4D Star

After endlessly retreading the ideologies that failed in the 20th century, we finally have a new strategic model to navigate complex challenges.

Should one trust any philosophy that does not put “human” as its central focus?  Of what use is that theoretical recognition of priority, without enthusiastic loyalty to oneself and others?  And then, should we not organize ourselves in view of serving humanity, as well as innovate, while harnessing the power of freely-expressed preferences and contributions? Finally, must not we look to the future to ensure sustainability, while also acknowledging enduring realities that shape circumstances?  In short, for the multidimensional problems of our era, can we not elaborate a suitable multidimensional paradigm to guide macro-level analysis and strategic decision-making? 

January 2024

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L’Europe

leurope.com

Summary

Executive Summary

The Four-Dimensional Star (4D Star) paradigm constitutes a comprehensive framework to facilitate macro-level holistic analysis and strategic decision-making, in view of shaping innovative and ethical organizations (and societies) that sustainably obtain positive outcomes, engaging committed stakeholders who are empowered with indicated freedoms to contribute to choices and improvements.

A visual representation of an Indo-European (Yamnaya) horseman approximately 5,000 years ago.

Problem

Human history and contemporary research have pointed to organizational best practices to achieve specific objectives, but this author is not aware of any satisfactory over-arching macro-level paradigm that incorporates the elements embraced by this model.


Contrasting with the author’s 4D framework, some models represent concepts as isolated dichotomies or one-dimensional continuums:


  • engaged vs. unengaged (employees),

  • safe vs. unsafe,

  • equitable vs. inequitable,

  • sustainable vs. unsustainable, etc.

A simple model may accurately represent one aspect of reality. Simple models can provide clarity and facilitate promptness and efficiency. Relevant data can be easier to measure and communicate (Mallikarjun, 2021).


However, reliance on a basket of simple models – without an over-arching paradigm to organize information – can lead to catastrophic outcomes when the relationships within the macro-level context are not adequately conceptualized or communicated.


While a macro-level paradigm inherently presents more complexity than a simple model, it can nevertheless simplify analysis and decision making. Heretofore, without 4D Star, these have often led to conflict between stakeholders, who advocate for elements in isolation – based on subjective values and experiences – without sufficient acknowledgement that competing priorities frequently connect at the macro-level.


Sorting through already-complex challenges with the addition of individuals’ emotions – unfettered by a guiding macro-level paradigm – together with concomitant rivalries and group affiliations, substantially adds to the complexity of identifying and implementing solutions. Simplification of tasks has long been recognized as a primary means of helping to avoid errors (Leveson, 1995). A macro-level paradigm that enables stakeholders to identify how priorities intersect can promote simplification and facilitate strategic planning.

One needs to be ever-mindful of important variables that may be excluded from simple models (Chowdhury and Turin, 2020). Thus, although a macro-level paradigm may be rarely directly engaged for day-to-day tasks, stakeholders should at least be familiar with the 4D Star model to organize conceptually the strategic implications of the links described below.

A macro-level model with predictive power can facilitate organized action, promote efficiency, enhance communication and teamwork, clarify needed benchmarks and metrics, more fully integrate and engage research findings, enrich education, disseminate insight, strengthen analysis of historical anecdotes, and lend credibility to proposed reforms.
2D Level
Five “foundations” corresponding to the five points of the flat vertical face of the 3D star:

  • Human

  • Freedom

  • Loyalty (with élan)

  • Innovation

  • Organization

Note: The author sometimes uses “commitment” or “enthusiastic loyalty” interchangeably with “Loyalty with élan.”

Ring of Harmony — Surrounding the five points of the star, the Ring represents Communication and Emotional Connectivity.  Concomitantly, it also symbolizes the synergy, interactivity, and interdependence of the Five Foundations.  These dual aspects of the Ring dovetail, because Communication and Emotional Connectivity help link together the Five Foundations.

The 2D Level elements (Five Foundations + Ring of Harmony) holistically embody a way of life that gives people and groups a competitive advantage.  The powerful synergy of the forces represented by the 2D Level has likely been a feature of Homo sapiens for over 100,000 years, although with highly uneven distribution and application.

The 2D Level elements are partially-extrinsic Systemic Enablers that extend functionality of innate human abilities.  

3D Level

Sustainability Through Time.  Representing much more than ecological or financial issues, this encompasses factors such as the solidarity and health of the population, maintenance of infrastructure, and the strength of allies.

