A few days ago Fredrik Härén released his new book “The Developing World”. Well worth reading! At least for me who thought I already knew. (Not enough, I quickly learned ;) The problem: too few, in particular developed politicians, acknowledge the urgency to again become a society constantly developing in a creative fashion.
The Web site TheDevelopingWorld.com of course describes what this book is all about. In summary: “how an explosion of creativity from developing countries is changing the world – and why the developed world should start paying attention”. At the site you can also see the video version of the book’s manifesto, which I embed here too – ’cause it’s sooo good. Watch! Then read more below.
Disclaimer: I already like Fredrik Härén and have had the pleasure to meet, and listen to, him a number of times. But I paid for the book and decided myself to buy it directly from the web site.
Fredrik is a fantastic entrepreneur, thinker and speaker. If you have ever seen him on stage talking about the developing countries you already know his main point. We (developed people) have not only stopped developing ourselves, we have also missed what they (people in developing countries) do, and how that most likely will hit us.
You might think you already understand. I mean, everyone have been talking for years about what´s happening in China, India, South Korea, Kuala Lumpur, and you name it. But how about Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Lithuania – to name a few? Furthermore, understanding is less than action. And we need to act.
In his new book Fredrik Härén share many new inspiring thoughts to fuel some creative action from our side. Actually, a lot of things, cases, and anecdotes I have not heard, or considered, before. As a book it has some interesting features. There are no back scratching testimonials from (prominent) people. No table of content, no bullets, tables or diagrams, and no cool new technology integration (although I have heard plans for an e-book version).
The book’s 160+ pages with content (not counting a few blanks) is divided into the sections: What is happening in the world; Their advantages; Our disadvantages; and What can we learn from them. The findings does not come from a big fancy global research company. Instead it is Fredrik Härén who personally have lived for four years in the countries he reports from. A critical reader might think “well, Fredrik only sees what he is looking for”. Perhaps that is occasionally so. But remember, he went out with a totally different mindset. To find out what he could teach them. Only to quickly realize it was the other way around.
Besides the develop-developing dichotomy Fredrik Härén this time elegantly mix in the importance, and role, of creativity. For example, by illustrating how the governments in many developing countries devote a lot of attention, money, and institutions to initiate, foster, and support creativity throughout the society. Well beyond School (where I note that creativity has become an increasingly popular buzz word).
In sum, The Developing World is a very interesting piece to read – easily. Very well written, perhaps thanks to the sophisticated translation by Fiona Miller.
Finally, what does all this have to do with the (Swedish) election? For me the recent Swedish election (September 19) was rather uninteresting. If the big thing in the USA’s last election clearly was “Change”, it seemed that Sweden’s silent theme was “maintain”.
No leading politician was, or is, basing their viewpoint and agenda with even the slightest notion of what Fredrik Härén presents. For example, they still assume new immigrants will keep our economy running as the population retires. I find it more likely that well before that happens, non-Swedes will look elsewhere – to the developing countries. Unless Sweden offers something creative, unique and attractive.
For some years I have said that politicians are either ignorant (read stupid) or a opaque (read afraid of loosing power), thus not bringing the “we are developed problem” up. Fredrik Härén tells a story he heard from a senior manager at one of Sweden’s most successful corporations:
He told me about a visit he had received from a delegation of Swedish members of the Parliament. He asked the politicians what they thought they could learn from the Chinese. The politicians laughed and said “Don’t you mean what the Chinese can learn from us?'” (p. 74)
I truly believe Sweden has a lot to teach China, for example how to foster democracy and the individual’s rights. But that should not obscure the fact that we can learn much more from China and other developing countries.
“A life without dreams is a nightmare” (p. 118). I dream of developing world without School. I try to find out what our society needs to do for young people. And then how we can be creative in building new institutions that fulfil those needs. Come join me!