Beware of the green meme!

The green meme (as referenced in spiral dynamics) is the meme characterized with the pluralistic world view, individualistic self-identity, human bonding, ecological sensitivity, and community values. The green meme represents the highest order of the post-conventional consciousness, and only about 10% of the world population are considered in the green meme level at this point.

The Spiral of Development.


Much of the discussion and effort around sustainability, technology in sustainability(tics), renewable energy, green integration, and social ventures is championed by green meme level of consciousness and type thinking.

Yet the green meme as amazing as it may seem, suffers from some serious drawbacks, which you may have surmised from the title of the post. The greatest fault for the green meme is its desire to discredit all the other memes, making them not only invalid, but also at a great fault. The green meme in its desire to integrate all previous levels in a pluralistic world view, deems all previous level as at fault, and rushes to dismantle and invalidate the development of other memes. This is ironic as the other memes, in particular the blue meme with its conformist views (similar to the republican party), and the orange meme with its liberal and scientific orientation, are mainly responsible for the development of the green meme. The green meme requires blue and orange type memes to develop and increase its base. Such invalidation of these memes is in forms a cannibalization of the green memes efforts to spread and gain power.

How is all of this relevant to technology, innovation, and creativity in sustainability? As mentioned before, the green meme is the sole meme pursuing TICS today. The efforts of the green meme will be hampered by its attitude towards other memes. To ensure success for TICS, we may need to embrace higher levels of consciousness where we include and integrate all memes. Such an approach would yield much better results. Until then, it is important to be aware and beware of the green meme’s limitations.

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Our biggest challenge in the new millennium

Our biggest challenge in the new millennium is not to manage the economy, control climate change, or produce ground breaking technology. It is to develop our collective wisdom, ethics, and universal responsibility. Everything else will follow.

This is my own quote. Inspired by my reading and research on our consciousness development and the threats for the new millennium.

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An Integral Approach to TICS

One of the topics that I am currently reading up on is the Theory of Everything(TOE) by Ken Wilber and its associated integral model. I am finding the topic extremely fascinating, and have to admit that I am still in the early learning stages. The Theory of Everything can be abstract and complex, and I have more learning to do before I can claim sufficient knowledge of it. I will attempt however to explain some of the theory that I have learned, and will also illustrate the integral model and how it would apply to Technology, Innovation, and Creativity in Sustainability. I highly recommend reading up on the subject however if you are interested in learning more.

The Theory of Everything is a theory devised by Wilber that attempts to explain where we are at today and where we are headed. It is a theory that includes all the realms, models, and memes that are known today. It’s purpose is to include and integrate everything in a holistic view. It opens the path for the second tier development of consciousness and outlines an integral model that must be adopted to ensure a successful design and implementation.

Wilber defines the integral model as one that integrates the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms. The integral model contains four different quadrants; Intentional, Behavioral, Cultural, Social. These quadrants are also known as I, IT, WE, ITS respectively. The integral model provides a holistic approach to look at the different issues and fields at hand. Here are some figures that show the four quadrants with an explanation of each.

The Integral Model

Four Quadrant Model. Theory of Everything. Credit: Ken Wilber and Shambala Publications

In the Theory of Everything, Wilber shows how the integral approach is the most superior in designing and managing the major sectors of life. He shows how it applies to the economy, education, politics, science, health care, and psychology. He outlines the benefits of using this model over the limited views and one-sided approaches that exist today.

If I were to apply the integral approach to Technology, Innovation, Creativity in Sustainability, I would apply it as such:

IT: Objective: This upper right quadrant represents the realm where all of technology design and implementation occurs today. It represents the physical and material world. An integral approach would continue to embrace this quadrant in addition to other quadrants.

I: Intention: This upper left quadrant is all about the individual being, motivation, and intention. It is paramount that an integral approach to TICS includes this quadrant. In this approach, the individual intention and motives are required to ensure that they embrace TICS. TICS will not just require the technology, but the individual’s behavioral change and motivation to embrace TICS’s implementation and utilization.

WE: Cultural: The individual does not exist in a vacuum. It is the inter-personal relationships, community, and culture that enforce and propagates the individual’s behavior changes. The WE quadrant is important to an integral approach as it ensures that TICS is embraced on a community level, and that the community level support is present to ensure its success.

ITS: Social: The last but not least quadrant is the lower left, which emphasis the social and systemic solutions to TICS. In order to embrace technology, innovation, and creativity for sustainability, the underlying system or structure must be supportive of such an embrace. It is important to engage this quadrant for a holistic approach of TICS.

I can argue that this Integral approach to TICS is the one and only approach that would yield the thought after results. If one of the quadrants is missing, the overall solution would be missing an important piece that would limit its success.