4D Level

Enduring Realities. Corresponding to long-term phenomena present in the Universe, this includes demographic and geographic facts, scientific knowledge especially insofar as it relates to human activities, and historical patterns.

Sample Insights
Each of the foundations shares crucial links with all the others.  A weakening or strengthening in one foundation dynamically impacts the other elements and impinges on sustainability.

The foundations for successful organizations also apply for prosperous and harmonious societies; this highlights that  organizations and societies should dovetail with and elevate each other.

None of the foundations for organizational success apply only to “customers” or “employees,” nor merely to either “managers” or “staff,” which further illustrates the inter-connectedness of stakeholderss.
Dystopian Antithesis: "Malevolent Star"
The author has also outlined a “Malevolent Star” model to describe how a dictatorial organization or society can endure with a certain sustainability — not by empowering and supporting the needs of people, but by serving the whims of a dictator (or junta), engaging fear / terror and oppression-based obedience.

  • The “Human” foundation is replaced by “Regime,” since human needs and empowerment are subordinated to the power-hunger of the regime.

  • “Freedom” is supplanted by “Oppression” since generally only regime representatives are empowered to make choices – and terror is engaged to suppress freedom. Physical and societal features are also used to repress liberty.

  • “Commitment” is swapped out with “Obedience,” since true loyalty cannot exist as a response to terror.

  • “Innovation” is replaced by “Stagnation,” since only regime-approved research and modifications exist. Isolated improvements, such as technological advances, (frequently related to technological theft), are not excluded.

  • “Organization” is supplanted by “Segmentation,” an over-arching theme throughout the system.  The dictator uses factions and inefficient, duplicative, rival structures to handicap any emerging centers of power. Different sets of norms apply to officials and subjects. Even within minds, distinct cognitive areas appear, to process inconsistencies between morality and obedience. Social groups and economic classes are encouraged to hold suspicions and resentments, to clear a path for further regime power acquisition. Indeed, this segmentation, pervasive throughout all aspects of society, reflects the system’s fundamental departure from harmony. It contrasts sharply with the natural congruence of 4D Star and its complimentary elements.

Malevolent Star regimes try to pass themselves off as 4D Star-type systems, to attempt to generate enthusiastic obedience. The author has written a separate introductory essay to explore Malevolent Star in more depth.

Disclaimer

The author developed the 4D Star paradigm through synthesis during study of thousands of historical anecdotes and studies, each of which demonstrates relationships between elements described below.

No single experimental study could possibly demonstrate the validity of such a macro-level paradigm.

If the model has credibility, it resides in its ability to out-perform any other existing macro-level paradigm, in terms of predictive power and ability convincingly to explain the successes and failures of historical organizations (and societies), in its internal consistency, and in logical synthesis of already-recognized relationships and best practices.

2D Level

Systemic Enablers

The Five Foundations and the Ring of Harmony can all be understood as Systemic Enablers that extend human functionality and form a synergistic ecosystem.  Freedom facilitates the natural human propensity to flourish (individually and collectively) with autonomy. Loyalty empowers the inclination to serve and to contribute in a sustained way, as well as the inborn yearning for a sense of purpose. Innovation catalyzes the potential for creativity and discovery. Organization engages the predisposition to collaborate and to manifest talent. The Ring of Harmony enlists the human potential to exchange information and to bond with other people.  Human enables the capacity for self-realization and the expression of values and passions.

Indeed, in the terms of the functionality of the 2D Level of the 4D Star paradigm, the Human foundation itself can be understood to function as a partially-extrinsic Systemic Enabler that extends human functionality.  It allows for human traits and sub-elements to take form and express themselves in the external world.  For example, consider a teacher considered in her professional role.  Formal education starts with the learner’s internal cognitive ability.  Then pedagogy acts upon that inherent capability with the externality of a skilled and committed educator (Human and Loyalty foundations), structured content and evidence-based methods (Organization & Innovation foundations), emotionally-supportive communication (Ring of Harmony), while providing for liberty to question and explore (Freedom foundation). Thus, while education might begin and end with the Human foundation, it involves the totality of 4D Star. 

A similar example would be a trained nurse (Human foundation) administering an evidence-based herbal remedy or medication (Innovation) to enhance a person’s innate immune system, thus functioning as a systemic enabler in terms of health, a sub-element (need) in the Human foundation.  The Human foundation also functions as a Systemic Enabler for the nurse herself, enabling her capacity for self-realization.  This example also involves all the foundations, since it entails loyalty (e.g., the nurse’s commitment to the patient and the patient’s loyalty to himself), organization (e.g., an efficient hospital), and freedom (e.g., the patient’s right to choose or refuse treatments).

