Why a 10 Year Mission?
At Creating the Future, our mission is to apply Catalytic Thinking in as many situations as we can - to experiment in as many human systems as possible, and to share what we learn - all by the end of 2026. At the end of that 10 years, it will be time to assess what we've learned and what we've accomplished, to determine what - if anything - is next for our work.
What does it make possible when we commit to accomplishing a mission within a specific timeframe?
Most mission statements describe what an organization does. But in plain English usage, a mission is more than simply taking action; it is about accomplishing something. We say things like “Mission Accomplished!” (translation: We did it. It’s done.) or “Mission Impossible” (translation: It cannot be done.). We don’t say, “Mission ongoing forever.”
Taking that language seriously, Creating the Future has vowed that we will focus on what we intend to accomplish, and that we will document what we have learned, sharing that to benefit everyone seeking to create a more humane, equitable, healthy world.
That then begs the second question: Why set a timeframe for accomplishing that? To answer that, we'll turn to the world of basketball.
The Shot Clock
Basketball fans understand the power of the shot clock – the timer that requires the team in possession of the ball to attempt a basket or lose possession. If the team in possession of the ball does not attempt to shoot a basket within the prescribed time, the other team gains possession of the ball.
What most people do not know, however, is why there is a shot clock in the first place. For that, we’ll turn to Wikipedia:
The National Basketball Association had problems attracting fans before the shot clock's inception. This was due to teams running out the clock once they were leading in a game; without the shot clock, teams passed the ball nearly endlessly without penalty. Very low-scoring games were common, which bored fans. The NBA tried several rule changes in the early 1950s to speed up the game before eventually adopting the shot clock.
By having a time limit, action happened. If Team A didn’t shoot within 24 seconds, Team B got possession of the ball. Game scores increased, action increased – and excitement about the game increased!
Social Change Shot Clock
Without a “shot clock,” social change efforts become about the doing vs. getting it done. In many cases, that is a worthy endeavor. If there are sick people to be healed, children to be educated, artists to be nurtured, those are all efforts that are worthy of being ongoing. In circumstances like addiction and war, interventions may be needed for a long time.
While we intervene, though, we can simultaneously be striving to create a world that doesn’t need those ongoing interventions. Because we accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for, having a “shot clock” is one way to hold ourselves accountable for “done” vs. “continual doing.”
Creating the Future’s “shot clock” informs all our plans for the future. It tells us that instead of running the same education and convening programs forever, that we want you to have those skills. And we want you to share those skills with others, so that they become self-propagating. We believe that is the only road to the world being visibly different from what we see today.
Creating the Future’s work is an experiment. The goal of that experiment is to see how Catalytic Thinking changes situations, bringing out the best in everyone involved. Being an experiment, we are prepared to learn that maybe 10 years isn’t enough time. Or that maybe setting a time limit at all isn’t effective. We won’t know until we try, and being an experiment encourages constant trying, learning, adjusting, and then trying again.
What we do know is that as of right now, we have 10 years to make the biggest difference we can. That means there is not a moment to lose in helping you – and everyone you know – bring out the best in everyone around you and the systems in which you find yourself.