Economical Drama

While waiting in the harbour for the speedboat to Koh Kood, an economical drama developed before our eyes. A silent war took place between the young Nestlé ice cream salesman and his more senior opponent from Unilever. In contrast to the conflict in Thailand between the yellow and the red, this was a battle between the blue and the red.

In spite of a bad cold, the blue were getting more of the market, maybe because he was under a tree in the shadow. The red was positioned closer to the café where a lot of the potential customers were hovering, waiting for the boat to arrive. However, his bright red motorbike was in the merciless sun. Since I like to encourage competition, I bought a Magnum from the red when he showed signs of giving up. He let me have the ice cream, and then moved across the road into the shadow. The blue then gave me the evil eye and immediately moved into the vacant space. A nice kind of illustration of first-mover advantage versus the benefits of being the fast second.

In these times of economical crisis, we need to learn more quickly and also come up with more novel ideas. According to researcher Barbara Fredrickson, discrete positive emotions broaden the scopes of attention and cognition and lead to a widened array of thoughts and action impulses in the mind. So how about designing positive learning environments? In folk high schools pedagogical drama is often successfully used and it is even possible to study the topic at Malmö University. Another creative combination of art and science is the concept of dialogue seminars, applied in many contexts including the Swedish National Defence College.

But my favorite educational concept is that of simulations. My friend Kristofer Erlandsson has developed several simulations for example one where you practice innovation system development and another where you get a better understanding of the works of the EU. Right now he is running several workshops in Europe called Road Map simulation, helping companies to develop business strategies.

Wouldn´t it be nice if we could develop a new art/science called Economical Drama? There we could act out wicked problems related to financial and climate challenges, based on scientific knowledge. A group of decision-makers could be assigned different roles in order to learn to understand other perspectives. Let the capitalist play the role of the WWF president, let the industrialist become the new Fair Trade Executive, let the scientist try on the Current TV journalist’s shoes, and make WTO and World Bank executives do a swap.

Another application would be to simulate a funding committee in an incubator with a mission of sustainable funding. It could be inspired by UNEP’s Financial Initiative (thank you Milton Lore for this gem) or the Swedfund’s good results.

I’m going to the National Business Incubation Association conference in Kansas City in a few weeks. Maybe I should launch the idea then and there…

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