The external extensions of the Systemic Enablers involve many different spheres of activity, e.g., social, procedural, organizational, legal, and technical.  For example, in terms of the exogenous aspects of Freedom, it involves society’s attitudes about liberty, the legal frameworks that protect individual rights and freedoms, the implementation of policies that ensure equal access to opportunities, and the technological infrastructures that allow for the free flow of information and ideas.

In terms of the Human foundation as a Systemic Enabler, its extrinsic extension is mediated through the individual or groups that give form to inherent abilities, needs, and dignity and interact with the external world.

The Systemic Enablers that compose the foundations and the Ring of Harmony have more extrinsicality than the inherent dignity, needs, or traits that represent sub-elements of the Human foundation. For example, creativity, diversity, spirituality, and resilience are sub-elements of the “Human” foundation, as opposed to being foundations in their own right, because they are core human traits. The Human foundation is paramount — it is the First Foundation  so its sub-elements have links to all the other 2D Level elements. 

If a human trait is classified as a sub-element of the Human foundation, as opposed to being a top-level “foundation” in its own right, this does not denote a diminution of importance; rather, it merely reflects that Human sub-elements are fundamental to the human condition.  By contrast, Systemic Enablers — although they also have some degree of intrinsicality and reflect needs — have relatively greater extrinsicality because they inherently relate directly to exogenous conditions. 

Well-developed systemic enablers, including competent and cultured people, form a harmonious and synergistic ecosystem.    

Human

This foundation encompasses both human dignity and human capital.


In a free society, the human element is central to both the inputs and outputs of any organization, since ultimately organizations’ services and products are meant to serve humans — directly or indirectly.


Simultaneously, of course, organizations rely on employees (human capital). Ideally, they are loyal to themselves and to their society, and are motivated to identify innovations to meet and anticipate customers’ needs.


Thus, the needs and empowerment of humans are fundamental to organizations’ delivery of goods and services.


Aside from the “Malevolent Star” model outlined above, there hardly exists any alternative to putting humanity at the center of organizational focus. Paraphrasing John Stuart Mill, if pursuing human happiness (as conceived not only quantitatively but also qualitatively) is the only choice, one hardly needs to wrestle with that choice (1863).


If societies and individuals always prioritize differently the sub-elements under this “Human” rubric, that subjectivity does not undermine 4D Star’s validity; on the contrary, it underlines the flexibility of the paradigm and aligns with the “individuality” and “culture” sub-elements of this same foundation.

Examples of sub-elements of “Human” overlap with Maslow’s hierarchy, but embrace a wider view of human needs:  

  • family,

  • safety,

  • security & defense,

  • basic physiological needs,

  • education & intellectual life,

  • spirituality,

  • individuality,

  • healthcare,

  • culture & art,

  • sense of purpose,

  • enjoyment of nature,

  • work,

  • property,

  • self-improvement & professional development,

  • hope,

  • community & belonging,

  • justice,

  • societal order & cleanliness,

  • fair and respectful treatment,

  • play & entertainment,

  • sport,

  • civic engagement,

  • individual achievement,

  • collective achievement,

  • romance & reproduction,

  • and exercise & mobility.

If an organization or society focuses excessively on only one or two of these sub-elements — or if priorities diverge completely from these needs — human dignity and human empowerment become endangered.

Organizations largely motivate employees through two routes that relate both to this “Human” foundation and to the “Commitment” foundation:

  • Firstly, engaging employees’ loyalty to themselves and to their families, organizations provide staff with resources such as pay and insurance. Concurrently, organizations should recognize the totality of employees’ human dignity, ensuring for example the safeguarding of their safety, individuality, respectful treatment, and opportunities for professional development.

  • Secondly, leveraging employees’ fidelity to their fellow citizens, organizations offer opportunities to serve, in a context of innovation in which stakeholders feel free to contribute to service-delivery choices and organizational improvements. Research demonstrates that corporate responsibility enhances employee engagement, at least in the context of authenticity, or “being able to show one’s whole self at work,” and when it does not involve extra tasks (Glavas, 2016).
Freedom
Engaging this foundational element, successful organizations skillfully exploit opportunities to harness the collective intelligence of stakeholders, including both employees and customers.

