A thriving, fair, evolving, resilient human society which engenders the wellbeing of all its members while functioning in sustainable and regenerative harmony with our beautiful living planet.
Many of Earth’s ecosystems and the infrastructure and systems we have built on top of them are stressed and cascading to failure. Worse, many of our attempts to fix social and environmental problems simply don’t work any more, because the things we believe we know how to do only patch up the symptoms of much deeper systemic “wicked” problems.
The term “wicked problem” is generally used to describe a problem which, due to complex interdependencies, is very difficult or even impossible to understand, let alone solve. And the truth is, within the constraints of our current worldviews and the institutions we’ve created based on those worldviews, problems this complex ARE impossible to solve. If we’re going to make any headway with wicked problems, we have to find a way to work with them according to their nature: complex, interdependent, systemic, and impacting on reality in ways far beyond the awareness, understanding, or action capability of any one organisation.
To deal with wicked problems, we need a new, better paradigm, which works for all of us, not just some of us, for the whole planet, not just parts of it, and for future generations, not just the present ones. Discovering and developing this new paradigm is an enormous challenge, but it is one we must confront, and delve into deeply, if we are to make it through to the future we want.
Praxorium’s mission is to provide an action learning ecosystem which can support humanity in developing and applying the collective intelligence and the new paradigm we need in order to tackle these wicked problems.
We’re experimenting with opening our doors to all and encouraging each other to interact in alignment and integrity with values that support our mission:
- focus our efforts on whole systems and life needs
- continuously reflect on and aim to see outside the boxes we’ve been trained in
- dig down to find first principles and hidden assumptions
- listen deeply for truth, and prioritise truth over ego
- foster the best possible information, intelligence and imagination
- achieve real change and continuous learning and feedback through praxis in the real world
Everything is open to question
All systems, stories and frameworks are open to question. Praxorium itself has operating assumptions, principles and values, but none are to be treated as beyond question or incontrovertibly true.
Scientific evidence is highly regarded but is not a prerequisite for speculation. What we regard as scientific evidence is core to our existing paradigm, and as such, may provide little more than guiding lights in the liminal space of discovering a new paradigm suited to dealing with wicked problems. Scientific evidence answers old questions; we’re examining new ones.
There are no panaceas
Wicked problems have no manuals, best practices, panaceas or ultimate solution. Dealing with them is a process.
We can’t even assume that we fully understand what the “problem” is, because we may not have any means of sensing or understanding the whole system. Rather, we have to proceed with the humility of recognising that we don’t know everything, and while planning is important, we cannot ever have a fully developed plan to get us from A to Z. The process, rather, is probe-sense-respond.
Questions are the focal point
We are searching for truth, but facts and solutions and answers are not at the centre of the Praxorium ecosystem. Questions help us to continually focus and refocus our sense-making and our thinking, which is what we need to do when operating in complexity.
The map is not the territory
– Alfred Korzybski
Models and frameworks can be very useful when applied in appropriate contexts, but they are not the purpose of the Praxorium ecosystem either. Reality always takes precedence over models.
The classifications we use to match and mismatch and partition information into chunks, and to abstract patterns into concepts we can manipulate, do not exist in the natural world any more than lines drawn on a map to denote borders between countries impact on the natural world. Such classifications (e.g. ideological viewpoints, institutions, academic disciplines) can be useful but the psychological boxes they divide reality into are not real. We need to remember this in order to think outside them.