Social impact critical mass
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
It’s an insightful, fascinating and at times, terrifying account of the evolution of humans from pre-historic times, through the agricultural revolution, industrial revolution and into the science and technological revolutions.
Apart from feeling occasionally distraught about how we have come to a position where we feel that we own the world, I’ve enjoyed the dispassionate discourse and thorough examination of the history from all angles, not just one of judgement.
One of the biggest takeaways from this book, I feel, is what lies at the heart of our progression through all the stages – storytelling and creativity. And, despite knowing how important this is, I’d never given any thought as to how crucial this particular activity has been for every new phase of our historical existence in engaging humans in change en masse.
Storytelling and creativity are at the crux of everything. Human society and culture are made up of such complex systems and concepts, most of which are completely intangible and exist only in our collective imagination.
For example, from the book, take the concept of the Corporation. Daily we all interact with hundreds of organisations and have a firm belief that they tangibly exist. They may make products that we can hold. They may have people who work for them. They may own property. But, although companies may be legal entities, they only exist because collectively we have bought into the story that created them.
All our societies and cultures, systems and processes are creative stories that humans have compiled to make order and sense of our existence. Whatever the concepts, whether they are religions, corporations, traditions, authorities or any other way that humans have organised themselves, they simply don’t exist without being supported and believed in by enough people.
This is great news if you’re an organisation that wants to have a positive social impact or change the world. By creating stories of impact and sharing your concepts widely for long enough periods, and gathering like-minded collaborators who add to the imagined reality that you want to create, you can help to generate a new way of doing things that can turn the tide.
Through our powerful imagination we have the ability to rally people to causes that can help shift the needle on what is appropriate and acceptable human behaviour around how we treat other humans, animals and our planet.
And, if you can support the stories you are creating with statistics and research, another great human invention, you can successfully persuade people to change.
This isn’t a new concept by any means. If you read Sapiens, you’ll see that story creation is almost as old as mankind itself. And, certainly, since the industrial revolution, organisations and governments have been the storytellers that have shaped our capitalist world.
So, to use this powerful tool to establish the concepts of equality, tolerance, shared wealth and environmental sustainability seems not only fair, but essential.
If you would like help crafting your story to shift behaviour, contact us today.