Prosperity on the Edge of the Abyss / Survival of the Most Adaptive
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Prosperity on the Edge of the Abyss / Survival of the Most Adaptive

Joshua Cooper Ramo framed the beginning of the 21st century as an ‘Age of Unthinkable’. Indeed, it is a time of unprecedented turbulence, which pressures all of us – large corporations and small businesses, nonprofits and individuals – to create new knowledge on emerging challenges and to adapt accordingly in order to survive and thrive. No one and nothing are too big to fail.

A most remarkable characteristic of the world we live in is its de-centralization and atomization. In the aftermath of World War II, the international environment was generally shaped by authoritative ‘addresses’ of states and international organizations that could ‘deliver’. The USA was a revered superpower and the decisions of the European Union, the World Bank and IMF carried significant weight. It was a relatively stable setting, where one could make sense of events, design scenarios and plan accordingly specific interventions in a so-called ‘rational’ manner. Nowadays, this description is increasingly irrelevant in an open system where so many players interact economically and politically, and where central stabilizing powers are declining.

In such a world, countries will rise and decline due to their ‘adaptive capacities’. They will be tested by their ability to make sense of the environment around them, to create new and relevant knowledge, and to design bold strategic interventions, which can then be scaled to become national policy, only to be tested and adapted again. It is an environment where many new opportunities for significant relationships, security and prosperity are clouded by uncertainty and instability, which lead to hesitation, and where the small, nimble and flexible have the advantage. This is as true in the area of national security as it is in the sphere of economic development. Thus, the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ should now be read as ‘survival of the most adaptable’.

Israel is no exception. It is at the frontier of this challenge of adaptation, because of the permanent adversity and exceptional volatility that it faces. Yet, its adaptive capacity is compromised by the structure of its own government, which has been experiencing a continued crisis in its capacity to govern that has been lingering for more than three decades. Hence, the nurturing of Israel’s adaptive capabilities must be a societal challenge, and not be left in the hands of its bureaucracy.

This is where the Reut Institute offers a unique value proposition to Israeli society. We specialize in creating new knowledge on emerging challenges, in working across society with multiple diverse partners, in strategic pioneering of new ideas and in transferring them to the government and to other players. We hold ourselves as agents and leaders of Israel’s adaptive capacity, and therefore serve its security and prosperity in this Age of Unthinkable.