Orange is the next phase of the spiral, the next step in humanity’s evolution.
Here the world is industrialised. Targets are achieved. Winners go up and losers fall down.
It is the deadline, profit and loss, Capitalism.
Survival of the fittest – probably as far as Darwin dared conceive the evolutionary process.
This is the dominant memetic phase in the world today.
It is stock markets, it is USA and Trump, rising China and India; growing Brazil and Nigeria. It is bigger house and car and better school for your children. It is really, for the most, thinking about you.
So long as America is Great Again, no one need worry. So long as you are an American.
It is seeing success through one end of the looking-glass.
This mode of operation is very successful; or, at least, it has been until now.
The NHS is (currently) a brilliant example of Orange thinking gone wrong.
You see, it is reasonable to conceive, if you create an internal market in the health service, competition will drive-up quality and reduce costs.
I can’t go into the economics of this as it is beyond my expertise. Suffice it to say, that this philosophy has paid dividends for General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, Cadbury’s and all the other multinationals that are in charge of Planet Earth today.
Maximising profits, reducing costs and growth.
There is more going-on that this, but, as a starting point this works.
So, what is the problem?
Well, if you have been a patient in an NHS hospital recently, had to wait over a year for your hip replacement, experienced infection or harm or have been one of the of workers bullied, coerced and harassed to achieve a numinal target, you might get-it.
Applying a philosophy of supply and demand, driving down cost, making your staff work (people/nurses/carers/therapists) harder by applying efficiency savings and cost-improvement plans results, in the world of health and care in very different outcomes to when a car is passed through the processing line, a bar of chocolate manufactured or microprocessor rendered.
The fundamental difference can be represented in the differences between a depressed man in their sixties (child with polio, woman with cancer, the disease isn’t that critical) and, say, a bottle of Lucozade.
Yes, both are the result of evolution – human and industrial, the latter however is created by an engineering process that although complicated is not complex. The man, and his state of angst, fear or worry is the quintessence of complexity. Understanding depression is complicated, understanding a person who is depressed is complex.
There are many differences between these two– the bottle (why does Daley Thomson come to mind?) and the depressed man (EastEnders here), one component, particularly when applying the theory of Spiral Dynamics is that you can actually produce more bottles of the orange nectar at lower cost, with less sugar and more fizz through clever marketing and novel processes; you can even roll-out the same set of instructions internationally and a bottle in Beijing will hit the shelves looking identical to one that has been manufactured in Botswana or Belgium.
The care and treatment of a depressed man is different.
Context matters as does culture.
It is not even an issue of throwing Prozac at the person and waiting for a turnaround.
Every person is unique, every element of suffering a one-off as is every encounter between patient (or person) and doctor, therapist and nurse.
There are computer models that support people living with depression; they are inadequate compared to the complexity of being a person.
Computers can beat us at chess, complete crosswords and even work out what I am going to type next on my keyboard; they don’t know what I will think tomorrow or what I will think when I coincide with someone or something else; a person, a flower, a bird.
You can head-hunt a beverage or bottle-making expert who will stand a very high chance of fixing your supply chain (if that is where you perceive there to be a problem) – this expert can draw on the insights and experience of their own life and the theories of others.
Helping a depressed man doesn’t necessarily work this way.
Higher sales of Lucozade and you can go home.
When do you leave the man with depression?
When they are happy?
When they have shifted adequately on a validated measure of mood?
If the encounter fails and the person dies, is this failure?
If the depression lifts then comes-back a year later, is that a failure too?
Can you go to work and aim for a 10% reduction in depression in the person you support in six focused sessions – is that winning?
People and bottles are very different.
This is obvious.
Yet, you will be amazed at the numbers of people who believe that fixing the NHS is as straightforward as the application of modern business methodologies – find the right model for improvement or change, mix it together and voila, you have the answer.
This has perhaps not been the best journey into Orange.
To me it means competition, big business, left-brain; it is the logic that is destroying the planet through waste and pollution, it is short-term gains, focusing on a narrow sphere of influence (aka specialisation) (which in itself might be global but doesn’t cross-over, in particular, to the future of those outside your market).
It is data. Counting and calculating where you are and projecting forwards. Using statistics to predict human behaviour and forgetting that people are mostly rationally irrational and mostly cannot be traded, swapped or manipulated for gain.
Orange is incredibly successful.
It has taken us to the moon and made saltwater potable; it has cured many forms of cancer and generated my computer, the light in my house and the petrol that takes me shopping. It is inextricably linked with modernity, yet, it is killing us. It is voracious, a hungry beast that only knows growth and consumption.
It is not what our world (or care) requires.
It is the inverse.
It is a highly successful way to arrive at a result that no one necessarily desires or wants and that might just kill us all.