CIIC, 26 September 2015, Auckland

Participants decided to pick up the thread from the last CIIC unconference around the following two related questions:

  1. How do we need to redefine economic progress?
  2. What is value?

To initiate the discussion, Alan Miles presented a synopsis of an excellent article on values that he had written following the unconference in June 2015.

value-through-collaboration

Participants agreed that on the one hand values systems are highly personal and may vary significantly from individual to individual, and that on the other hand the social and cultural factors identified by Alan (philosophy, psychology, religion, politics, economics, engineering) have a significant influence.

Jorn Bettin used the domain of sailing to illustrate how an over-simplified language and a one-dimensional measure for progress can lead to a highly distorted “understanding” of a complex system, which prevents any real progress from the perspectives of the agents within the system.

A search for a small set of universal values with the potential to transcend the values generated by differences in cultural context initially led to the following three values:

  1. appreciating diversity = playing with variants and learning about variants
    
=> potential for innovation
  2. engaging in collaboration = playing and learning with others
    => potential for scale
  3. transparent governance = making cultural knowledge accessible for validation
    => potential for trust and shared understanding

An appreciation for diversity leads to mutual respect across different value systems, and in combination with the innate human capacity for playing and learning, leads to potential innovations. Engaging in collaboration, and tapping into the innate human instinct for collaboration, enables complementary sets of knowledge to be combined, and allows the impact of potential innovations to be amplified and scaled. Transparent governance ensures that cultural knowledge and potential innovations are accessible to the public, available for critical analysis and validation.

All participants recognised that the highly competitive ideology that underpins financial economics represents a major challenge in raising the profile of these universal values. Felicity Lawrence pointed the discussion towards W. Edwards Deming’s deadly diseases of management, and to the complete lack of progress in terms of reducing the incidence of these diseases over the last 30 years. She illustrated the role of values in translating a vision and purpose into concrete actions in the following diagram:

From vision to actions
From vision to actions

Complex hierarchical management structures represent a major difficulty in the translation of vision and purpose into actions that achieve progress at ground level. Jorn explained that the 5-sector language for economic discourse that was introduced at the inaugural CIIC unconference in June 2015 is a language framework. The five components of the framework directly map to concrete activities in the biosphere, grounded in physical reality, without any spurious levels of indirection or over-simplification.

The role of culture in the 5 sector language framework
The role of culture in the 5 sector language framework

The 5-sector language framework is a useful tool for eliminating undesirable complexity, and for evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of potential innovations.

As part of the discussions, the group realised that individual privacy is another core value with the potential to transcend differences in cultural context in a constructive way.

The result is a draft set of universal values that should prove useful in evaluating concrete opportunities for interdisciplinary innovation in future CIIC unconferences.

  1. appreciating diversity = playing with variants and learning about variants
    
=> potential for innovation
  2. engaging in collaboration = playing and learning with others
    => potential for scale
  3. transparent governance = making cultural knowledge accessible for validation
    => potential for trust and shared understanding
  4. protecting individual privacy = providing individuals with the ability to express themselves selectively
    => prevention of discrimination and exploitation

A good foundation for further open space collaboration.

Future participants are also encouraged to explore the results from the inaugural CIIC unconference in June 2015.