Historical and contemporary experiences clearly demonstrate that any system that does not entail harnessing the power of freedom also does not advance human dignity and empowerment. In other words, based on well-established inference, “Freedom” represents a necessary corollary of the “Human” foundation.

To develop the elements of their individuality — a key aspect of human dignity — individuals require freedom. Thus, every sub-element enumerated in the “Human” foundation section is linked to freedom.

Likewise, copious research and historical examples demonstrate the close links between freedom and the three foundations described below.

As organizations seek to navigate complex, changing conditions, in view of optimally serving the population, they require adaptability and creativity that can only exist in the context of freedom.

Organizations should encourage employees to feel empowered and free to engage expertise, judgment, and initiative — consistent with their abilities — to resolve problems and contribute to improvements, while also encouraging other stakeholders to make informed choices and contributions, as indicated.

At the level of the customer, organizations can only hope to meet that individual’s specific needs by empowering him with freedoms to determine service-related options.

Employees respond favorably to organizations that empower them to make appropriate decisions and to offer improvements; this fosters loyalty and an enthusiastic sense of workplace ownership (McKinsey, 2020)
Employees are free to choose their profession and place of employment, while customers select where to obtain products and services. Collectively, these choices create market forces that minimize misallocation and inefficiency, helping to ensure products and services remain accessible and relevant (Restuccia & Rogerson, 2017).

Even when choices may be limited, e.g., in the case of structural limitations or government services, citizens still engage their civil liberties to help ensure accessible and relevant services.

Successful organizations recognize that stakeholder freedoms do not reflect a “one and done” consent, but rather a continuous process of informed decisions (Goldstein, 2008). For example, in healthcare, a patient may agree to some therapeutic recommendations while declining others. A software user might install an app but disable some of its features.

Cognitive convergence does not necessarily entail constructive behaviors or lead to positive outcomes. Homogenized, unidirectional mindsets, reminiscent of ovine behavior, have contributed to catastrophic outcomes throughout history and up to the current day. Only with determination to engage free thought and individuality can this unhelpful phenomenon be averted or at least minimized.
Loyalty with élan
Loyalty with élan (vigorous spirit and enthusiasm) ignites our passion and anchors our commitment as we serve human dignity, in a context of trust and a sense of shared destiny. Loyalty entails attachment to Innovation, in view of uplifting human conditions, while ensuring that innovations remain grounded in ethics.

For many reasons, loyalty cannot exist without freedom, just as freedom cannot exist without loyalty. The combination of the two is the only arrangement that makes sense. For one thing, fealty in the absence of freedom is the Obedience of the slave; it is not Loyalty. Loyalty defends freedom more doggedly and courageously than obedience stands for oppression. Loyalty is what drives us to learn from the choices — the flowering of individuality and of culture — that people make when using their Freedom, in view of serving others and ourselves in a suitable fashion.

Likewise, Loyalty’s link to the Human foundation (ethics) is what creates the harmonious context in which Freedom can thrive. The three are inseparable and can only be understood in the context of the synergy of the 2D Level of 4D Star.

Loyalty with élan cements the determination that enables resilience in the face of adversity. It also ensures a focus on future generations and thus ties directly to the 3D Level, Sustainability Through Time, discussed below. Fully formed, loyalty relates to all the social levels of an individual’s life:

  • to oneself and to one’s personal and moral development,

  • to one’s family,

  • to one’s neighborhood or community,

  • to the polity arranging for mutual defense in a context of freedom, (e.g., the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. government),

  • and to humanity in general.

Thus, an organization can earn the enthusiastic engagement of loyal staff and customers only if its activities are consistent with their aims. As noted above in the “Human” foundation section, research shows that individuals can feel greater commitment to an organization when it advances humanistic aims, especially if the organization upholds the employee’s own dignity. Clearly, an enthusiastic employee will more readily seek opportunities to improve products or services and the organization itself. Likewise, an authentic and compelling “brand story” can promote customer loyalty (Barrett, 2023). Thus, there exists a possibility to foster a virtuous circle.

Making important decisions in the context of true loyalty requires rational analysis or evidence, not merely reference to what feels good or seems right — nor simply repeating what was done in the past. Thus — although at first glance the connection may not appear obvious — “Commitment” has an inseparable link to the “Innovation” foundation described below. Morality-based loyalty is explicitly not a personality-cult nor blind loyalty without reference to human dignity, the rule of law, or freedom.
Organization
“Organization” encompasses sub-elements related to how a corporate entity, a state entity, or a society organizes itself to meet and anticipate customers’ needs and expectations in an ethical, innovative, and sustainable manner, while promoting stakeholders’ commitment and engaging freedom-related enhancements:

  • professional roles and administrative structures;

  • deployment of physical resources, buildings, and equipment;

  • processes & procedures;

  • and corporate culture, i.e., the cognitive habits & attitudes promoted by the entity.

