Deep Forces Driving Cultural Change – 2

In my last post, “Deep Forces Driving Cultural Change – 1“,
I suggested that a deep force driving change is the human pursuit of a new way to live.

Today I want to follow up with a short extension of that idea by asking,
In what ways are humans pursuing this new way to live?

I suggest that we are turning

from “individual/tribal” to “communal”
from “above” to “within”
from “against” to “with”

From Tribal to National to Communal

There has been a progression in human history from radical exclusiveness towards growing inclusiveness. In other words, our sense of who is an “insider” and who is an “outsider” is changing.
In early days, those who belonged to the tribe or clan were insiders. This idea of who is an insider/ outsider would extend at times to a federation of  tribes of clans. Insiders were those who belonged to a family of tribes/ clans.

This understanding evolved with the rise of nations. Now inclusion was not limited to blood ties, but by belonging to a nation. Our identities extended themselves belong the tribe to include anyone who was our countryman.

In more recent times, due to the ubiquity of the web-based connections and social media, our sense of identity is expanding once again. Anyone anywhere can be our “friend”.  Citizenship is global and communal.  The sense of “us” and “them” is blurring and the sense of connection is growing.


From “Above” to “Within”

Humans see themselves less as “above” the natural world and more as “within” the natural world. Rather than “control” over the environment (and perhaps even  “leverage” over other nations, and “power” in our relationships), we sense that we belong to the environment (and to each other). People, like the citizens of Costa Rica that are in the process of closing their Zoos, want, in the words of one observer, “all of God’s creatures to live free”.

Human Nature Paintings

From “Against” to “With”

Humans are desiring more collaborative environments and ways to nurture the young versus the competitive environs we’ve been used to. Some moms in the USA would rather have their kids play in little league soccer games in which “everyone” wins and feelings are protected. Winning the World Cup is not a value in this shift. Making sure that everyone feels valued is.

To say that our sense of identity has evolved from tribal to global/communal is not to say that we don’t value and long for community. We still want to belong to a team. We want to be “with” each other instead of “against” one another.

What does this mean for leadership?


In this time of transition it is crucial to nurture the human spirit. The structures and programs that we have created no longer give us the space to be free, to create, to invent, to discover.  (Click on the last idea to tweet).

We are the only creatures –as far as we know– that ask, “why?”  The speed at which we live does not give us space to ponder this most crucial question. We can hardly breathe much less think. So many of us are so time-starved that we cannot connect, so wired that we are disengaged from the tactile world around us. (Click on the last idea to tweet). As a result, we have forgotten who and what we are and desperately long to remember.

As leaders, what values do we organize our lives around? What are the values our business culture organizes around? Are these values expansive enough to nurture the human spirit?

I sense that these are three ways that humans are looking for new ways of living. We want  …

to connect.

to reenter.

to belong again.

What do you think?


2 responses to “Deep Forces Driving Cultural Change – 2”

  1. Bil Avatar

    Is it ironic that the comment about our being so wired that we are disconnected from the world around us is one-click-tweetable?

    1. Alex McManus Avatar

      Yes, that is an irony. 🙂
      Good insight, Bill.

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