and health; we begin to see that the Community becomes a self-reinforcing, self-supporting and self-enhancing element in this process. We see each other; we help each other; we help ourselves; we are each more able to help the other and so on.
As the individuals enhance their own Wellness in the Community and the Community is elevated by the collective efforts of those individuals living by example in their own lives in a transparent way, the entire Community achieves a greater state of Wellness along the various dimensions of health and well-being mentioned above.
This process of increased Wellness also occurs beyond the individual humans in the Community as well. As we can see the harm of certain behaviors and the results that those behaviors have for the environment around us, we choose not to allow those behaviors to take place, as individuals, and as a collective.
We clean up our messes. We waste less. We are more thoughtful about resources and how they are utilized. As we take a more conscious approach to the way we interact with our environments each day on a personal and community level, the nature of our interactions improve. We eliminate pollution. We become more sustainable. We achieve greater efficiency and cleaner resource utilization. We achieve Wellness for the Earth.
The process of Progress unfolds for each individual and for the community and society over long periods of time. Each person has their own work to do as does each family, community, country, and continent. Furthermore, these processes are self reinforcing and also require and benefit from certain “path dependencies” — choices made by powerful entities or popular culture can influence the timing, sequence and emergence of these phenomena.
For instance, regulatory processes and other burdens create large inefficiencies. Furthermore, some individuals who seek to retain / capture / exploit current power structures might limit the emergence of some of these phenomena as they act in ways that are resistant to Progress in their own lives and communities.
The other pragmatic consideration is that companies that are operating in ways to nudge the world forward along these lines require good timing, execution, and operations to succeed in their individual efforts.
Progress is inevitable, but failures will happen along the way. Setbacks allow us to learn both as individuals and as a collective — they help us see which ways not to go.
This process of path dependency, inefficient steps, failures and timing means that a long view is required to invest along themes of Progress. It requires patience.
It means navigating through the inevitable Cycles that emerge as the World progresses through time.
Cycles matter, but Progress is inevitable.