With Obama as the first black president in history, we thought we had made progress. Now, with a bullying Donald Trump elected into the world’s most powerful position, did we just go back a century in time?
I did not expect this could actually happen. But then, I didn’t think the British people would vote to leave the European Union, either.
For the past days, I have spoken to friends from around the world, retreated, to make sense of this outcome.
To my own surprise, I came to the conclusion that it might not make sense to fight the election of Donald Trump – or maybe even impeach him (although I’m sure it would be really exciting).
We are facing a much broader issue. Right-wing tendencies are growing all around the globe: in Turkey, Germany, France, The Netherlands, and the UK. The election of Donald Trump may be the most daunting and far-reaching, but ultimately it is yet another signal of the deeper issue we are facing.
What finally bubbles to the surface is that people are dissatisfied – angry. As a matter of fact: they are really pissed off with the existing status quo – with the existing political system, which seems unable to change the current status quo no matter who’s in office. If Hillary Clinton would have won the election, other people would march the streets.
We have reached a point where voting for another party will not make the difference so many want to see. Dr. Adizes explains in his recent blog why this is the case: it occurs when organizations or countries have past their prime and are headed for destruction. He explains the point that – along the typical life cycle of organizations and countries – the United States are past their prime. At that particular stage, every leader is fought and rejected, whether their name is Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders.
At this stage of America’s life cycle, exchanging figureheads at the top who then propose new policies or laws cannot anymore create the change so many of us hope for. At this stage, a systemic change in the way we govern our country and our organizations is required. To stop the progress towards increasing bureaucracy and destruction, and to go back to a healthy mode of innovation, creativity and actualization, requires an upgrade to a new operating system of governance – not just a modification of the existing one.
From Ego-Centric to Eco-Centric
Otto Scharmer argues in his recent Huffington Post article “On The Making Of Trump – The Blind Spot That Created Him” that this systemic change requires a shift from silo-thinking (ego-centric) to a collective-thinking (eco-centric): first and foremost a shift in consciousness.
Just consider for a moment how our governments, organizations, and personal lives would change if we could make the shift in below graphic.
This large-scale change usually doesn’t happen without friction or resistance. Existing “leaders” will do everything to keep their power, existing structures and thinking in place. However, as unpleasant as it is, Donald Trump might actually accelerate this transition. All across the US, people are awake – out of their comfort zone. Hit with a two-by-four, ready to come together and make a change. This is an opportunity we need to harness; not to get Trump out of office, but to initiate this more fundamental, systemic change.
Take Apple: when the company was going south under the leadership of Gil Amelio, it lost its innovative spirit, became bureaucratic, and mainstream. Apple slowly decayed – until Steve Jobs re-entered. He didn’t “do the same thing different”. He fundamentally changed the way Apple was governed.
What To Do
We are facing the same challenge: to come together and usher in a new paradigm – a new operating system – of how we govern our countries, our business, our educational systems, and even ourselves. To make this happen, every one of us will need to play their part and take the lead.
We have implemented this kind of system in business teams. We know it works. Now, it’s time for all of us to come together to upgrade the way we work, live, and decide. In the words of Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”