For the first time in over 500 years—since the Renaissance—we are witnessing a new value system arising in western culture. In the past, defining culture was the exclusive domain of philosophers, economists, clergy, artists, technologists and civic leaders. Now, anyone who wishes can become a co-creator in the process of cultural evolution. Exponential technological advances now allow us all to play an active role in the transition to the new system.
“The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. The future is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you.” — Pope Francis, 9 July, 2015.
The transition we’re currently experiencing is producing a more rapid and more sweeping change than anything our planet has ever experienced: a transmutation as we literally change from one state of existence to another.
In physics, there is a concept called phase transition. It defines the sudden transformation of a system from one state to another (e.g. water to ice), when a specific threshold is crossed. Never in human history has this happened to us as a species. Yet this phase transition will certainly happen to many of us alive now.
An extraordinary, unprecedented, transcendent new era is emerging. This emergence is now accepted as fact by leaders in diverse fields. The old must necessarily step aside to allow for the emergence of the new. This process can be wrenching or it can be graceful. We choose graceful.
In a time of this kind of epochal change, it is useful to present a common story — a seed kernel — which, though perhaps imperfect, provides ideas, triggers, suggestions, examples and a framework of what could be. The most important purpose of the story is to provide hope amidst an increasing swirl of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.
“I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question of ‘What story or stories do I find myself part of?’” — Alasdair MacIntyre, Scottish philosopher and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics
The story should encompass and stimulate conversation of radically new ideas about the way we engage with each other and with institutions — institutions of government, health care, education, food production, energy, transport, and all other major sectors. The idea is to frame the discussion for a new world, one that Otto Scharmer calls Society 4.0.
Society 0.1: Organising around place-based communities (premodern)
Society 1.0: Organising around centralised power: the state (one sector; centralised state)
Society 2.0: Organising around competition: state plus market (two sectors; decentralised markets)
Society 3.0: Organising around special-interest groups: state plus market plus NGOs (three sectors; conflicting relationships)
Society 4.0: Organising around the commons (three sectors; co-creative relationships)
We intend producing a series of fun 60–90 minute documentaries of Society 4.0: inspiring stories of a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
“I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself — while something else, still indistinct, were rising from the rubble.” — playwright and past Czech president, Václav Havel
The intention is to create a single story from the collective creativity of humanity and to speak from what is moving through, to give birth on a global scale to Awareness-Based Co-Creation (ABC). This article explains how that documentary might be birthed.
But first, a personal story.
1996 — Sydney, Australia
In mid-1994, I decided I wanted to emigrate to Australia from South Africa. After spending a small fortune and many hours with immigration attorneys — all of which resulted in 3 rejected applications — I realised a different approach was required.
As was the custom in those days (there were no such things as smart phones), I purchased a new diary at the beginning of 1995.
On the front cover I pasted a map of Australia, added a big red X over Sydney and placed a small picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in the middle of the map. For an entire year, people would ask me the reason for the map and I’d explain how I’d been rejected entry to Australia, but the map reminded me of my determination to get there.
On a Friday in mid-December 1995 I hosted the Managing Director of the British company who had supplied the software I’d been responsible for implementing. After a gruelling day of meetings, we went to the local pub for a few drinks. As we arrived, I unconsciously placed my diary on the bar as we ordered drinks. After a few minutes he asked the same question everyone usually asked: “Why the map of Australia?” I gave my standard explanation, without a moment’s further thought.
Half an hour later, after further social chit-chat, the MD said:
“You don’t know this, but I leave tomorrow night for Sydney to let the Asia-Pacific General Manager go. I have no one to replace him. Might you be interested in the position?”
Two months later, after frantic negotiations and paperwork completion, I found myself seated in a North Sydney office, with a view of the Harbour Bridge almost exactly the same as the photo I’d placed on the front cover of my diary. The package included housing in one of Sydney’s most expensive suburbs, Mosman.
A few months after arriving in Sydney — as a result of another seemingly impossible set of ‘coincidences’ — I found myself sailing under the Harbour Bridge, completing one of the many entries on my bucket list. All thanks to the map I’d placed on the cover of my diary.
Since the Australian experience, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience 3 similar ‘outcome from intentions’ play out in my life (London, Taipei, Dar es Salaam) — but those are stories for another day.
