Our mission is to imagine and co-create a vision and a reality for the next era.
We exist to help bring about the transformative change that recognizes today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and crises and imagines new paths forward that are fair, sustainable, and joyful.
Our time requires a Humble Approach
Transformative change requires experimentation and humility. We need to learn from one another, and test and try based on a harmony of values and diversity of experiences.
We have evolved over the past 15 years into a self-organizing association conducting research, offering consultancy services, and hosting an alliance called Untitled that brings together artist and activist partners to experiment in co-creating futures together.
With that as our history, we have made our fair share of mistakes along the way, and learned a lot—most poignantly in moments, projects, and ideas that didn’t work out.
We are a curious and ever-evolving think tank, and in today’s world, that means being constantly faced with re-calibrating ourselves. Despite the fast changes around us, our work must still reflect our aim and urgency. It is a practice. We struggle at times, and fail, and embed those learnings into our understanding of what is needed next. That is what the humble approach is about. It is about knowing that you don’t know. Even when your job, literally, is to know.
Yes, you read that right. In a world where everything is changing so fast, it is pointless to claim a status of expertise. After all, alone, we know nothing.
That is why we are sharing our humble approach. It is not the beginning or the end of the discussion, but we have seen how it supports leaders, organizations, governments, and businesses who want to thrive in an era of uncertainty.
Humility can define the next era of governance and leadership
Our current systems require us to first know and then act. However, in the 21st century, we must accept that there is a lot we don’t know, and so we have to act as we learn.
Our very personal experience with this inspired us to create a governance model that both enables and depends on humility. We called it Humble Government. We worked with Prof. Charles Sabel, from Columbia Law School, and built on his experimentalist government theory.
Our Humble Government model contributes to the essential evolution of governance, policymaking, and all kinds of leadership. It is a tested model that:
- creates incentives for democratic collaboration,
- enables governments to rebuild political and societal trust, and
- makes it possible to realize ambitious reforms despite uncertainty and polarization.
You can download the paper here.
You can download a one-page summary here.
Does this work?
We are invigorated by the increased momentum towards citizen-centered policies that put those most impacted at the heart of the process. In parallel, the calls are growing louder for alternative measures of economic health (replacing GDP growth) like the Economy of Wellbeing. Moreover, the pandemic showed us how little we actually know and can prepare for when dealing with unknown challenges. Meanwhile, the solemn cloud of our climate crisis lingers firmly above our heads; the biggest unknown challenge of them all cannot be solved through fragmented expertise.
All around us, the fundamentals of the existing system are questioned and in some cases, overthrown. This work begins with working differently, by sharing power, by learning from others, by holding space for voices that have largely hitherto been excluded.
Above all, humility is about listening, collaborating, and learning. Embedding these values in governance can lead to exemplary success. For example:
- The Montreal Protocol was a landmark multilateral environmental agreement that served to protect the earth’s ozone layer from harmful, man-made chemicals.
- The success of the Finnish Education system depended on the empowerment of educators to work within the general parameters of the curriculum with their own personal interests and those of the students at the center.
We are testing this method in a number of areas and in different sectors.
We are very excited about this work and hope that we will be able to report on its outcomes soon. More importantly, we are excited to have you with us on this journey.
You can always get in touch with us to discuss questions, ideas, or comments:
+55 61 981502888
Lead, Governance Innovation
+358 40 778 6062
Feature Image: Matt Mitchell / Demos Helsinki