A handbook for the 21st century
To be published in 2021, the new book by Keith Harrison-Broninski
With foreword by Vint Cerf, Co-Inventor of the Internet and Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA
By 2050, half the planet will be living on a knife edge. Communities cannot afford to wait for cash-strapped governments to address inequality and climate change. But how can they afford to take action themselves?
Cities, towns, neighbourhoods, and villages can and must become supercommunities — ecosystems able to sustain their natural, human, and industrial capitals. A supercommunity evolves from within to meet new challenges in times of crisis. It removes friction from collaboration so that local people become stakeholders and local organisations work together effectively. Powered by social trading, a supercommunity leverages progressive economic ideas and digital tools for local wellness.
Today, a tiny fraction of global investment is into social impact. Supercommunities will unlock the true potential of finance by offering investors worldwide the chance to become stakeholders in good things.
Check out the synopsis below.
If you would like a review copy, please use the form at the foot of this page.
See also the associated Internet of Communities blog series. We are increasingly realising how current online infrastructure is unfit for purpose, particularly with regard to managing trust and empowering the creation of social value. The ideas in Supercommunities enable the creation of a new social layer of Internet technology that enhances how individuals and organisations manage their identity online.
The basic idea of the Internet of Communities is to replicate online the way in which we interact offline. In the real world, people and organisations establish trust by sharing information about the communities (geographical and other) to which they belong, along with the contributions to and uses made of the capitals of those communities. This creates an incentive to make such contributions, which builds virtuous circles of social engagement.
"Supercommunities offers a path away from social and economic meltdown, but following that path will require cooperation and consensus on a scale unprecedented in human history ... Old economic theories of ownership and wealth distribution will need revision if all the world’s population is to thrive in the remainder of the 21st Century ... It is very late but perhaps not too late to adopt new directions, recognizing the common threat posed by our present, inequitable and ultimately disastrous practices.
We will need to replace short term thinking with long term planning and execution if we are to regain upward motion towards common benefit for everyone on Spaceship Earth. To begin, read this book!"
From the foreword by
Co-Inventor of the Internet
"Reflecting his own many talents and interests, Keith Harrison-Broninski’s ‘Supercommunities’ is a fascinating, eclectic and powerful call for us to rebuild society from the bottom up. As we move into a post Covid period still facing the many challenges that existed before the pandemic there is a need for us to rethink our ideas of human and social flourishing and to respond to the palpable public appetite for new ways of thinking. Ranging from ancient history to economics to psychology to public policy ‘Supercommunities’ is both authoritative and highly readable. It puts our current challenges in context, shows why change is necessary and provides a trove of practical ideas for change makers."
From the foreword by
Chief Executive, The RSA
"These frightening times call for new thinking and big ideas. In the beautifully titled 'Supercommunities', Keith Harrison-Broninski explains how very contemporary digital tools can be used to reinforce old and important ideas about community and common interest. Our politics and economics of 'me' must return to being about 'we', and this book shows us how."
Professor Martin Parker
Lead, Bristol Inclusive Economy Initiative
“Keith Harrison-Broninski draws on rich, eclectic sources to steer readers artfully through humanity’s stumbling efforts to approximate the 'summum bonum', the good life of meaning and connectedness we almost universally aspire to, asking a simple question: are we now able to meld what we learned in psychology, micro-economics and organizational behavior with the new possibilities offered by technology and the information age to (re-)create a shared living which is spiritually nourishing and paradoxically natural? Supercommunities is timely and compelling as we look to build back better following the COVID-19 pandemic with resilience 'baked in' to our social and economic order.”
David Hayward Evans
Senior Advisor, UNICEF
"Yes, Supercommunities is a handbook for the 21st century; more importantly, however, this is a handy book on how to fix our increasingly complex and troubling future.
Handy and timely. An essential read.”
Author, entrepreneur, and host of KEEN ON podcast
A truly important piece by Keith Harrison-Broninski on how small communities can thrive under stress.
As we ponder what we can do in our own enclaves to make a positive impact under truly daunting stressors, this is the kind of book we need right now.
Phaedra Boinodiris, FRSA
Author & Trust in AI Business Transformation Leader, IBM
Author & Fmr. Chief Innovation Officer at Dell
“Systems theory has told us for decades that optimizing a subsystem always results in the suboptimization of the system it resides in, always. Yet our system of society has insisted on focusing on optimizing its many subsystems of government, business, education, healthcare, media, science, even art and sport. The consequences have been increasing inequity and balkanization of society across all its dimensions, along with increased fragility of all its parts. Systems theory also tells us that optimization of the system requires a dynamic network of interactions among all the subsystems and elements that make up the subsystems, where the efficacy of the relationships self-organize and trump the efficiency of the subsystems. Keith Harrison-Broninski has synthesized and distilled the many elements of this into Supercommunities, the ultimate self-help book for society and a handbook for those who want to understand how to change it.”
“Collaboration alone buys better outcomes for individuals, but the real big deal is applying collaboration to communities. This book describes the nature of communities and gives a significant prescription for creating and maintaining healthy communities. Digital technologies can accelerate results for all kinds of communities in the dynamic world we live in today.”
Former Vice President, Gartner
“The current Digital Transition of society is also a shift from ‘command-and-Control to a ‘connect-and-collaborate’ society where the norm is ‘What do we have in common?’ rather than ‘What sets us apart?’’ - i.e., the community model will become the norm. This book explains where it comes from and how you can keep on going.”
Business Community Builder & D1G1T4L C0NN3CT0R
“In 'Supercommunities' Keith Harrison-Broninski succinctly targets the escalating challenges and risks facing communities today and well into the future. His perspective on communities needing to independently organize and become self-sustaining entities is prophetic. He raises issues that communities should begin to consider now because the future is closer than we think.”
