God, the Conservative, the Liberal and the Snake

One day, a conservative walked through the brush.  It was a warm day, the sun beating down on the fields. After passing over a hill the conservative stopped to take a drink, when out of the grass came a long, venomous snake slithering across the path.  Startled and scared, the conservative reached for his rifle.  “This world isn’t safe with that snake slithering on my path.”  He loaded his gun, and BANG, shot the snake right between his head and his tail.

Shortly after, God was walking through the Brush and he came upon the snake. Unlike the conservative, God was not scared.  After all God created the snake, and could see himself in the slithering creature.  The snake recognized the creator, and made a plea: “Dear Lord, I’ve been shot, and I will surely die soon… unless you save me.”  God preferred not to use his powers, but showing mercy, God bowed before the snake, and spoke, “You are a magnificent creature.”  With a strong dose of love, the snake was cured.  “Oh God, you are the giver of all life” said the snake.  The snake then humbly thanked him before clearing off of the path.

From the hilltop, the liberal had watched the whole scene.  Amazed, he began to chase after God.  At the bottom of the hill, God was gone and only the snake remained.  Seeing the snake, the liberal was scared like the conservative, but held firmly to his beliefs in acceptance and cooperation.  The liberal looked at the snake and said, “Snake, I see a liberal in you.”  He then knelt down and declared, “You are a magnificent creature.”

The snake was so grateful, that he decided to say a prayer.   “Dear God, thank you.  First you have saved my life, and now you have provided me with dinner.”

 

Becoming the future

At New American Paradigm Design we create transformation through transparency.  We believe that ethical design is not created, only uncovered.

We want to empower employees, communities, and our ecosystems and to create business models and political institutions that are strengthened by creating this context.

These businesses will be enabled through trust, transparency, and distributed decision making and will not just ‘market’ their products, but will market themselves and their vision for the future.

It’s been called many things: The Next System, the Ecological Economy, the New Economy , with various sub-aims, like triple bottom line, and protection of resources for future generations.  It doesn’t fit within our current left and right paradigms. We want to work at the intersections to find synergies, transform processes and communicate about these transformations. Communication means participating, hearing both positive and negative feedback, campaigning, and informing.  We imagine that large scale transformation toward ‘strong sustainability’ will start with a conversation about what we value and how we produce this value.

Descriptions of our Descriptions

 

The theoretical underpinnings of our work

The basic concept which we work with at New American Paradigm Design is that of a self-organizing system.  A self-organizing system like you and I are in a constant negotiation with our environment, continually drawing boundaries between who we are and who we are not; what our path is and what it is not.

Systems of all sort; biological systems, political, economic and social organizations, implement controls which define their boundaries.  Consider the immune system which has to decide on a case by case basis, which bacteria should be considered as friends and as threats.   In some cases they will be enhanced by inviting more to the party!

We can use three symbols to illustrate these divergent courses.

(1) Control; the perpetuation of boundaries. (2). Conflict; When we let down our guard, we might not like the environment’s plans for us, eg. disease (3). Integration.  This occurs when the direction of lower level entities, enhance higher level entities to truly become themselves (eg. the enhancement of the immune and digestive function through incorporation of germs, bacteria, etc..)

Economic systems and business models, currently insulate themselves from the surrounding social, political and environmental fabric through various forms of control.

In pursuit of the New American Paradigm, we specialize in achieving substantial integration.  This is as much about knowing when such integration is advantageous as it is about understanding when it is not!  It’s not ‘all good’! And failing management is not good for anyone!

Leverage points

Trust:  Trust within the workplace, within the supply chain and with consumers, is now more important than ever in a fast paced and information intensive environment. 

Ownership and Benefits: On average, employee ownership significantly increases productivity, as well as employment stability, growth and firm survival. But this is not always the case.  Context, transition method, and communication all play a huge role.

Decision making, Information sharing:  Distributing ownership is not the same as distributing decision making power and access to information. Not every team depends on distributed learning system techniques, but when they are properly implemented there can be huge rewards.

Exploring this space sometimes means looking outside of company boundaries to engage with stakeholders in the community or in the supply chain.  Again, we want to bring in new energy, when it can help us to meet our goals.

Creativity, collective purpose:  We need a collective vision for the future; for what matters to our communities our environment and our business. This starts by appreciating that which makes our work possible.

Ecological Integration:The ultimate source of energy, and controlled elements for a self-organizing system is our ecosystem and in the new economy a successful company will work with the environment instead of against it.

This means working with product design, waste management and recycling, supply chain dynamics and localization

Communication

When these changes are made advertising becomes an extension of the internal dialogue as the aims of the company fall into greater alignment with the community at large.

This is also the beginning of connecting to the political sphere.

Facilitation

In order to consider changes that we might make in any given context, we first undergo a facilitation process, inspired in particular by second-order cybernetics. Cybernetics is the study of interactions, aims, feedback and learning. What makes the design process ‘second-order’ is that we ground our practice in experience, perceived as the core of design. We understand that an idea is no better than the spark that created it.  Using techniques which cultivate ethical sensibilities, playful exploration, metaphor development, and gleaning reflection we cultivate the conditions for powerful and effective communication and design.