Institutional Transformation

A Grand Strategy for Evolving a New World

Humanity has entered the most extraordinary transition in the evolution of our species. The outcome will be a new human—a new version of the species, genetically and in terms of capabilities.

This is not the first time that fundamental change has catapulted life into a dramatically different space. In fact, this shift, although the largest and fastest of all shifts (as far as we know), is only the latest in a long series of rapid, dramatic transitions that are a regular structural pattern in our understanding of how life has evolved on planet Earth.

Starting with single cellular life, there emerged multiple celled organisms, which were followed by vertebrates and then mammals. Primitive hominids gave way to early humans and then social, cultural and technological shifts produced organized agriculture, written language, cities and towns, and then movable type—which greatly accelerated and proliferated how ideas moved through the leading edge of development. Computers and the Internet are only the latest in this sequence of breakthroughs that is inexorably rocketing toward the full development of a ‘global brain.’

At the same time, cosmic cycles are converging to generate a confluence of charged energetic particles and magnetic waves coming from the center of our galaxy and our sun that are affecting all of life on the planet by activating previously dormant DNA sequences and producing new human capabilities. The whole mix is complicated by a number of other inputs, not the least of which is Earth’s rapidly collapsing magnetic field. These forces (and others) are driving climate change, the development of breakthrough technologies and extraordinary scientific discoveries, rapid social value shifts and the implosion of almost all of the present systems—economic, financial, energy, governmental, etc.—that support and enable the life that is so familiar to us all.

A prerequisite of this remarkable transition is a global mind shift. If people don’t see themselves differently, they’ll do the same things that they have always done and the change will become dystopian. No different outlook—no new world. On the other hand, many different sources say that a revolution in perspective will inevitably come—perhaps as the result of a catalytic event, or maybe it will transpire over a period of time. But, in any case, people will see themselves and each other in a different light.

The slow-motion, systemic collapse will open up a vacuum into which a new world can evolve. Many spiritual sources now say that the endpoint is clear and inevitable—the only question is how we get from here to there. It could be relatively smooth—or pretty rough. It’s up to us, they say. We’re playing the central roles in the emergence of a new human and a new world.

And that’s where evolution gets particularly interesting. Never before has the major organism involved in the many historic transitions—whether simple animals or human beings—understood what was happening to and around them or the role that they were playing in the whole epochal shift. In the past, all life surfed the wave into an unknown future, carried along by unseen and little understood forces and having slight, if any, idea about what was going on.

This time it is fundamentally different.

Humans have the technology, historical perspective and spiritually derived understanding of the whole process such that, for the first time, we have a central role in how this transition plays out. As individuals and groups, we will decide how this amazing new future evolves, and we will do so with knowledge and tools that have never existed before.

The mind shift must be converted into new ways of doing things. We live in a complicated world that will not automatically reconfigure itself to our liking just because we change our minds about things. There is a sequence of requirements—each component dependent upon previous ones—that must be put in place to effectively turn new perspectives into a new world.

Whatever we do, it’s also fair to assume that the new world that emerges will be… well, emergent. It will not be dictated by some top-down, blue-ribbon committee. The Internet will assure broad-based involvement. Therefore, however we approach this shift, we must utilize the Internet to generate global involvement and buy-in.


We make sense of things only by understanding context. Nothing stands by itself. Everything is connected to many other things. The whole system is very dynamic and constantly changing. Unprecedented change is intrinsically laced with deep uncertainty, so any attempt to make sense out of what is happening and where we are going provides a significant advantage. We are like explorers feeling our way through a very strange new land that no one has ever before seen—as if on another planet that has different physics and social systems.

Because no human has gone this way before, we must reach out and actively collect as much information as we can from many unconventional sources (that purport to know what we are experiencing) in order to stitch together a patchwork of perspectives that begin to give us an outline of what is looming on our horizon. There is a reason why the explorers of old enlisted the help of indigenous scouts. We must therefore cast a very wide net and operate with a permeability that allows light to come in from all directions, while understanding that everything we think we know is tentative at best and subject to rapid, dramatic change.

Augmented by detailed information from spiritual sources that appreciate a much bigger picture, this openness to new perspectives will allow us to rapidly and effectively morph from where we came from into what we can become. We will then be able to navigate the rapids ahead more effectively.