Directly or indirectly, an entity in a free society responds to one or more sub-elements from the “Human” foundation, while harnessing human capital to help deliver goods or services.

Thus, because entities and societies rely on human “inputs” while responding to human needs, both human dignity and human empowerment represent key strategic priorities.

As described above, successful entities understand and harness freedom, engaging the collective intelligence of all stakeholders. They study people’s preferences, whether expressed directly via feedback or indirectly via market forces. They respond to the exercise of civil liberties and seek to ensure that their activities dovetail with the aspirations of society.

Successful organizations should strive to implement evidence-based best practices (see “Innovation” foundation section, below), in the context of stakeholders who are committed to improving outcomes related to the “human” foundation section, and who feel free to engage their full potential. For example, for several decades researchers have been identifying characteristics of high reliability organizations (HROs), which include:

  • sensitivity to operations,
  • reluctance to simplify,
  • preoccupation with failure,
  • deference to expertise,
  • and practicing resilience (VA/HSR&D Evidence Synthesis Program, 2019).

A successful entity uses different strategies in different contexts to deliver the best results. For instance, a government might use democratic elections and peaceful transitions of power to help ensure that state structures remain focused on the needs of the people. However, when it comes to organizing a specific agency, skilled and experienced experts make decisions, even as they remain accountable to elected officials and ultimately to voters.

In addition to the mechanisms and strategies outlined above, the “Organization” foundation within the 4D Star paradigm emphasizes the critical role of adaptability and systemic feedback loops in ensuring organizational effectiveness and sustainability. Adaptability, informed by ongoing assessment and responsive adjustment to both internal and external changes, allows organizations to remain agile in a rapidly evolving landscape. The Freedom to be flexible, and being unattached to rigid dogmas or unyielding methods, is key. Adaptability thrives in the context of highly-qualified staff (Human foundation), an environment where workers and customers are empowered to provide feedback and to express preferences (inherently involving the Freedom foundation and Communication [Ring of Harmony]), and when Loyalty with élan equips stakeholders with the long-term commitment to overcome obstacles and stay focused on shared values. Part of the Organization foundation is fostering intentional cognitive frameworks that actively seek Innovation, harnessing Freedom, in the context of Loyalty to Human needs and development.

Systemic feedback loops, integral to the Organization foundation, facilitate continuous learning and improvement by actively soliciting and incorporating input from all levels of the organization and its external environment through an iterative process (Viswanath, Synowiec, & Agha, 2019). This approach not only enhances the organization’s resilience and capacity for Innovation but also strengthens its alignment with the dynamic needs and values of the Human foundation. By cultivating an organizational culture that prioritizes adaptability and values feedback, entities can more effectively navigate the complexities of modern challenges — e.g., digital transformation, inter-cultural harmony, and climate change — helping to ensure that structures and processes remain both efficient and ethically-grounded in the pursuit of serving Human needs and aspirations.  

The Organization Foundation serves as a critical nexus, connecting and enhancing the synergy among all other foundations and the Ring of Harmony. It constitutes a partially-extrinsic Systemic Enabler that extends human functionality by engaging inherent human propensities to collaborate and manifest talent.  By structuring professional roles, resources, and procedures, the Organization foundation enables the effective mobilization of human capital, thus directly supporting the “Human” foundation’s emphasis on empowerment and the dignity of work. Through its alignment with “Innovation,” it helps to ensure that structures, products, services, and deployment of resources all remain adaptable and forward-thinking. The foundation’s links to “Freedom” and “Loyalty” encourage a culture of participation and dedication. The Organization foundation, in concert with the Ring of Harmony, facilitates seamless communication and emotional connectivity, enhancing solidarity and helping to ensure that organizational goals are in harmony with people’s preferences, values, and aspirations. This interconnectedness underscores the paradigm’s holistic approach, where each foundation amplifies the others, creating a synergistic ecosystem geared for sustainable and ethical progress

4D Star: A new macro-level strategic framework to guide society toward happiness
Innovation

The “Innovation” foundation within the 4D Star paradigm represents a crucial systemic enabler that extends the intrinsic human quality of creativity and ingenuity.  With intentionality, and engaging strengths from the other 2D Level elements (organization, freedom, loyalty, communication, and emotional connectivity) it seeks ultimately to serve the “Human” foundation and to respond to its needs.  Sometimes this is direct, while at other times it is focused on building up the other 2D Level elements.  Innovation largely depends on well-developed Human capital with good education and health. Innovation encompasses a broad consideration of the challenges of Time, as represented by the 3D Level (Sustainability Through Time), in view of developing resiliency.  It is oriented toward anticipating opportunities and adapting to changing conditions.

