Symbiotic Governments | Conceptualizing missions for a better tomorrow
A symbiotic government has the potential to transform the hierarchical, siloed structure of independent ministries, which will allow us to strategize for the future and drive exponential change and progress.
We cannot strategize for the future using systems of the past, and a 'symbiotic government' has the potential to drive exponential change and progress. Such a transformation requires a deeper understanding of the building blocks of a symbiotic government – Missions. Missions have been prescribed as instruments for non-linear thinking, capable of epitomizing the vitality needed to transform governments, corporates, even individuals.
Nelson Mandela had a personal mission which he advocated for all to support; emphasizing that a true mission permeates through society, its people and its institutions. In 2015, MARS Inc. experienced a surge of innovation when mandated to achieve their zero waste-to-landfill mission; highlighting that missions are a multi-year endeavor mandating the need for innovations, because solutions are not always readily available. President John F. Kennedy’s mission of landing a man on the Moon is a prime example of how a single mission consumed multiple experts, leaders, agendas and mandates across the government and the country; illustrating the need for missions to be designed as a portfolio of solutions, with various players and components collaborating towards a single objective.
But not all missions are created equal.
I’ve experienced the potential and convening power of large organizations, who’s missions tend to be addressed by a volume of ideas which could be added to the ever-growing list of views and concepts. But it’s difficult to extract actionability and accountability with no specified actors or quantifiable long-term agendas and actions. Which emphasizes that linear initiatives, such as councils, platforms, and conferences, are tools limited to redressing the content, instead of attempting to alter and elevate the context.
Certain countries, like the UAE and the Ministry of Possibilities, are hopefully showcasing that governments can run more effectively using innovative models and systems. Yet, missions - like innovations - in pockets or silos are not as impactful, especially when the core of government remains unchanged. Successful missions require an all-encompassing agenda (beyond a singular solution), not bound by a specific ministry, nor a specific department, and not limited to the expertise of a few consultants and SMEs.
A symbiotic government has the potential to transform the hierarchical, siloed structure of independent ministries; and mission-based thinking empowers this neural-like system of government. No matter how large the ask, if not precisely defined, within an inspirational and aspirational scope, it cannot encompass the power which enfolds a mission’s ability to achieve magnitude.
Building on existing criteria for developing missions, I mapped out the below set of guiding principles for identifying missions capable of driving symbiotic governments:
- Single statement of an inspirational and bold purpose based on a detected need
- Collective ownership
- Clear direction that is targeted, data-driven, measurable and time bound
- Portfolio of co-created, knowledge-based solutions
- Realistic through actionable experimentation and funding for long-term execution
- Community of followers and supporters
To better visualize how these principles can be applied, each of the principles was mapped to UAE Hope Probe Mars Mission:
Hopefully by designing a system based on missions of long term value, we can progress to a future with better fit-for-purpose governments. So, maybe it’s time for governments to step up and leverage the value of missions, especially with the systemic challenges our world is facing as a result of short-termism.