Are we doomed to accelerate?
A reflection on innovation sparked by the European Super League conundrum.
A few weeks ago, the European Super League affair was all over the news. Plenty of interviews, opinions and remarks have been written on this story. I’m not an expert on the subject; however, I read one thing that made me think.
Apparently, the main reason why some teams have decided to organise this exclusive tournament — in the true sense of the word since it excludes practically all but a small elite of European football teams — is that their current business model is no longer sustainable.
This model continues to inflate costs and investments of football clubs at a rate that has sent them all into a tailspin. The response to this problem by a dozen of Europe’s richest and most prestigious teams has been creating something that would allow them to grow and increase their profits: the European Super League.
In short, as the hunger — for funds in this case — continues to increase, the solution they came up with was to increase the amount at their disposal.
This approach is certainly not new.
How often do we read that the only way for an organisation to survive in this hyper-competitive market is to keep growing? To expand into new markets, or to merge? Or to accelerate so as not to be overtaken and disappear? In short, either you innovate at ever-increasing speeds, or you are done.
Are we, therefore, doomed to accelerate and grow?
Looking at things from a distance, it would seem so. The economic and social ecosystem that we have created and in which we operate appears to be autocatalytic. That is to say, it constantly accelerates because it is self-catalysing. It is a sort of centrifuge that fuels itself, spinning faster and faster.
And because we are all part of this ecosystem, we are forced to accelerate in turn to not be pushed out or left behind.
This constant acceleration is often described as inevitable. It is a kind of law of nature; either you adapt or you die.
Quite obviously, if we believe that the acceleration of the ecosystem is inevitable, we can only accelerate to stay in the game. Any other solution would force us to question the foundations of the game itself; those dogmas that we are convinced cannot be changed.
The constant acceleration of this ecosystem has undoubtedly brought several benefits to humanity. Just think how much the world has changed in the last 50 years. Thanks to this continuous drive to go faster and faster, we have achieved results that only a few years ago were the stuff of science fiction books.
However, it is undeniable that the need to grow and innovate at an ever-increasing rate has also created ever-greater challenges: climate change, over-consumption of natural resources, social tensions, to name but a few.
Moreover, and for a while now, this autocatalytic ecosystem has been showing some cracks. According to a 2017 survey, 41% of Americans and 50% of Italians believe that today’s quality of life is worse than 50 years ago. And in many countries numbers are even worst.
The general uprising against the Super League project is another sign of the growing distance between this accelerating ecosystem and the people who are part of it.
The ecosystem that we have created and fed over the years is leaving us behind.
Not only are significant parts of humanity being left out of this race. Also, larger pieces of our humanness are left behind, creating a dissonance whose symptoms are increased stress, mental health disorders, and existential crises.
What if speeding up and growing is not the only solution?
Every time we increase our speed to match the one of the ecosystem, we accelerate it even further because we are part of it. In short, as long as we stay within the rules of the game, we continue to feed it.
To get out of this self-feeding loop, we need a new approach to development and innovation. One that brings the focus back on humanity. Horizontally, by becoming more inclusive and altruistic. But also vertically, by putting the very essence of the human being at the centre of the project.
How can we do this?
One way could be designing new models and structures. Acquire more data and knowledge and then learning new skills and tools to hack the ecosystem. These are all excellent ideas, but they will probably create a limited impact as long as they arise from the same level of awareness that created the ecosystem we want to change. As the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti reminds us, “as long as we base revolution on an idea, it is not a revolution. A revolution based on belief, dogma or knowledge is no revolution at all but merely a modified continuation of the old.”
What if the key is not to add but to subtract?
To transform an ecosystem, we must first see and move beyond the beliefs and dogmas through which we see it; our conditioning. That’s the place to start.
To innovate the world, we must first innovate ourselves.
Only in this way we can shift from doing innovation to being innovators, releasing all our creativity. This paradigm shift can be achieved only through a process of subtraction. One that, by removing conditioning and limiting beliefs, helps us to awaken and manifest the potential of all five vital intelligences for innovation: physical, social, cognitive, intuitive and spiritual. Only when we integrate the faculties of all five intelligences can we express the transformative potential of legendary innovators such as Tesla, Einstein, Ramanujan, Da Vinci or Gandhi.
It is not an easy path by any means. This journey is deeply human, and therefore its unfolding is non-linear, often confusing and full of inner duality. It is a journey for the bold, the adventurous, the brave and the patient. Because it is not a journey that you take, but one that ensues as we remove our conditioning and expand our awareness.
The reward for those who decide to go on this journey is extraordinary; they will become Being Innovators — people who can expand their awareness and express their full creative potential.
Every gesture of a Being Innovator, even the smallest, can create a transformative impact on the ecosystem of which they are part: family, organisation, community and the world at large. Once the conditioning is removed, and the field is cleared, the opportunities are endless.
The good news is that we can all walk this journey and become Being Innovators. No special gifts or talents are needed.
If you are a human being, you are an innovator.
Within each of us lies the ability to create radical, selfless innovations that can make a remarkable impact and transform our ecosystem.
This is one of the beliefs that led to the writing of this book. There is an ocean of untapped creative potential, blocked by a thick web of conditioning and stories that limit our ability to see beyond. Only by unlocking this potential do we have the chance to transform the ecosystem in which we are immersed.
However, to unleash our infinite creative potential and address the great challenges of our time, we must first pursue a radical expansion of consciousness, both personally and collectively. This will allow us to take advantage of the infinite possibilities that tools, methodologies, technologies and systems offer us.
In this book, we offer a simple and holistic map that you can use to begin the journey of innovating yourself.
You can find more information about the book and an excerpt to read on TheBeingInnovator website.