Calling on the Crowd for Wisdom

January 2011

[The following article was submitted to Ode Magazine but never published to the author’s knowledge]

New times require new leaders. Old models and techniques are outmoded in these times of accelerated learning, widespread information, rapid change and compressing time windows. Hierarchy is outmoded. Continuing to think about leadership in terms of the past is obsolete. We need to start allowing our desired future pull us forward.

We are entering the age of collaboration. If we don’t embrace it with willingness and openness to do things together we may well be on our way to irreversibly destroying the life support system that allows us the privilege of living on this beautiful Earth.

When most people were uninformed and uneducated, we needed educated leaders who could intelligently point the way. But now, most of us in the industrialized world are informed and educated. What’s missing now is not know-how; it is courage and passion for a great dream. What’s missing today is wisdom and resolve to bring that dream into reality.

We now know more collectively than any one person can possibly know. We now have the collective wisdom to transcend the existing “human condition,” reverse all the negative trends and accelerate the positive ones. This will require working together, with all our differences, all our diversity.

Six and a half billion of us and no two of us are exactly the same. What a miracle! Each of us is a true original. Our differences are our strength, not a flaw.

The wisdom we find in diverse, non-hierarchical groups tells us we all have something positive to contribute to the future. The “wisdom of crowds” often yields wiser decisions than relying on “panels of experts” – the old way. Each of us has a unique gift to offer, a contribution only we can make to our conscious evolution. While it may not be practical to poll the “group conscience” or subject ourselves to the possibility of anarchy with no leaders whatsoever, we are creative enough to come up with a new way of thinking and start seeing leadership as the responsibility of us all, not just selected rulers. This is a new way to look at leadership and the wisdom that flows from it.

Scratch your inner cynic and you’ll probably find that disillusioned idealist who buried your dreams when you tasted bitter disappointment earlier in your life. Unless we unleash those suppressed idealists and envision a better world, the world as we now know it will continue to devolve to the lowest common denominator. The system will continue to rule us and we will find ourselves continuing to follow its bidding. Remember, we invented the system and we can change or reinvent it.

Let us all wake up that “pragmatic idealist” that resides deep within us. Humanity needs our idealism. There’s no doubt it is pragmatic. What could be more practical than maintaining a healthy environment for human beings?

Let us awaken to the fact that we created the system to serve us, not the other way around. Dare to dream again! Declare your vision for a world that is sustainable, just and fulfilling for all and, then, stand up for that vision. When enough of us proclaim our vision publicly and take stands for that vision, things will get better. I promise it.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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