I often use a particular analogy to describe the work I do. I talk about ‘making the pan boil’.
I see every new idea or solution that progresses the world as heat in the system. I see the world as a big bathtub and all the solutions around the world gently heating that bathtub. Because there is such a large volume of water to heat, progress is slow.
Now, if you take the same heat and apply it to a small saucepan, then the water will boil much faster.
In essence, that is what we are doing at The Dandelion Project. We bring many of the world’s best solutions and innovations to our small island nation of Guernsey to inspire our population to solve problems.
Most problems where I live are what I call ‘10-coffee problems’. Our government bureaucracy is human scale. We are a town as well as a country and we are outside the EU. Our local government is our national government. In most cases, it is possible to find out who is responsible for what, and go and have a coffee with them to discuss issues.
From a good solution hitting our shores to it being adopted nationally can take as few as 2 years. For large countries with many layers of bureaucracy, that process can take a decade or more. Understanding who, if anyone, is in charge of something is a problem in itself, let alone getting access to them.
For me, the world needs to concentrate more of its efforts into small areas in which solutions are likely to be implemented quickly. In such ecosystems, many things are interconnected and new ideas interact, creating real solutions with significant impact.
You cannot solve the problems of education without changing society. You cannot change healthcare without changing education or food systems. You cannot cure poverty without healing the obsession with personal wealth. There are more than enough resources for everyone, but the issues lie with people accumulating wealth and consuming resources they do not need to. It’s about changing a mindset, and working with like minded people to take action.
That is why I spend so much of my time looking to solve every problem within a small space, rather than focussing on solving a single problem across the whole world. If we create a new and reliable model that is replicable, its effects can be global. But first, we focus our attention on problems within a confined area. We concentrate our efforts and set a small pan to boil.
This Saturday, we are running a conference called Thrive2020 as part of Guernsey Mental Health Week. Its aim is to solve mental ill health as a societal problem and create the happiest country on earth.
When you understand that solving this huge challenge involves changing healthcare, education, workplaces, the media, societal motivations, spirituality – everything – you start to understand that small countries can play a huge role in creating a beacon for the rest of the world to follow. It turns a problem that’s impossible to solve into something on the brink of solvability.
- What if thousands of problem solvers focussed all their ideas on one place?
- What will be the collective effect?
- What could the world look like, beyond here and now?
We are going to find out.
To the pan boiling.