Let’s do a little thought experiment comparing America in 2013 and 1775:
In 1775, Americans were extremely frustrated by their political system that simply did not work. To fix it, many called for reforms to the existing system, like demanding Americans have representatives in the English Parliament. Others called for revolution that would rebuild the new governing system from scratch. We all know how that, thankfully, turned out.
In 2013, Americans are extremely frustrated by their political system that in many ways does not work. To fix it, an increasing number of people are calling for reforms to the current system, like a constitutional amendment getting corporate money out of elections. Almost no one is calling for a reinvention that would create a fundamentally different governing system optimized for the 21st century and beyond.
This roundtable on Reinventing Governance will.
Mars, it is. That was the conclusion of this fascinating, high-minded but very abstract conversation on the future of governance that started in the public Reinvent Governance roundtable and then carried on over private email.
I’ll get to Mars later, but start with the presentation by Jordan Greenhall, a brainy tech entrepreneur who also served on the board of the Santa Fe Institute, known for its cutting edge work in complexity theory.
For those who had the background in design and systems thinking to follow his opening presentation, it was a tour-de-force. (For those without the theoretical underpinning, some of the concepts might have been hard to track.)
Jordan took the challenge of the roundtable seriously: In 1775, Americans opted not to reform the existing Colonial governance system but to build a new system from scratch using the best thinking and tools of that time. What could Americans today do if we set aside efforts to reform our current system and built one from scratch?