This shift is an unprecedented event and converting from how we all do some of the most basic things in life is immensely complicated. It’s one thing to know what needs to be done and quite another to understand how to do it. Never having pulled one of these transitions off before, we can’t call up our local global shift specialist and adapt his well-tested plan. We need to invent this. It calls for original and creative thought.

I’d suggest that we don’t just try to crowdsource the future world. There needs to be some coherent thinking that kicks off the evolution process and brings some particularly thoughtful and knowledgeable people together to build a simple model that can be the conversation starter for the larger project.

What we’re talking about here are ideas. You do not build a new world without some new concepts about the fundamentals of what drives and defines this new world. It is different from the past, after all, so there must be some coherent thinking about how it is different in terms of values, principles and perspectives. All of the images in the new tapestry we will build will be woven with threads of basic colors like interconnectivity, sustainability, responsibility, resilience, etc. Once these core informants are identified, then the intellectual scaffolding is in place. Upon this scaffolding, more specific aspects (e.g., energy, agriculture, healthcare, government, economy and education) can be explored and refined.

It all starts with ideas.


If you’re really going to do this, you’ll need a place where it happens. Ideas by themselves may be born in the shower, but they only live and flourish if they have a home where they are nourished. In this new world, there needs to be a physical place as well as a virtual one. Meeting personally with others to work on the issues will provide the efficiency and selectivity that face–to-face groups have always produced. But without very large, global involvement you won’t get global change; you need the Internet as well.

A global transition is a complex and specialized thing. By definition, every sector and discipline is involved; if the end product is going to work, all of the pieces must work together. They must be compatible and internally consistent. If you add to this the notion that all of the component parts are relatively (if not absolutely) new, then there clearly needs to be a dedicated group that is working to make sense of it all on a daily basis. That would also begin to generate some of the unique knowledge and skills that will necessarily be required for actively shaping a new global system of systems. There should be a dedicated location where ideas are spawned, tested and communicated.

But there must also be a dedicated and specialized location in cyberspace where anyone can come to participate in the new world design process. This needs to be an interesting and engaging place that is fun, entertaining and rewarding. It needs to be constantly moving and changing, morphing with the new ideas and tasks that will be required for the systemic puzzle pieces.

The Internet is the only place that will allow these ideas and concepts to scale. It is the only way to reach and engage all of humanity.


Great ideas that are not communicated are like humming a tune that no one else can hear. You may feel good about it, but no one else does. Spreading the word about all of these efforts is critical to any success in facilitating the transition.

Because this is fundamentally an emergent process, communications must be bidirectional. Feedback loops must constantly update and upgrade the deliberations. The process will necessarily be sophisticated and interesting, making it easy for individuals to stay informed and become players in the big game. Effective communications are the backbone of the larger network—the global system that needs to be built.


The world is not changed by individuals working alone. Effective communications produce community. As ideas are generated and distributed, like-minded individuals will cluster together, either physically or virtually, to support the underlying interests. In terms of a transition toward a new world, there will be nothing more structurally effective than a network of global communities, all working to develop and implement the fabric of the desired future. One could argue that this global community is our ultimate objective and is the only way that the new world—defined by characteristics such as cooperation and oneness—could ultimately emerge.

In this case, we must build physical as well as virtual communities. In the face of being surrounded by the large-scale erosion of the legacy support systems that have sustained us (more or less) for all of our lives, we must find the synergy of numbers by allying ourselves with like-minded friends. The potentially negative emotional effects of watching the familiar disappear will only be offset by individuals coming together to encourage, visualize and intend the emergence of the new world.

Both individuals and transition groups need to be connected in a global grid that is focused on our common objective. Many millions of individuals from all corners of the world are already actively engaged in some aspect of personal development and shaping a new world. Effectively linking them together would generate extraordinary power and influence. Connecting together physically located clusters of new-worlders in a larger, planetary network could provide the enabling framework for birthing the next era. This larger web would have significant economic and political influence in addition to the powerful individual support that it would provide and could ‘hold’ the image of the emerging new world while it is manifesting.


