So Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller is quoted as saying in 1999. Bucky Fuller was a remarkable man, an architect and systems thinker, who coined the term “Spaceship Earth,” and popularised the geodesic dome, amongst other things. Concomitantly, more than sixty years earlier he had advise, “don’t fight forces, use them.”
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Buckminster Fuller and geodesic dome
Fuller’s observations remain as relevant today as when they were uttered. I watch as activists fight against systems, rally for causes, or decry the public decision-makers (a.k.a. politicians). Yet, things don’t change, at least not greatly. Are we falling into the trap that Fuller warns against? I suggest we have.
If we step away from fighting the existing reality, then what sort of model do we want to build? Perhaps, more importantly, how do we build it?
Perhaps the first thing to discover about a new model is that it looks nothing like the one we presently have. Therefore, we may not even know what it will look like when we have finished building it. Indeed, we will never finish building it. Or, if we do, it will then become the model that future generations will want to make obsolete.
This new model will be something like putting together a jigsaw. There is no Master Jigsaw Director. I remember sitting around a table with the rest of my family putting a jigsaw together. No-one directed how the pieces were fitted together. Each of us picked up a piece and attempted to find a place for it to fit. If we found that place, we would combine it with the pieces already there. If we could not find a place, we didn’t despair, we just put that piece aside and picked up another piece.
It didn’t matter if one person worked on the sky, another on the people in the foreground, and yet another on the hills in the distance. As we progressed the jigsaw came together, piece by piece.
I suspect that a process like that will be how the new model gets built. All of us have a piece to offer, all of us have a part to play. No-one can be shut out of the process. If we stop to think of how this new model is to be built, we will discover some features of the process, including:
- a tolerance for all those involved in building the model,
- recognising that all of us have skills, ideas, knowledge, and understandings to offer,
- creating non-hierarchical decision-making processes,
- focusing clearly on what we do want, not what we don’t want,
- being present and accepting what is happening here and now,
- practising creative listening skills,
- being willing to engage with those with differing views,
- perseverance, building the model simply because it seems the right thing to do.
That’s just a few. I would be keen to hear from readers what else would be involved in how we build the model.