Cultural Maturity

A feed from Cultural Maturity—A Blog for the Future that brings mature, big-picture perspective to the important questions of our time. It is a contribution of the Institute for Creative Development, a Seattle-based, non-profit, non-partisan, think tank and center for advanced leadership training. It is designed to support the sophistication of understanding and decision-making needed if we are to have a vital and creative human future.

21 November 2016. The U.S. Presidential Election: Reflections From the Perspective of Cultural Maturity – Colleagues have asked if I would write something in response to Donald Trump’s Presidential election win. I’ve waited until some of the initial dust settled. But reflection at this point feels important. I’ll offer three sorts of big-picture observations that might prove useful. They concern 1) why we saw what we did, 2) likely consequences, and 3) how culturally mature possibilities can best be supported going forward. The short version: While we tend to think of election results in terms of political allegiances—political right versus political left—this result had more to do with broad changes taking place in the country and the world. Much in these changes will be ultimately positive, but for now they often result in uncertainty, dislocation, and a felt loss of control. And where there have […]

19 November 2016. Cultural Maturity: A Snapshot – The long-form article that follows this one more formally introduces the concept of Cultural Maturity. It makes a solid place to start for understanding this critical notion that can initially be a stretch to get one’s mind around. I wrote this “snapshot” description in response to requests to do an even briefer introductory piece that might be more appropriate for use by the media.  My contribution is different from that of most people who describe themselves as futurists. My primary focus lies not so much with technological advancement than with the human dimension. I might best be described as a “cultural psychiatrist.” One observation from my years of wearing the cultural psychiatrist’s hat particularly stands out. Not only do critical challenges require new perspectives and human capacities, the new abilities […]

1 November 2016. Looking Out Twenty to Fifty Years: An Extended View Helps Put Cultural Maturity’s Challenge in Perspective – In an earlier post that looked at the concept of Cultural Maturity’s big-picture significance, I briefly described a recent recognition that provides insight important to effective culturally mature advocacy. As I’ve finished up my new three book series and begun to engage a broader audience, I’ve been confronted with how often even basic understandings— understandings that will be critical to going forward—remain ahead of their time. I’ve had to come to grips with how, depending on the issue, having a critical mass of people able to successfully apply culturally mature perspective may often be ten, twenty, thirty, or even fifty years away. This recognition has been made more inescapable of late by the extreme absurdity of so much that is going on in the world right now—particularly in the political […]

5 October 2016. Understanding the Significance of Cultural Maturity and the Ideas of Creative Systems Theory—Current Perspective –   (This is a lengthy piece. But it is particularly important for the perspective it provides.) I formally introduced the concept of Cultural Maturity and the basic ideas of Creative Systems Theory over forty years ago. In the years since, I and colleagues have worked to fill out these notions and train leaders in their application. The larger portion of my most recent work has focused on making these notions accessible to a broader audience. These efforts have included three new books—Hope and the Future, Culture Maturity, and Quick and Dirty Answers to the Biggest of Questions—along with a series of five educational websites and the Cultural Maturity Blog. These further efforts have added new clarity, depth, and detail to work that had already made a major contribution. They have […]

1 October 2016. Seven Questions On Which Our Future Depends—Perspective From a Different Kind of Futurist – I approach the future differently than most people whose work addresses what may lie ahead. Most futurists focus on new technologies, or possibly on obstacles that might present themselves in our efforts at technological advancement. I see the questions on which our future most depends to be of a more expressly human sort. With regard to new technologies, for example, the critical question ultimately is whether we can find the maturity needed to use what we invent—whatever that might be—wisely. The most important questions ahead have to do with ourselves, with the sophistication we are able to bring to how we understand and act. I think of the ability to address such questions in terms a more encompassing challenge. We tend to look on modern age institutions and ways of […]

7 September 2016. Beyond the Cynicism Trap: A Friend Confronts the Very Real Possibility of Human Extinction – Culturally mature perspective challenges us to ask big questions and also makes it more possible to do so. This greater sophistication comes from how such perspective helps us frame questions in larger, more systemic ways. (My book Quick and Dirty Answers to the Biggest of Questions examines this particular implication of Cultural Maturity’s changes.) But tolerating the answers such perspective suggests can ask a lot of us. The work of a valued friend and colleague provides a great illustration. It helps us in a couple of important ways. It highlights how difficult it can be to get essential “big picture” questions acknowledged. It also demonstrates how much of a stretch making full sense of possible answers can be even for someone experienced at doing so … and committed to doing […]

16 August 2016. Making the World Great Again: Bringing Big-Picture Perspective to the American Presidential Election and the Critical Tasks of Leadership Going Forward. – Watching the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions motivates me to step back for some big-picture reflections on the challenges that a next U.S. president must confront. Ultimately my reflections expand to the larger question of how we best think about the leadership challenges currently confronting humanity as a whole. Republicans at their convention framed current conditions negatively, in terms of danger and collapse. As far as the cause of these perceived circumstances, they blamed a described eight years of failed Democratic leadership. They proposed that the task ahead is to “make America great again.” The Democrats did not deny that we face major concerns, but they chose to emphasize steps already taken and to describe an America that is “already great.” People who are familiar with my work know that […]

28 July 2016. Why Science and Religion Need Not Be At Odds: A Brief Look at How Creative Systems Theory Reconciles this Most Fundamental of Conflicts – [The following reflections are adapted from two of my most recent books: Cultural Maturity: A Guidebook for the Future and Quick and Dirty Answers to the Biggest of Questions.] The concept of Cultural Maturity proposes that the reason many ultimate questions have before left us baffled is not because they are inherently difficult, but because answering them requires that we think in ways that we are only now becoming capable of. When we bring the needed maturity of systemic perspective to bear, answers to such questions become newly available. Indeed they become straightforward—even common sense (see Common Sense 2.0). The conflicting views of science and religion present a particularly intriguing and consequential such ultimate question. Most crudely the question asks, Which interpretation is right?  The better question might be, How […]

14 June 2016. “Come On” Stephen Hawking: The Quandary of Free Will In an Apparently Deterministic Universe – Physicist Stephen Hawking introduces his recent series on public television, Genius, with the claim that he will show how ordinary people, just by looking closely, can make sense of ultimate questions. I applaud the effort. Much in the series provides useful information. And I have immense respect for Hawking’s contributions to physics. But I have frequently been disappointed. Often, I have found myself responding “Come On, Stephen. You can do better than that.” The series stops short in a couple of ways. First, it is in fact less about how ordinary people can address ultimate questions than about how contemporary physics answers such questions. His participants are lead by the hand to reach predetermined conclusions—a common failing with science education. And there is a second, more fundamental and consequential shortcoming. […]

4 June 2016. Evidence for Cultural Maturity’s Necessary—and Newly Possible—”Growing Up” As a Species – If we are to confidently draw on the concept of Cultural Maturity, it is essential that we have solid evidence for its conclusions. If accurate, the concept could not be more important. It claims to provide a new guiding narrative, a story for the future that brings needed perspective—and wisdom—to making critical decisions. In addition, it proposes that effectively addressing essential challenges before us will require skills and capacities new to us as a species, skills and capacities that we can practice. If these conclusions hold true, the kind of perspective the concept provides has major significance. Solid evidence is also essential because what the concept of Cultural Maturity describes is appropriately seen as radical. It stretches usual understanding in fundamental ways. The concept starts off by challenging an assumption […]