  • Improvement: Innovation involves the continuous improvement of processes, products, and services, aiming to enhance outcomes such as profitability or environmental enhancements. It seeks not only to refine existing systems but also to revolutionize them in ways that contribute to overall societal well-being.

  • Planning: As part of strategic planning, Innovation incorporates foresight to prepare for future challenges. It involves anticipating shifts in technology, society, and the environment, ensuring that strategies remain robust, flexible, and sustainable over time.

  • Discovery: At the heart of Innovation is the discovery process, which involves attaining knowledge about nature, including human behaviors, interactions, and preferences. The human-centric aspect of discovery is vital for developing solutions that better serve the “Human” foundation and its sub-elements, enhancing the quality of life and societal cohesion.

  • Adaptation to Changing Conditions: Innovation is inherently about adapting to and capitalizing on changing conditions. It permits organizations and societies to navigate uncertainties and to leverage opportunities presented by shifts in the external environment.
Innovation enhances how the Organization foundation:

  • Becomes more adaptive and efficient, ensuring organizations are capable of responding swiftly to new information or changes in their operational environment.

  • Increases its connectivity with freedom-related enhancements and loyalty-related advantages, fostering an organizational culture that values input from all stakeholders.

  • Strengthens communication and emotional connectivity, enhancing the ability of organizations to function as cohesive, empathetic entities.
Innovation and Adaptability

  • Proactive Change Management: Innovation thrives when values (Human foundation) and systematized cognitive patters (Organization foundation) resonate with a culture that is not only receptive to new ideas but also actively seeks them out. This involves continuously scanning the external environment for emerging trends, technologies, and challenges that might affect operations or strategic objectives.

  • Flexible Systems and Processes: Innovations aimed at ensuring that systems and processes remain flexible can help people and organizations to pivot quickly in response to new information or changing circumstances. This flexibility is achieved through the design of modular systems, agile methodologies, and the incorporation of feedback loops that enable continuous learning and adaptation.

  • Empowering Creative Problem-Solving: Innovation works best in the context of a mindset of creative problem-solving among individuals and teams. This mindset is crucial for adaptability, as it equips people with the cognitive tools to think laterally, envision novel solutions to complex problems, and experiment with new approaches that can better align with shifting realities.
Innovation and Resilience

  • Building Capacity for Recovery: Resilience is not just about withstanding shocks but also about the capacity for recovery and transformation in their aftermath. Innovation contributes to resilience by imaginatively harnessing failures as opportunities for learning and growth, thereby building a stronger foundation for future challenges.

  • Enhancing Systemic Robustness: Through the iterative improvement of products, services, and organizational structures, Innovation enhances the overall robustness of systems. By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, and by diversifying approaches and solutions, organizations can better absorb and adapt to external pressures.

  • Sustainability and Long-term Viability: Innovation’s role in promoting sustainability ensures that adaptability and resilience are not just about surviving immediate threats but also about thriving in the long term. By aligning strategies with sustainable practices and considering the impact on future generations, people and organizations can build a resilient foundation that withstands environmental, economic, and social fluctuations.
Innovation and the 3D Level : Sustainability Through Time

The relationship between Innovation and the 3D Level entails the forward-looking aspect of strategic planning, which is essential for preparing for Time-related challenges and opportunities.

Innovation acts as a catalyst for:

  • Anticipating Future Challenges: Thriving in a culture of creativity and adaptability, Innovation helps organizations and societies anticipate future challenges, including environmental changes, societal shifts, and technological advancements. This proactive stance is vital for crafting strategies that are resilient and sustainable over the long-term.

  • Promoting Sustainable Practices: Innovation directly contributes to the development and implementation of sustainable practices. This includes the creation of green technologies, sustainable business models, and practices that minimize environmental impact while maximizing resource efficiency. By doing so, Innovation helps to ensure that the pursuit of sustainability is not just an ideal but a practical reality embedded in operations and planning.