Author & President of the Business Architect Guild
“In these difficult times, when many process people are focused on automation and AI, it's important to maintain our sense of balance. Processes work because people make them work. While many process gurus focus on IT, Keith Harrison-Broninski has maintained a steady focus on the human side of making organizations productive and effective. Supercommunities is a thought-provoking contribution to the process literature.”
Author and Executive Editor of BPTrends
By 2050, almost half the world’s population, in both developed and developing economies, will be living on some form of knife edge. To address this, we must create more cohesive and caring communities.
To become antifragile, communities need to develop local modifications of the market economy based on social enterprise, in which participants aim not only to make profit but also to benefit people and the planet.
In order to prevent inequality that led to social breakdown, early societies protected individuals from unmanageable debt. Human rights go further in some ways now but no longer include debt protection.
The economic shock of the 1970s led to commercial interests determining government policies. The rules of society are now shaped by businesses, whose access to a global workforce means they can disregard social concerns.
Increasing freedom from taxation and regulation combined with privatisation of national resources mean that the largest economies in the world are now corporations, leaving states deeply in debt with no way out.
Throughout history the rise of oligarchic wealth destroyed societies. Now, corporate power dominates political decisions, so privatisation continues although the resulting public services are expensive and poor quality.
The rise of corporate power is creating human misery, exacerbated ever further as inequality grows unchecked. Debts are escalating out of control at both household and state level.
We can create a better society without extremism by building supercommunities, which adopt emergent behaviours to become antifragile whether or not new sources of value provide economic growth.
Wellness is not the same as absence of illness, and is not a purely medical concept but more holistic. Definitions vary, and attempting to standardize wellness may lead to undesirable intervention into private life.
Positive psychology explores how becoming self-activated can help you flourish. PsyCap captures the importance of Hope, (Self-)Efficacy, Resilience, and Optimism in overcoming challenges and achieving goals.
Some people cannot increase their wellness without access to, and help in using, practical as well as psychological resources - the poor in particular, since early disadvantage lowers your ability to thrive unaided.
People who consume many government services generate massive cost to society. They are stigmatized as criminal or lazy but typically have long-standing health conditions that generate further wellness issues.
Using a wellness wheel to show how practical life issues are interconnected enables people to work through their personal challenges and set achievable goals for each one. This is the first step towards PsyCap.
Social cohesion and engagement are at a historically low ebb. Restoring the trusting, reciprocal relationships that characterise community will release forms of value that help remedy major social challenges.
Communities take varied forms and can be fluid. It is belonging that matters. The human brain evolved through social behaviour, since reciprocal altruism delivers powerful benefits that are otherwise unavailable.
The strength of your community connections outweighs everything else when it comes to wellness. This is because community connection enables, or the lack of it disables, everything on your wellness wheel.
A community can help marginalized people increase their wellness at low total cost by providing social rather than medical resources to help them thrive. However, some people need more than a social prescription.
The holistic support needed for wellness can be provided at low cost via a personal support network – a group of people who help you make your wellness plan, then provide help and encouragement as you implement it.
Taking on a role is not about tasks but about accepting responsibilities for achieving goals. You need to know about other roles in the team, and ensure that it includes a mixture of thinkers, doers, socializers, and leaders.
Communication coordinates behaviour as well as transferring information. To work well with others, have conversations for Context, Possibility, Disclosure, then Action and communicate about one thing at a time.
In order to engage with their work, people need recognition and appreciation. Praise should be personalized, heartfelt, and timely. Volunteering has huge benefits, most of which accrue to the volunteers themselves.
To achieve great impact for low effort, make interventions local and personal, focus on outcomes not outputs, and ensure that organisations work together. Depending on the scale, use Agile techniques or value maps.
To notice events and respond, use Research-Evaluate-Analyze-Constrain-Task (REACT). To conduct Research, use Access-Identify-Memorize (AIM). Separate leadership into Strategic, Executive, and Management Control.
Building a strong community requires years of civic engagement at grass roots, which must be multi-faceted and inclusive. It can be sustained or destroyed by municipal efforts towards regeneration.
Ownership takes many forms. Useful ways to think about it are stewardship and stakeholding. Opening up control over activity typically increases its success, both economically and by more holistic measures.
Community capitals are enablers of activity and can be separated into natural, human, and industrial assets. Community members can map them in an online database, and plan their maintenance using visual models.
Local economies can build social cohesion and access specialist finance via social trading, which has ethical as well as commercial aims. Social traders must act cooperatively. They think differently about opportunity cost.
Some social traders cannot access traditional community finance or impact investment. They can access global capital markets at low cost via stakeitbacks – a new way to fund good things, see the impact, and get a return.
To ensure that outputs lead to desirable outcomes, benefits must be managed. This can be hindered by cognitive biases of various types, and helped by application of REACT and AIM to create virtuous loops.
A community that aims to become antifragile needs its members to assess their own progress towards wellness. This can be enabled by providing diverse but standardized self-assessment tools in a digital hub.
Assessing wellness of the community as a whole means identifying gaps and overlaps in provision of resources that support individual wellness. Data from wellness plans can be aggregated with data from other sources.
Communities that use autopoiesis to become antifragile must tell their stories to inspire others. Community wealth building, grass roots regeneration, and social prescribing are a starting point but not yet fully holistic.
To ensure that all community stakeholders play a positive part in change, it is vital to be inclusive, ask open-ended questions that generate action, and use facilitation techniques to manage meetings effectively.
Engaging with community can be emotionally and spiritually draining. It can also be massively restorative, bring new and rewarding relationships, help you develop personally, and make you feel better about your life.
Business will not save us from inequality, climate change, and new global crises. Government policies may help eventually, but when is unclear. Communities need to act now. The first step is to develop local social trading.