Third Session: Values, Mindsets and Beliefs – Human Values at a Tipping Point


13.20 Hardin Tibbs (UK): Human Values at a Tipping Point

Hardin Tibbs is CEO of Synthesys Strategic Consulting Ltd, a business futures firm in London. Hardin will talk about the shift in global values that is underway and the need for a new perspective on what it means to be human. In 2011 he published a paper forecasting an imminent tipping point in cultural values that he believes could prove decisive in the transition to sustainability. He lectures on future-related topics at a number of business schools including the Judge Business School at Cambridge University, and helped to develop the executive education scenarios programme at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University. Before founding Synthesys, Hardin was a scenario planner with Global Business Network in California.

Choosing the Next 500 Years – The Emergence of Transmodern Society is the headline that Hardin Tibbs presents us with for a start.

The limit to Growth study made in the 1970’es by MIT for the Club of Rome identified a system collapse in the beginning of the 21st century. If we look at the model today we are right at the tipping point of population, industrial output, food resources and pollution in 2012. 

“A shift in values and a shift in our use of technology is needed: sustainable use of new technology with new values. Technology can be identified as the enabler with the shift in values as the enabling factor”, claims Mr. Tibbs.

To understand what a shift in values means we must begin with a couple of definitions:

Modernisation of society covers:

  • Industrialisation
  • Economic Growth
  • Material Achievement

Which is what happened in the 20th centruy in the western world. Recently Inglehart has identified a shift in values in17 European countries toward postmaterialist values.

“I was inspired by Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point from 1987. He described how at a certain stage the major culture in a society would sink below 50% and at a certain point there after the new culture would take over and become the dominant culture.” Hardin Tibbs explains.

The modernist society was made up of Traditionalists, Modernists and a number of other smaller groups . Modernists represented more than 50% of the population and thereby was the dominant culture in the modernist society.

In the beginning of the 21st century we have seen a new sub culture forming. It is called Cultural Creatives. For these people sustainability is important; they are less interested in materialistic possessions; they have a new approach to many things in life based on being authentic; and they hold a critical view of large companies who fail to give attention to their more holistic viewpoints.

Hardin Tibss decided to try to find out if the MIT analysis from the 1970’es was right in identifying that in we are in these years very near a tipping point. He did so by using a specific software to combine a number of population analysis identifying subgroups. He found out that there is a strong indication that in 2012 the transmodern culture is set to replace modernity after the 50% crossover point, and thereby will be the dominating cultural norm in what he calls transmodern society.

The traditional mass media mostly ignores this change since the traditional media is the message board for the modernists. This indicates that the mass media is not the message medium for the new culture. The internet is. A further sign of this is the crisis that the traditional mass medias is in which acc. to Tibbs is a natural consequence of being the media of a cultural subgroup that is in decline in society, i.e. the modernists.

We are now leaving the zone of modernity and are at the frontier of transmodernity. Some of the characteristics of this frontier is that we are moving from a quantitative development o society to a qualitative development. We are striving for the sustainability revolution 

s rev

A book such as the “War of the World Views” by Chopra and Mlodinow, indicate the increasing importance of spirituality. And as such it is an example of a qualitative focus.

We are entering the design of a human-centric economy as described by Schumacher in his book. it describes social and individual sustainability as well as ecological and resource sustainability. 

Another example of this is the “Dreaming New Mexico” project which focuses on rethinkng established ways of farming, food, energy, etc.

As mentioned the internet is a key factor in the spreading of this ideas and approaches of the Cultural Creatives. And to understand how that works one can compare it to a cellular economy: it spreads by holistic replication not scaling.

For Harbin Tibbs this offers us the opportunity to regard the tipping point in 2012 as the point of maximum possibilties. It is our choice to go with the many new possibilities and make peace with nature, personal healing and a sustainable life.

My comments: I wonder if he is right and sense that I wish he is right. In a way he gives us a positive way of understanding the present world crisis. The crisis we are in the middle of is old bank procedures, old partnerships and old media falling apart because the class behind them is loosing power. That is a different view of the crisis.

If his analysis is correct it constitutes a spine of hope because every day more and more Cultural Creatives put power to their sustainable life dreams so at some point a change towards the better will start happening at a faster pace. And the internet will be the forum where we communicate, exchange, trade and negotiate.

It does reflect the attitude I meet among younger generations where they tend to just do things in a different way and not spend so much time trying to convince the olders about adopting a different approach. I wonder though when we will see a major change in the money streams in society where big cash turns sustainable. 

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