29 Global Risks

Our modern world faces several major problems.

The 2016 edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report, for example, lists 29 major global risks to be faced over the next ten years.

Few of them are new, yet year after year we seem unable to address or resolve them. Instead, as the report says, they are getting worse: “the likelihood of most risks has grown this year compared to last.”

Why is this? Why, despite all our technology, our economic growth, our globalisation, are these risks increasing not decreasing?


Gregory Bateson — An Unusual Man, An Unusual Career

BatesonGregory Bateson (1904-1980) was an unusual man who chose a varied and interesting career. His work took him from understanding human language, the language of dolphins and orcas, to anthropology, psychology, social science, cybernetics and ultimately saw him becoming one of the founders of systems thinking.

At first sight these fields might seem very different, but with hindsight they formed emerging steps along the core thread of his life’s work.

What was that thread? To me the single quote that encapsulates it best is this:

“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” — Gregory Bateson

What Bateson saw was that there is a difference between the way people think and the way nature works. And that this difference is responsible for the major problems there are in the world.


A Way Forward

The intent of this website is review key parts of Gregory Bateson’s work from an early 21st Century perspective, and to draw practical lessons that business leaders and others can apply to their situations.

By simplifying and reframing Bateson’s key messages the intention is to bring them into sharp relief and to make them applicable.

At best this will provide insights that enable us to resolve the issues we face. At worst it will enable us to reframe our situations to identify the key priorities for coping with, adapting to, or mitigating the issues we face.

This practically-focused outcome will become easier to achieve if we first add one small missing link to what Bateson said.

You might also find it useful to review some examples of how the kinds of changes in understanding and thinking I am talking about have proved useful in the past.

The best place to start is then the Contents List.