Is the world saved yet?

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The world needs saving, so I went to the people who would hold the answers. I went to work for Supers Inc and for a while I slept a little better. I thought, rather naively “I’ve joined the good guys now, the ones who’ll fix this mess. So if I just do my job the best that I can, then the world will be saved…right?”

Three years on and it looks like the apocalypse is still bang on, or even ahead, of schedule. (Video from last month, 8-May-14)

At Supers Inc, my job is to draw out the plans and when it comes to the work of changing the world we talk about it in 18 month or 3 year campaigns. 10 year strategies to really achieve change. When they explain this all to me, I nod and listen.

“Changing the world takes grit. It takes determination. It takes time.”

So I write down the dates down, fill in the plans that extend a neat black line out to the far-right of the page and in my head I want to scream. “We’re screwed!”

I feel like the spoiled kid when I think this. A teenager in the back of the car, strapped down in my seat belt and writhing uncomfortably. Asking again.

“Are we nearly there yet?”

No. Comes the answer from the weary heads eyes fixed on the road ahead. The superheroes, who have been fighting for “the cause” their whole lives.

“No, the world isn’t saved yet.” They reply. “It always needs saving.”

The time inside the car moves slowly, but outside I see the road signs flit pass my window. The days and years flying past, whilst the markings of another carefully drawn plan are discarded on a pile on the floor.

I can’t help but feel we’re using the planning modes of an outdated era. A list of orders to be handed off and executed on. A set of specification documents to be written and re-written, signed-off and passed over the wall.  A plan within a complex world that doesn’t bend to risk logs.

Instead, perhaps the business of saving the world could learn from the perspectives of a start-up model and culture.

3 Reasons Why Saving the World is Like a Start-up

1. We are creating something “new under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” (para-phased Eric Reiss)

2. Engaging people to change the world requires “an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable change model.” (bastardised Steve Blank)

3. An endeavour that is designed to grow fast (re-applied Paul Graham)

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