  • Enhancing Resilience: Innovation enhances resilience by designing diversifyied approaches to problem-solving and by envisioning flexible, responsive systems capable of adapting to changes over time. This resilience is crucial for sustaining societal and organizational functions in the face of unpredictable challenges.
Innovation and the 4D Level: Enduring Realities

Innovation’s connection with the 4D Level brings into focus the necessity of aligning new ideas and strategic initiatives with the fundamental and often immutable aspects of our world. This entails:

  • Aligning with Natural and Societal Constraints: Recognizing and respecting enduring realities such as geographic constraints, natural resource limitations, and deep-seated cultural values are essential for ensuring that proposed solutions are viable and effective. Innovation grounded in an understanding of these realities is more likely to lead to sustainable outcomes.

  • Leveraging Historical Insights: The 4D Level also encompasses historical patterns and lessons that can inform strategies. By analyzing how organizations and societies have adapted (or failed to adapt) to obstacles in the past, innovators can develop more informed, robust approaches to current and future challenges.

  • Studying the Universe: Innovation involves not only the development of solutions but also new methods of learning about the Universe and the past. The knowledge thus gained is essential to help humans learn about lessons, opportunities, and dangers. It also provides insight into ongoing trajectories and future prospects.

Innovation within the 4D Star paradigm constitutes a partially-extrinsic systemic enabler that expands human functionality. It leverages human creativity to advance technological, procedural, and service improvements, while also applying ingenuity to ensure that individual, cultural, and spiritual preferences are upheld, in recognition of the inherent value of diversity. Innovation relies upon Freedom, which enables people to offer suggestions and express their preferences. It stays linked to Loyalty, which helps to ensure that innovations stay Human-centric and consistent with morals. Innovation depends on effective Organization to deploy human talent, resources, and informational tools in an effective way. Innovators rely on the Ring of Harmony for informational exchanges and emotional encouragement. The Ring of Harmony also ensures that Innovators stay connected with the Human foundation, in terms of keeping values and preferences within view. Among other benefits, this helps to ensure cultural and cross-generational adaptability.

Ring of Harmony

In the two-dimensional level, the Ring of Harmony is a ring that surrounds the five points of the two-dimensional star.

It represents the synergy, interdependence, and interactivity of the Five Foundations.

It also stands for human communication and emotional connectivity.

In society, it represents the emotive bonds and flow of information between people.

Social ties and exchanges of information reinforce the links and natural consonance of the Five Foundations while enhancing resiliency and adaptability.

HUMAN – Many aspects of human needs and human development inherently depend on communication and emotional connectivity. Well-developed people; who are caring, insightful, and educated; are best positioned to reinforce the Ring.

FREEDOM – Liberty is a prerequisite for communication and many types of emotional expression. Communication alerts people to the Innovations that they might want to implement, as they use their freedom. Threats to freedom should be communicated, so loyal people can rally behind the organizations that will defend it. Emotional connectivity is inherent to multitudinous forms of individual and collective flowering in the context of liberty.

LOYALTY – People use emotional bonds and communication to receive and send signals of commitment, boosting trust and solidarity. When organizations alert stakeholders to a problem that affects humans, loyal people use their freedom to communicate about innovations to surmount the challenge.

INNOVATION – Communication is key to build on existing discoveries, to identify areas needing improvement or creative solutions, and to relate plans and advances back to organizations and individuals. Emotional ties help to support and guide researchers, planners, and scientists.

ORGANIZATION – Organizations rely on communication for internal processes and for exchanging data and views with external stakeholders. The human-centered innovations that loyal staff develop using their freedom could not be passed on without communication. Emotional ties are necessary to keep an organization fully engaged with its human-centric focus so that loyalty can be maintained, innovations can be responsibly managed, and the key role of freedom can be safeguarded and exploited.

Within the private life of the individual person, “communication” would largely denote the conscious mind, while “emotional connectivity” might refer more to receiving wisdom and feedback from the subconscious.

At the individual level, Organizing one’s activities and thoughts can be key to pursuing not only one’s own Human needs and development, but also fulfilling one’s broader Loyalties to collectives such as the family or society.

In this context, one can use Freedom to develop one’s individuality, and to respond Innovatively to challenges and opportunities that exist in the physical world.

Thus, the individual’s private life is guided by 4D Star, even as the universal framework also applies to his broader life in a family, in an organization, or in society.

