Midwifing Collective Wisdom

Many Indians await prosperity and the India of the future is yet to be built. India doesn’t have the luxury of having a carbon-intensive economy. How can we flourish in this uncertain future?

When talking to his Athenian contemporaries, Socrates portrayed himself as the “midwife of wisdom.” We live in a far more complex time with planetary challenges that threaten to end human and nonhuman life.

Our times need a new Socratic method, pitched at the collective rather than an individual; a midwife of collective wisdom, a Socratus rather than Socrates. Socratus brings data, design and public problem solving methods to the solution of wicked problems.

Wicked Problems

India faces a unique challenge in an uncertain future: we have a young and largely poor population that rightfully demands a life of freedom, dignity and prosperity. Our response to this uncertainty will not be energetic and aggressive and infused with the requisite degree of urgency unless it becomes part of India’s quest for a flourishing society.

Creating the Conditions for Wisdom

  1. Wicked problems consist of (often loosely coupled) agents embedded in the world of that wicked problem
  2. Socratus midwifes the collective wisdom of these agents by designing artifacts that help evoke, align and aggregate that wisdom.

Wicked Minds

Interventions in complex systems have unexpected consequences. The social sector is increasingly aware that it needs to take a systems approach to social change; however, in the absence of a sustained alternative, ingrained mental habits reassert themselves.

Therefore, not only do we need to understand the methods and processes of system’s thinking, we need mental habits that go with them.