Learning from a world in motion

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Marketing was invented by Americans, refined by Europeans and is now being processed around the world in every culture. Being rooted in the West means being rooted in the philosophic traditions of the West, from Maslow’s reimagining of Judeo-Christian hierarchies that lead upwards to a God, to the simple notion that this planet was created for human benefit. These assumptions pervade Western philosophy and thinking.

Not so in the Majority World where Judeo-Christian philosophy is at best a light sprinkling on ancient cultural narratives. In China, India and Africa–the growth engines of the global economy–cultural narratives can run 5,000 years and underpin modern beliefs affecting, as the marketers say, core values.

Recent work at the Studio has led us into this territory at full tilt. Concepts of beauty, shared values and perceived freedoms all become intertwined with a conversation about how we are living through a change of eras that demands us to think in the long term.

Trends are very layered and operate at different paces. It seems that long, slow change is the most powerful and short, fast change the least. When the two connect, as the long, slow change of gender roles has with the short, fast change of social media, then the world pivots in a very significant way. Look around you, gender “ain’t what it used to be”. Things are changing in even the most traditional of cultures.

It is with this in mind that we took a look at Migration and Movement in our first edition of An^log, our journal of insights that are, well, not digital. As we move swiftly into the discontinuous change of the modern era we believe in taking the information that describes our world, often in the form of increasingly big data, and marrying it to the stories that help us understand our world. In the intersection of these two forms of knowledge we find a truth: our economy and our machines may be digital, but we are, thankfully, still analog.

From this perspective we see how our businesses, corporate and otherwise, have a central role to play in helping humanity achieve its shared ideals. This means paying attention to those 5,000-year-old narratives and seeking to align with values that transcend the inequities of colonial times and a recent “sprinkling” of western values around the world. The world is not an export market, it is our home. If we treat it as such, embracing and illuminating our shared human values as well as our idiosyncrasies, then our businesses will have improved the world. A lot.