The future of our institutions

Last Thursday, I attended a conference at Bozar, organised as part of its centinary festivities. The topic : the future of the cultural institutions.

This event allows me to shed light on the direction we could take to design an attractive model for the world. Inspired by this talk, and previous conversations we held in Together-Ensemble, the main pillars would be:

  • Soft more caring leadership

To be seen as acceptable leaders, future institutions need to develop a culture of caring and fairness, internally as well as externally. The EU should find its own way of leadership (science-led, compassion, inclusive), not the American way nor the Chinese way but the European way of leadership in a multipolar world. The social European way needs to be encouraged much more and promoted. Emotions and feelings need to be part of a new much less bureaucratic and spontaneous / emergent reality, supported with collaborative tools and heading towards a common benevolent framework for actions.

  • Less dependency

Institutions need to find other financing models, embrace transparency and methods to reduce their dependencies of any kind, to reduce the perception of privilege, and inequality. We need stronger mechanisms to protect their integrity to not be seen as hypocritical. And we have to focus on reducing the perception of injustice towards certain more vulnerable categories, and on representing the voices of all.

  • More collaboration and communities

We need to leverage much more the potential of communities, in particular those eager to make the changes we want to see (peace, well-being, nuance, critical thinking,…). But also to develop a “unique selling point”, through the capacity to facilitate collaboration at small and large scales and a culture of partnerships. And this implies a huge change of mindset from command & control to connect & collaborate, that is not to be underestimated. We saw how much this needs a proper ambitious programme of systems change. Collaboration is on everyone’s lips, it’s time to put it in everyone’s hands.

  • More simplicity

There seems to be a disconnect between what the institutions aim to achieve and what they really achieve. Having easier organisations, committed to increased simplicity will allow us to rapidly and directly tackle urgent problems (poverty, climate, democracy…). No more blabla, unnecessary sophistication and jargon, we need more informal and regular conversations with the periphery, and a follow-up culture (which implies looking at simplifying considerably the processes but also moving towards more authentic and vulnerable attitudes). There is no need anymore to defend “why” we exist. The focus should be on “how” we exist in the lives of peoples. We need a clear vision, priorities and tangible local actions that make a difference in people’s lives.

  • More harmony

Be careful, though, simplicity does not mean linear mindset or moving towards a unique restrictive identity that constrains action. If we need clear and simple outputs, magic as well as beauty will come through embracing and respecting our chaotic nature, instead of moving away from it. This is why essential balances, holistic dialectical thinking, an ability to un-lead, as well as harmony need to be part of the equation. What we want is to ensure followership around one goal: growing an exceptional civilisation, master of its own destiny, for example.

  • More imagination

Finally, it seems impossible to think of this future without having in mind the extraordinary power of innovations, in particular to instill hope and fun to address all mega challenges. Mixed reality, gaming or blockchains will play a huge role to incentivize the change of behaviours required to achieve the ambitious agenda.

  • More sustainability

I could not forget how increasingly aware we have become on the consequences of our actions. Each of them has – that we want it or not – impact on the health of the planet. Therefore it is the role of the Institutions to adopt a systemic approach to ensure sustainability is inherent to every future decisions.

This article (in French) published in L’Echo comes back on this inspiring event organised on Thursday 31 March. I am very grateful to be given this opportunity to join what I see as an important collective debate. And do not forget the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe.

Photo by Ali Pazani on Pexels.com

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