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Ever had one of those moments when you’re confronted with the reality you are only a tiny part of a massive picture, but that you’d come to believe what you could see was really all that existed? They are a reminder that across human history and many cultures, our species has developed innumerable ways of being in the universe and of responding to the challenges that brings. I find those moments in reading books like Harari’s ‘Sapiens’ or Bregman’s ‘Humankind’, sometimes in talking to people and realising how different our understandings and wishes are. If you have experienced this, you’ll probably know that these revelations are exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. They question everything and answer everything at the same time.


I think provoking these ‘bubble-bursting’ moments for ourselves and others is an essential part of inclusion work, creating real breakthroughs for individuals in raising awareness and openness. Currently though, I’m more concerned with how whole organisations can lift their heads and take in the wider perspective, realise that ‘our modern systems’ are but a speck in the history and geography of human collaboration, that there are / have been many other ways to organise and that we have much to learn from them.


For example, our (that is 21st century, Western) economic and organisational structures are built on the premise that people require EXTRINSIC motivation; they will only act when offered reward or threatened with punishment – the good old carrot and stick approach - arising from the philosophical standpoint that human beings are essentially selfish and lazy. It’s such ‘common sense’, it can blind us to thinking that there could be other ways, such as those based on promoting people’s INTRINSIC motivation: doing it for the love of it – arising from this crazy notion that human beings are actually caring creatures who enjoy being productive. It is this latter view that has predominated across human time and place and one that we need to re-discover today.


If you’d like to burst a few bubbles, I can recommend:


Googling the word ‘Buurtzorg’ to see Jos de Blok’s work on unleashing intrinsic motivation in a Dutch Healthcare company.


Reading ‘Humankind’ by Rutger Bregman

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