With all of the inefficiencies and pollution that we produce, it’s obvious that new tools will be required to enable the emergence of the new world. At the same time, humanity has never seen the level of discovery and invention that is happening now. Moreover, that trend is accelerating and there promises to be more and bigger capabilities layered upon each other as far as we can see into the future. Some things that are in the works—like over-unity energy, levitation and amazing new materials—clearly have the potential to reconfigure the essentials of how we live.

Focus and timing are two salient issues related to the technological explosion and the emergence of a new world. No matter whether it is energy, communications or agriculture, there will be extraordinary breakthroughs coming our way that have the potential to help catapult us into the new era. The question is, will the new tools mainly drive us toward the new world or help sustain and erode the old world?

We started this piece by positing the assumption that a prerequisite mind shift is in the works that will reorient the interests and incentives of a great number of humans in a new direction. That perspective shift will grow over time, ultimately dominating the social and cultural landscape. In the near-term though, our interest is in focusing new inventions and discoveries toward that new direction and reducing the likelihood that they will be used for destructive purposes. How do we nurture new capabilities in such a way that they tend to contribute to the evolutionary direction rather than detract from it?

As the transition evolves, some specialized skills will be required that engage with the technology development and commercialization process in such a way that also maintains a big-picture perspective of the ultimate direction of our evolution and objective. During the earlier years, the kinds of breakthroughs that have the most potential for good will likely be seen as existential threats to some of the largest established industries on the planet. This likelihood will need to be seriously considered in how the new capabilities are presented to the world. Insurgent strategies will need to be developed.

In time, the center of mass will swing to the side of the new thinking and new inventions will naturally become more in line with the general societal interests and perspectives.

Key capabilities, like strong artificial intelligence, must be captured or focused early as the potential for destruction and control is almost unlimited if they are used for traditional control-oriented applications.


None of this works without funding. An initiative of this magnitude will require significant resources, so a world-class funding strategy will need to be identified and launched. In the end, the fuel for the process will necessarily come from many different sources in varying amounts and from all parts of the world. Perhaps there will be local and regional funding sources that support small-scale initiatives and larger chunks will get the big pieces going. In any case, this is as big a project as they come and a significant amount of money will be required.

Permeability and Foresight

I mentioned earlier the importance of being open to new ideas. The strategic approach detailed here is necessarily based upon what makes sense to us now. It assumes dynamics and principles that we currently understand to work the way that they do. But we are heading toward a world that will not operate in a way that is familiar to us—it’s a new world. It almost certainly isn’t compatible with the giant load of presumptions that we carry around with us: how money works, how families are organized, the role of government, the ability to keep secrets, the need for food, the isolation of the planet, the availability and cost of energy, the inevitability of sickness, etc.

If the messages that we are receiving from other dimensional sources are correct, this new world will be as different from the present as vertebrates were from multi-celled organisms, where there were some elements of commonality but major defining life forms could never have been anticipated from the vantage of the previous era. Some define this evolutionary process as being built around holons—elements that include and transcend. That makes sense because there must be some familiarity that guides us toward the new world even though the whole process and objective is intrinsically new and strange.

And that’s our problem: we must move ahead, limited by the current knowledge we have but knowing that there is a very high probability that game-changing events and capabilities will likely reconfigure the playing field and the rules during the process.

All of this argues for extraordinary openness—a permeability—to new ideas and developing a foresight process and capability that sweeps the horizon looking for the early indicators that will presage the wild card events headed our way. If we don’t have some way to anticipate the possible incoming shocks to the system (whether positive or negative), then everything of significance will turn out to be a surprise—and that would make our options reactive rather than proactive and far less effective.

If you’ve made it to the end of this article, it’s almost certain that you have a role to play in evolving this new world. It’s almost also certain that some aspects of this grand strategy will begin to emerge in the coming months and years and will provide concrete vehicles for your efforts. Isn’t it interesting how the Universe seems to provide the capabilities that are needed just in time for the evolutionary push?

John L. Petersen is a futurist and strategist. Author of three books on anticipating futures, he founded and leads The Arlington Institute located in West Virginia near Washington, DC, and edits and publishes the acclaimed free e-newsletter, FUTUREdition. He and The Arlington Institute are actively involved in executing this grand strategy. He can be reached at