Abstract for:Virtual worlds may be the key to resilience and sustainability via large scale culture change
Hypothesis: Lack of authentic experience of system behavior leads to defensive behaviors and sub-optimization, and works against longer term sustainability and resilience. Use of virtual worlds can expand mental complexity, enabling an organization to adapt and survive when external shocks and disruptions occur.
An example is given of a refinery that adapted ways of working to avoid closure when under threat when refining margins were low. A very simple system dynamics model based virtual world enabled new frame and action repertoires, expansion of 'mental complexity' and survival of the business. Lessons from this story may be important when looking to the future as the energy transition occurs, with the need to adapt towards lower carbon energy supply.
Looking to the challeges of our time (climate change, trade wars & Brexit, energy transition, etc) it may be necessary for many new virtual worlds to be created and for millions of people to gain mental complexity via authentic experience of system behaviors, to alter habits and patterns of action. Without the use of such virtual worlds, it may not be possible to achieve the needed culture change.