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Ryan Smith

Accenture Consulting

TEDCRED 20+

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The world's biggest problems may be more easily solved by FOSTERING A NEW CULTURE than by enforcing new rules.

Poverty, Corruption, Climate Change, Infrastructure, Environmental Protection, the list of intransigent global problems and opportunities without simple solutions goes on...

Issues like these are huge and systemic. I used to consider these problems within the context of a system. Change what goes in to change what goes out or change the rules of the system.

Most people offer solutions to these problems in the form of enforceable laws and policies within governments, companies, or other institutions. I'd like to propose that we consider a different perspective from which to focus on solutions for large, systemic problems: Culture.

Culture change means making different ideas Normal. We need this more than we need the enforcement and administration of Rules. In short: fostering a healthy, self-sustaining ecosystem > pesticides & weed-pulling.

The Social Animal by David Brooks proposes that poverty is a culture passed down from generation to generation. The most successful education reforms target culture change first.

Analysis of cultural norms among airline pilots and copilots lead to a drastic drop in crashes by South Korean airlines after steps were taken to foster a culture where copilots were more likely to speak up to more senior pilots when they identified potential issues.

Genghis Khan rallied the natural culture of a nomadic people inherently skilled at moving and organizing large encampments, riding and breeding horses, practiced marksmanship, and adaptable survival skills to build one of history's largest empires. Can we mobilize latent cultures to solve intransigent problems?

Why do countries with similar laws sometimes have drastically different outcomes for gun violence, education, and other important issues often considered primarily "legal" issues?
When is fostering culture change more effective than enforcing rules?
How can we apply "change management" concepts to big issues?
As leaders, what is the best way to change culture... for the better?

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