2.1. Why We Need to Scale Up Our Institutions

Ministering to the needs of millions upon millions of people is really, really hard. We need to revamp our institutions to meet the needs of this larger, more diverse world.

In the introduction to this series, I argued that the biggest crisis we’re dealing with is a total collapse of trust in our institutions.

We’ve really got to get to the bottom of this. And we really need to address it.

We demand a lot from our institutions. And we should. They’re supposed to be leading the way, carrying the torch, making us proud.

But let’s not forget that ministering to the needs of millions upon millions of people is really, really hard.

Think about it this way. Suppose you run a successful company. You do a great job. You have a 99 percent satisfaction rate.

But that still means 1 in 100 people are angry, annoyed, or frustrated with you.

If you have 100 million customers, that means you still have a whopping 1 million people whom you’re letting down!

So just because you’ve heard of hundreds or thousands or even millions of people who’ve been wronged by the government or a business or some other institution doesn’t necessarily mean that institution is totally malicious or incompetent.

Because the more people you need to serve, the more people you’re inevitably going to let down…even if your success rate is pretty darned good.

In the past 55-60 years, we’ve gone from a global population of 3 billion in 1960 to a population of about 7.5 billion today.

That means there are two and a half times as many people alive today…and two and a half times as many people whose lives are adversely affected, when our institutions don’t work as well as they could.

Not only that, but the negative consequences of dysfunctional institutions are far worse than they used to be. Today, dysfunctional institutions have the power to wipe out our whole species. Dysfunctional institutions have the power to make our whole planet uninhabitable.

What can we do about this?

Businesspeople can tell you about the phenomenon of “scaling up.”

When a business suddenly has to serve two or three times as many people as it did in the past, it can’t just keep doing things the same way it used to.

Often, it has to revamp its entire way of operating, to meet the needs of this much larger, much more diverse population.

If it doesn’t, it’s going to fail a greater and greater percentage of people. People are going to stop trusting it, and abandon it in droves. If it doesn’t evolve…it’s going to collapse.

I think this is the main dynamic we’re dealing with today.

We have so many more people, so many more needs to meet…and yet, except for a few minor tweaks, our governments, businesses, media, schools, religions, and other organizations are basically the same as they were fifty years ago.

We need to scale up.

We need to revamp our institutions to meet the needs of this larger, more diverse world.

When it comes to basic needs like food, shelter, and health care, even a 99 percent success rate isn’t good enough anymore. Because even if we hit that target…we’re still leaving 75 million people to die!

We need to completely rethink how our institutions should function. We need to figure out how to reach fantastic new heights in how we take care of people and manage our affairs.


This is the 29th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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