Can Europe’s complexity become Europe’s strength?

by Dr. Martin Pfiffner, Senior Partner Malik Institut St. Gallen

Europe is in torment. It is currently going through the greatest transformation phase in its history. Not many things will be the same by 2030 as they are today. The financial, economical, social, political, technical and environmental challenges and changes are enormous. And they are mirrored in the huge complexity of Europe’s sheer amount of countries, characterized by different cultures, languages, religions, legal systems, political systems, histories etc. and each facing their own overwhelming challenges for the next decades. Achievements of the past like the introduction of the European currency may well produce the perils of the future as they made the countries more dependent on each other than ever before – in a more unstable environment than ever before.

Solutions can be found. But only if we apply the right methods and models to produce them. Solutions for todays problems, cannot be found by applying the same methods that produced them in the past. And they will not be found by copying American flavoured management methods and models like it happened  in the past so often, which turn out to be reductionistic approaches that may or may not work in America but definitively not in Europes high complexity environment.

Europe’s must re-discover its own strength which lies precisely in this complexity and the well rooted ability to cope with it. As it turns a challenge into a strength, if one becomes able to cope with complexity, because higher abilities generally only arise from more complexity. “Keep it simple” has never and will never work for Europe. European leaders always had to deal with difference and variety.

Solutions will specifically be found through the application of Cybernetics – the science of making complex things work – not only in the area of technology as we have seen it in the past with enormous success, but also in the social domain of making societies and organizations work. Cybernetics is the generic science of control and communication that has laid the foundation for the information age. It can be applied to any arena where complex social organizations need to do a job and need to function better therefore, be it Europe in general, the European Union in specific, or any business or non-business organization.

In the past decades, society learned how to apply methods to amplify energy and physical strengths of man. In the next decade, societies will have to learn to amplify their intelligence. The Syntegration format, in which the European Future Leaders Conference will be delivered, is one of these cybernetic intelligence-amplifying methods for the future. The re-discovery of the European “Coping with Complexity”-Management Style in general and specifically the wide application of cybernetic approaches as the Syntegration will turn Europes challenge into Europes strengths. Whatever the visions of Europe 2030 might be, they will be realized only on this route: It’s a condition sine qua non!

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