"We can't be part of the future if we don't have the stories." Participant in the ISSS conference
Last week during our Backcasting exercise at the ISSS conference, one group suggested a "Let's See What Happens Day" around environmental crisis.
Here's the idea: In order to bring to life the reality of global change, a series of simulations throughout the world would take place. Citizens would be made aware that on a certain day, all electricity, gas stations, water, etc. would be cut off. Citizens would have time to prepare and get ready but the simulation would be real. Several should be planned each year. Modern life would come to a halt during each of these simulations. What would happen? What would we learn from these kinds of events?
Learning from the simulation…
In the day-to-day work of organizations, it is difficult to "see," let alone understand, the complexities of the system within which we work. Information flows and feedback loops are fragmented and often subject to time lags so that it becomes very difficult to have any sense of cause-and effect. These effects are magnified in departmentalized organizations as well as those spread out geographically.
A benefit of a robust simulation is that it can model and reveal the 'whole system' in an intense, time-compressed period. Insights as to the information flow, system response, cause and effect relationships are easier to recognize and understand. This learning can then be extrapolated and applied to the organization as it operates in the real world.
By planning several of these each year, we would come to know over time the consequences of ignoring the reality of severe climate change. It would probably kick into high gear local community resourcing and bring people together to design and unfold a new way of being community and of finding both the richness of community support and the loopholes that a few weak members took advantage of. Iterations of design could make each “See What Happens Day” bolder and richer.
Remember the brown out in New York a number of years ago and when the electricity went out on the east coast? Community formed and amazing things happened. Love, support, play (even galumphing), creativity and action fell into place. People forgot to be what they had learned throughout the years, and instead remembered what it was like to be human. The natural aspects of sapient leadership fell into place. The same was true of 911, Katrina, and the tsunami and the massive earthquake. These tragedies wake us up to our natural selves.... to our larger context. See What Happens Day is preparatory, not reactionary. These kind of simulations can save life and move us quickly to a new paradigm and way of working. Does anyone want to get this idea started? Can we bring it to life?