Whether you call them wicked, complex, intractable, or just plain broken, our society is facing many tough issues. We can't sit back and hope for the best. It's up to us to work through the complexity and create thoughtful, sustainable solutions.

We are Kumu — a small startup and an ambitious community changing the world one connection at a time.

And this is our manifesto.

Shit's broken.

Health care, taxes, our financial and political systems — not only are they broken, many of our attempts to solve these problems have only made things worse. And that's just here in the US. Look to the developing world and you’ll find countries that still lack basic human rights and are plagued with disease, corruption, and violence.

Enough is enough!

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong. Thomas Sowell

We're all responsible.

Through the people we’ve elected, to the votes we never cast, to the ways we raise our children, spend our money, and even the daily gossip and events we give our attention to — we are all responsible.

Everything’s connected and every action or inaction influences the system in indirect ways we can hardly imagine.

Pointing fingers gets us nowhere. It’s time to change the way we approach these challenges and take responsibility for fixing the system.

The price of greatness is responsibility. Winston Churchill

All hope is not lost. Yet.

We can fix things by coming together and solving these issues as a community. We can start moving forward again by taking a holistic, cross-discipline approach involving the entire community — the problem solvers, the influencers, the artists, the young and the old, those in office and those on the streets. Our power to solve comes from the diversity of views we’re able to build from.

But you're going to have to take the lead. The guys in charge clearly aren’t going to fix things for us.

There is too much bad news to justify complacency. There is too much good news to justify despair. Donella Meadows
Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. Noam Chomsky

Complexity is killing us.

Complexity allows companies making billions of dollars in profits to pay lower tax rates than you do. Complexity allows your pension fund to invest in mortgages worth pennies on the dollar. Complexity allows governments to shut down over childish disagreements. Complexity is an excuse that allows us to say sorry, my hands are tied.


The problems we face are already complex. Adding complicated solutions and regulations on top of them only makes matters worse and gives us a false sense of progress.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. EF Schumacher
Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity. Thor Heyerdahl
They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. Ronald Reagan

More is not the answer.

We're obsessed with more. More growth. More productivity. More money. More laws. More homes. More lanes. More cars.

There's more to life than productivity and progress. It’s far too easy to be consumed by the daily pressures of more. We need to work smarter, not harder. We need the space to pause and reflect, to find the creative solutions to the problems in front of us.

More is the easy answer. And it's never sustainable.

What might less look like?

Is it possible to be happy with this life?
Did you enjoy your story?

Start with simple.

Complicated solutions have a tendency to waste money and only create more problems. Simple, thoughtful solutions that cut through complexity are the only way we’re going to move forward.

But simplicity doesn’t come easy. To get there, we first must embrace the complex world we live in to see through the chaos and develop simple, elegant solutions.

A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system. Gall’s Law
The more you step back and embrace complexity, the better chance you have of finding simple answers. Eric Berlow

Mistakes mean we're learning.

It's alright to make mistakes. Aim for progress, not perfection. Always be looking to learn, iterate and refine.

That said, small mistakes are better than big ones, and you’re best off avoiding people that make a lot of them.

Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not. CG Jung

Your fly is down.

(Guaranteed somebody out there owes us a beer.)

Honestly though — we’re bombarded by sad and serious issues. Remember to laugh loud and often. It'll keep you motivated, make you more attractive, and even help you live longer.


Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Victor Borge
Laughter is America's most important export. Walt Disney

Knowledge isn't enough.

Everyone knows how to quit smoking and lose weight, yet lung cancer and obesity remain epidemic. What gives?

Although knowledge makes things possible, knowing how to do something doesn’t get it done. Once we have the solution we need a steady source of incentives and inspiration to follow through with it.

Show them it's possible. Show them it's worth it. And you'll be well on your way to influencing lasting change.

Real solutions require sacrifice.

We can't keep rotating who's in charge and hoping this time is different. If we're serious about making progress, we need to fix the system itself.

That means starting over from scratch if the current system is too dysfunctional to be fixed.

That means supporting solutions we don't fully agree with, because the risk of doing nothing is far more dangerous.

That means giving up some benefits, possibly losing our jobs, or even watching whole industries disappear.

And that's all fine!

But we must account for these unintended consequences with a healthy support system to get people back on their feet. Doing nothing is far too costly.

One must be able to cut a knot, for everything cannot be untied. Henri Frederic Amiel

More explicit

Irrational behavior is a myth.

Each of us live within our own reality, shaped by the choices we’ve made and the events we’ve experienced from the day we were born.

Our decisions and behaviors are driven by incentives which come in many forms. Some are immediate while others are long-term. Some are selfish while others are selfless. Some are easy to spot while others are elusive. Calling a behavior “irrational” only means you’ve failed to fully understand the realities and incentives at hand.

Incentives are the only way we're going to make any progress. If we don't use them wisely they're doomed to come back and haunt us.

An incentive is a bullet, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation. Steven Levitt

Competition is healthy.

We can disagree and work independently while still striving to solve the same problem. Competition is fun, keeps us from getting lazy, and creates resilience through diversity and redundancy. The more paths to success the better chance of actually reaching it.

This belief is at the heart of why projects within Kumu are owned by individuals, instead of trying to build up a monolithic, agreed upon truth.

Differences in opinion are a gift — embrace them!

It is my conviction that if we joined together to localize on a global scale, we could bring about tremendous and lasting positive change. Helena Norberg-Hodge
What if design could be the opposite of conflict? Not by ignoring it, but by feeding off it. A way to incorporate and integrate differences & not through compromise or by choosing sides, but by tying conflicting interests into a Gordian knot of new ideas. Bjarke Ingles

Yes we can.

We know that change takes time — that the toughest issues can take decades to overcome.

In the end it’s about having the humility to know we don’t have all the answers, that we may not succeed in our efforts, but that we’re damn well going to try.

Together we’ll overcome this mess, but it won't be overnight and it sure as hell won't be easy.

Here's to the crazy ones.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

- Apple, 1997

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