2006 — The Secret
Ten years after the Australian experience, Rhonda Byrne — an Australian television writer and producer — released The Secret, a book and film popularising ‘the law of attraction.’ Despite her critics, the low-budget, independent film had grossed $300 million by 2009. While I wasn’t much impressed by the product, I did fall in love with the complex marketing campaign behind The Secret, which I followed and noted with great interest. After its successful launch, I added an item to my bucket list:
I intend to — when the right product appears — engineer a marketing campaign similar to The Secret, but aimed at improving humanity’s existence.
Today, almost 12 years later, the right ‘product’ — Society 4.0 — is emerging and, more importantly, humanity is ready for that shift in consciousness.
2017 — The Incredible Curious Global Adventure
In November 2017 I attended a 3-day seminar on Strategic Foresight, put on by The Futures School. It was there that I met Shereen Amos, Founder and Managing Director of Sugarbird Studios. As fate would have it, Shereen has produced a documentary using the same approach employed in making The Secret (interviewing experts in their field), but for the global insurance industry.
In March 2017, she set out on the Incredible Curious Global Adventure, speaking to and filming 70 thought leaders from the insurance industry, and then distilling the recurring themes down to a 60 minute documentary. The teaser is shown below. Bear in mind that this is about insurance, to me one of the most boring topics under the sun. Nevertheless, she managed to extract really interesting key issues that insurance execs are concerned about, but can seldom discuss with peers. The documentary sparked a global discussion in the insurance industry.
2019 — The Greatest Human Adventure
After an initial introduction and subsequent emails and meetings, Shereen became inspired by the Project 2030 vision and has agreed to help us produce the documentary for Society 4.0 — woo hoo!
- Identify a list of 100 to 120 global thought leaders, activists, technologists, humanitarian innovators, connectors and influencers who are aware that our current operating system is dysfunctional and that a new, parallel operating system is urgently required;
- Invite those individuals to do an in-person on-camera interview;
- Ask each of the participants the same 10–25 thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting questions, on-camera;
- Transcribe the interviews using Voicebase;
- Find common ideas and themes from the transcriptions, and weave together the emergent, transcendent ideas into a story;
- Add graphics, titles and music during post-production;
- Birth the story into physical existence in the form of an inspiring documentary (or series).
Best Job in the World
In addition to the documentary itself, we intend including a contest in which the winner will be a remarkable individual under the age of 30, who will travel with the camera team. This individual will communicate, via social media, her or his ongoing experience of the trip and interviews, as they happen. The intention is to build a large following, primarily from the age group of our next generation of leaders. The contest will be based on the 2009 Australian “Best Job in the World” campaign:
Best Job In The World
Best Job in the World was also inducted into the PR News Platinum PR Awards Hall of Fame in 2014.
The primary objective of this documentary is to inspire a minimum of 1 billion individuals with an attainable vision of a bright alternative future. Why 1bn people? Because research shows that, once 10% of a population is committed to an idea, it is inevitable that the idea will eventually become the prevailing opinion of the entire group — in this case; humanity.
This is what we will have to accomplish to succeed:
- Raise the required funding via crowdfunding (the use of donated funds will be transparent, with regular updates provided at the crowdfunding site);
- Create a compelling name, brand, website and initial teaser campaign;
- Establish a significant online following from all walks of life and from every nation;
- Produce a documentary that appeals primarily to our future leaders (people born after 1990).
- Develop a simple model explaining the Evolution of Societies: completed.
- Develop a mindmap of the documentary: completed.
- Launch a crowdsourced initiative to find examples where Society 4.0 is demonstrably emerging: planning underway.
- Crowdfunding preparation: February 2018
- Crowdfunding campaign: March to April (30 days)
- Planning for documentary and travel: May to August
- Filming of interviews: August 26 (to coincide with Burning Man) to end October (round the world trip)
- Insights and edit framework: November to December
- Post production: Late January to end March 2019
Here is the entire plan on a single page:
Why did I include the story of sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
Because I’m absolutely convinced — through personal experience — that some things can only be achieved by setting a clear intention. Some things are only possible with less planning and more being open to flow. Some things appear impossible — until you start them. And then they’re not. Society 4.0 — The Movie is one of those seemingly impossible tasks, but today we’re kicking it off.
“Intention is not a powerful force; it is the only force.” — Brian Arthur, economist, Santa Fe Institute.
If you’re interested in helping us birth transcendent societies with our ambitious Project 2030, please check out the overview, and invite others to do the same.