Some months back, Dennis Meadows – a renowned Systems Dynamist and author of ‘Limits to Growth’ (1972), visited our organization and spoke with us about the future of oil. Recently I’ve been referring back to his presentation, and especially to the series of three graphs shown here and illustrating easy problems, hard problems and how hard problems become easy with greater time horizon. These graphs make great sense to me. My question is: How can we most effectively influence decision-makers in expanding time horizons – often beyond their term of office? This is a hard sell, particularly because we often see things get worse before they get better.
I come back to an earlier post in which I wrote about theories of change and concluded that the knowledge → behaviour change theory is not a universal truth (as many smokers, people working on climate change and many others will know only too well). How do we help prepare people to go ‘cold turkey’ for the sake of better longer term health – whether of us as individuals, as institutions or societies, or for the sake of the health of the planet?