No, we are thinking of something different: a leadership model capable of creating more sustained, ongoing change, continuous mentorship, personal guidance, social influence, business impact. Sure, there are think-tanks for this issue or that, each with its own limits and biases. But does the world really need one more special interest group? Do you?
The internet has opened new vehicles for the dissemination of leadership ideas. TED talks come to mind. The YouTube channels and podcasts of speakers and thinkers we admire come to mind. But these are not groups. They do not grip us. At least not for more than a few minutes. We may follow our favorites, but social media is not a leadership organization.
With due respect to all past efforts, none of these vehicles is really changing the world, at scale, with the urgency required to solve the menacing problems humanity confronts.
No effort and no organization are responding adequately to the dramatic challenges we face as a species, confronting economic and political crises, technological revolutions, planetary threats.
To find leadership groups who come together at that scale, at that speed, we would need to look back further. The Manhattan Project, for example, where the greatest minds of a generation were pulled together to develop the most destructive weapons ever conceived. Another example are the massive heavily-funded research efforts to find cures for cancer and for HIV/AIDS.
No coincidence that these examples were the result of threats from war and diseases. The fear of imminent collective death is a powerful motivator. But think about it. These past mobilizations were engineered and funded largely by governments, the most powerful nations on earth. Is it even conceivable that the creation of a leadership group could be assembled, organized, funded, and grown sustainably from the private sector?
Yet precisely this bold mission is already underway – quietly, modestly, far from the public eye – led by some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial minds on the planet. That they have assembled the people and created the best practices to make this dream a reality. But before proceeding to the who and the how, let’s address the why.
In a word:
That perennial mother of invention has given birth yet again, this time in an altogether new form. Great minds came to the conclusion that business as usual will no longer cut it. That we as a species cannot continue to plod and plot along with the same old same old as potentially catastrophic forces – economic, technological, climatological – are proceeding at a far faster pace, threatening our societies, our very existence, the mother planet we inhabit.
Traditional leadership has failed us. Traditional leaders have pandered to the masses, followed the crowd, chosen the easy ways out. Perhaps it is the modern entrepreneurial leader whose time has come to step up and innovate, thinking out of the box and developing solutions that more established institutions and methods have not managed over centuries to devise.
Hollywood, naturally, has envisioned such crises. Aliens invade, an asteroid strikes, an epidemic breaks out – and the survivors must scurry to craft an ingenious solution, the last hope for humanity. Sometimes the movies have a happy ending, sometimes… not so much. Other great minds have decided to write off Earth and head out to another orb, the Moon perhaps, or Mars, or maybe somewhere in a distant galaxy, to settle there instead.
Some of us blessed with abundance and affluence believe we already live in a different world than the rest of humanity. To some extent, we are part of a breakaway civilization that lives by different standards, and travels in different circles, than the 99+% of the rest. But the reality is “caught together, hanged together“ – either we learn to cooperate and solve our shared problems, or the legacy we leave will shortchange future generations, the children and grandchildren we cherish or dream of. As the American revolutionary Benjamin Franklin, now the face on the US hundred dollar bill, once said: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”