Thank you for reading on. I will cover more on this topic in the future. What are your opinions on the integral approach to TICS?

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To Have-Do-Be or to Be-Do-Have!

My blog post today is going to discuss a number of ground breaking principles that I believe will make a difference in our fight to save the planet, redesign our future to work for everyone, and score big wins in the technology field for sustainability. These principles are being used today in a variety of contexts, from building high performance teams, to achieving breakthrough results, to transforming situations and creating new unthought of solutions. I will list the principles and discuss each on its own, then I will tie all of them together to explain how they will benefit our quest to create a planet that works for everyone.

The principles that I want to discuss are:

  • Inquiry
  • Values and Groundbreaking Principles
  • Ways of being
  • Promises


Albert Einstein said “Man can’t be taught what he already knows”, and “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

It is important for all of us who are trying to save the planet and create a brighter future for its inhabitants to remember to be creative in our thinking, to never stop questioning, to come up with possibilities and solutions that at first may not seem possible, but will ingenuity will be attainable.

Values and Groundbreaking Principles

It is very important for us to figure out what our values are and operate consistently with these values. ultimately, operating consistent with values is what determines ethical conduct from none. Operating with values and ethical conduct have a positive return in any endeavor that we have in life.

The groundbreaking principles are the following:

Accountability: To be accountable for what we take on.

Responsibility: To to responsible for the outcome whether favorable or not. The outcome is always my responsibility, and has nothing to do with external factors or conditions. I have the power to make it happen. To be cause n the matter.

Integrity: To honor our words and our commitments. To operate according to them. To check in with our promises and declarations and communicate when we are not fulfilling on them.

Trust: To trust the process, ourselves, and each other. To restore trust if it is not available. Trust is given, not earned.

Ways of Being 

This aligns with the title of this post. Do we have-do-be or do we be-do-have? I would say the majority of us have been trained at a very young age that it is have-do-be. There is more evidence however that the way to accomplish the desired results is through be-do-have instead. Let’s examine this for the result of:

A Planet that works for everyone.

Have-do-be: We need to have a planet that works for everyone first, in order to perform action consistent with it, such as take care of the planet and its inhabitants, in order to be good stewards of the planet.

Be-do-have: We be good stewards of the planet first. Then we act consistent with who we are being thereby taking care of the planet and its inhabitants. Once we do that, we get the result we want, which is a planet that works for everyone.


It makes a significant difference if we make a promise and commit to its accomplishment for the result that we want to achieve. A promise here needs to be bold, and some what outrageous in its scope and reach. It should be a promise that we doubt if we can keep. Making an easy promise is boring and does not motivate anyone, whereas making a promise beyond our reach makes for a great call to action. To condition our resources and efforts to strive for reaching our bold promise.

Where does this fit in with TICS?

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, these traits, values, and tools are all used to build high performance teams. They are also used to create new solutions and results that seemed at first sight unattainable. These traits apply to sustainability, technology in sustainability, and creating a planet that works for all of us in a number of different ways.

It applies in building high performance teams that will address the issues at hand. The medium for creating these teams in communication and language. For these teams to be high performance, they need to be inquisitive, to operate consistent with our values, to take on accountability, responsibility, integrity and trust, to adopt the be-do-have model, and to create a powerful promise that calls them in action. It also applies in creating the environment where out of reach, creative, and whole solutions can be designed and implemented. 

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Cradle to Cradle design

“Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, accrues solar energy as fuel, makes complex sugars and food, creates microclimates, changes colors with the seasons and self-replicates. Well, why don’t we knock that down and write on it?”

These are the words of William McDonough author of “Cradle to Cradle“, taken from his Ted talk below on the elegance of a tree and the Cradle to Cradle design concepts. I have had a chance to pick up the book over last summer and I can tell you that it has made a profound impact on me.

Cradle to Cradle as opposed to Cradle to Grave outlines the difference in design between the products and service that we as humans have decided to develop over the past fifty or so years, versus the products and services that nature designs. It has a powerful call to action for us to revise our designs to be more harmonious with nature. It advocates checking in with our intention as a species and our plans for the future generations before developing our next products and services.

Here’s the Ted Talk by William McDonough. Enjoy!

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The Science of Persuasion and TICS

One of the most fascinating topics that I am studying right now as part of my Social Networks for Social Change class is the science and art of persuasion and influence. Persuasion is a science that has evolved over hundreds of years. The early greek scholar curriculum used to be composed of three subjects; science, logic, and rhetoric. Rhetoric is the study of persuasion and influence. The science of persuasion is becoming much more ubiquitous and is an integral part of product and service design. We have moved beyond the early products that were designed to process data and improve productivity, and are now embarking on persuasive products and services that affect behavior change. This behavior change could be in the form of causing the consumer to purchase more product, or spend more time on a service, or it could be used for good as in affecting social change.

Persuasion and influence can apply to changing a behavior, an attitude, or a belief. Changing a behavior is known as compliance, and it does not require the target to agree with the advocacy. Change of attitude is known as persuasion and it often requires emotion based tactics. The target accepts the advocacy. Change of belief is known as education or propaganda. It involves influencing the what the target believes to be true.

There are many tactics that influence compliance. Some are ethical and some are not. Robert Cialdini narrowed these to six main tactics that influence positive compliance. By positive I mean that they rely on the target’s desire to conform as opposed to coercing the target into compliance.



The six Cialdini targets are:

  • Reciprocity.
  • Liking.
  • Social Proof (Consensus).
  • Authority.
  • Commitment & Consistency.
  • Scarcity.

BJ Fogg, the head of Stanford’s persuasion design lab specializes in the field of captology, which is the study of persuasion in technology. Fogg emphasis the importance of using Motivation, ability, and triggers to enable behavior change.

Fogg came up with an eight-step process for persuasion design. The process highlights three important lessons that Fogg advocates as key success in design, innovation, and building solutions for key issues. These are:

  • Perfection is the enemy of the good.
  • Ship early and often.
  • Fail fast.

The eight-step design process highlights the importance of thinking big but starting small. Getting early successes or failing fast. Prototyping, figuring out what works, and building on success. The eight-steps are:

Step 1- Choose a simple behavior to target

Reduce a lofty goal down to a small objective. Target a small behavior change to start with. The smaller goal can be an approximation of the larger goal, or a first step towards achieving a larger goal. The reason this works is that getting people to do small things normally leads them to adopting more ambitious goals. 

Step 2- Choose a receptive audience

Choose the audience most receptive to the targeted behavior change. The target of the design process is to produce behavior change for some audience, and not all audience. Choosing early adopters also helps.

Step 3- Find what prevents the target behavior

The answer will fall into a combination of the following three categories:

  • lack of motivation
  • lack of ability
  • lack of well-timed trigger to perform the behavior

In this step determine why your target change is be resisted. Use this information to design the rest of the project. (Trying to address all three factors or even motivation and ability might prove difficult, in which case steps 1 & 2 should be revised).

Step 4- Choose a familiar technology channel

Which channel is best depends on three factors: (same as first 3 steps in the process)

  • The target behavior.
  • The audience.
  • What is preventing the audience from adapting the behavior.

Step 5- Find relevant examples of persuasive technology

Learn through others experiences and proven solutions. Study nine examples. 3 that would achieve a similar behavior change, 3 that reach a similar audience, 3 that use the same technology channel.

Step 6: Imitate successful examples

Use successful examples to lay the foundation, then innovate and make unique in further steps. People succeed fastest by imitating success,

Step 7: Test and iterate quickly

Test various persuasive experiences quickly and repeatedly. Prototype and assess / measure results.  The faster the team tests various options, the faster they will determine what works.

Step 8: Expand on success

Time to scale up. There are a number of ways of doing so:

  • Make behavior change more challenging. Demand more. Expand goal.
  • Reach out for new audience.
  • Expand scope of distribution.

Relationship to TICS

What does the science of persuasion have to do with TICS (Technology, Innovation, Creativity in Sustainability)? It is an integral part of any strategy to advance TICS. Persuasion science and design are need to promote and propagate the concept of TICS. It is required to improve the usability and adaptability of sustainable technological solutions as they become available. It is needed to motivate others to seek their own sustainable technological solutions. It is at the heart of the design, adaptability, and usage of technology for sustainability.

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Flying on Photons

Solar Impulse: A plane powered by solar energy.

Is this the future of aviation? Swiss adventurer Betrand Piccard hopes so, and so do we. The plane above is his most recent project: Solar Impulse. Piccard plans to fly this plan across the Atlantic in 2012 and around the world in 2013.

How exactly does one fly on photons?

  • The plane has a wing span of 64 meters (equivalent to an Airbus 340) but only weighs 1600 Kg which is equivalent to a small car. This allows th plane to consume the power of a small motorcycle in flight.
  • There are 12,000 photovoltaic cells in the wings, averaging 6,000 watts.
  • Plane has 400 Kg of lithium batteries that allow it to store energy for night flights.
  • The key to the flight is optimizing on energy usage. Solar power is used to takeoff and climbing, while gliding is used at a comfortable altitude (usually 27,000 feet). A pilot optimizes on energy use by deciding when to climb and when to glide.

Solar impulse seems to be a innovations away from carrying commercial passengers, it is however a step in the right direction to mitigate the environmental damage caused by fossil fuel flights. Through innovation and human ingenuity, we will get there in the not so distant future.

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