3D Level

Sustainability Through Time
This dimension recognizes that organizations and societies must anticipate future challenges and opportunities, in view of maintaining the ability to deliver services and products in a manner consistent with the five foundations of the 2D level.

Sustainability through time encompasses an array of physical, social, and biological factors.

Examples of factors of sustainability:

  • Fiscal sustainability (revenue, profit, and debt)

  • Ecological sustainability

  • Maintenance of infrastructure, buildings, and equipment

  • Safeguarding of sealanes and elements necessary for the free exchange of goods and ideas

  • The independence and strength of foreign allies, partners, and customers

  • The relative strength of foreign enemies, competitors, and adversaries

  • Supply of necessary raw materials and strategic finished goods

  • Demographic sustainability (e.g., population health and adequate fertility)

  • Social sustainability (e.g., fostering patriotism and a sense of shared destiny)

  • Moral / spiritual sustainability (e.g., raising children with a sense of community responsibility and attachment to freedom)

  • Educational sustainability (maintaining human capital with professional skills and abilities to innovate & to function within a team)

4D Level

Enduring Realities

Background factors or “Enduring Realities” encompass the elements of reality that are permanent or long-term issues and are not likely to change significantly in the medium-term.  Understanding these factors is necessary to avoid misidentifications and misappropriation of resources.


Just as the 3D level (Sustainability through Time) situates the 2D foundations within the larger context of the passage of time, the 4D level places the previous dimensions within the larger frame of background reality — an essential element for understanding what could change, and what causes or solutions apply to specific issues.


Examples of enduring realities include:


  • Geographic position (neighboring regions, landlocked or coastal, tropical or temperate)

  • Literacy rate (A population with a 99% literacy rate will have many differences from one with a 60% literacy rate.)

  • Infrastructure (e.g., Do roads, railways, and seaports exist?  Hospitals?  Electricity?  Factories?)

  • Family attributes (e.g., Is alcoholism widespread?  What is the ratio of two-parent homes to single-parent homes?)

  • Deep-seated social challenges (e.g., Are there multi-generational hostilities between religious or ethnic groups?)

  • Natural resources (e.g., Oil-rich region with lumber and fertile plains, or vast deserts with few minerals?)

  • Economic structure (e.g., Is the local economy primarily industrial, agrarian, or service-based?)

  • Political structure (e.g., Strong tradition of and attachment to democracy?  Deep history of authoritarianism?)

  • Cultural norms (e.g., Education and STEM are highly valued?  Paying bribes to officials is generally considered normal?)

  • Demographic composition (e.g., What percentage of the population is under the age of 18? How many are recent immigrants or have limited skills in the local language?)

  • Fiscal issues (e.g., A region with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 200% will have different prospects than one with a large sovereign fund.)

The conditions cited in some of these examples might endure unchanged for centuries, while others could evolve over the course of decades.  In either case, stakeholders should be able to identify enduring realities and recognize how they impinge on the 2D Level and 3D Level.

Implications

Correcting Course
In Western societies and indeed throughout the world, people share a growing recognition that “something is not working.” A long period of intellectual stagnation has occurred, marked by the lame retreading of failed ideologies from the 20th century, with the recent disgraceful scandals at Harvard perfectly illustrating the problem.

Populations have largely moved away from traditional religions, both in terms of intensity and in terms of nominal identification. And as people have transitioned from agriculture, becoming more urbanized — transplants in city or suburban landscapes — they have lost attachment to any sense of community.

To exacerbate disorientation, political groups both on the left and the right have emphasized differences — related to nationality or demographic characteristics such as race and sexuality — using fear and resentment to consolidate a base of support. This may work efficiently as a short-term political strategy, but it fails in terms of offering any actual solutions to problems. Indeed, divisionist politics constitutes a crime against society — an attack on societal cohesion — inevitably leading to a weaking of the polity and a degradation in quality of life. Admittedly, sometimes this is the purpose, as some ideologies, such as communism or jihadism, seek first to destroy civilization before fighting over the ashes.

In this context, 4D Star brings moral clarity and creates the conditions for social consolidation and true spiritual and intellectual growth — however different societies and different individuals choose to interpret their specific development.
Next Steps

In the coming months, this author (L’Europe) will write articles analyzing the implications of 4D Star, in terms of understanding contemporary successes and failures, and elucidating historical episodes. 

Upcoming articles might address topics such as the 1917 revolution or how the Soviet regime implemented a “Malevolent Star” model.  Another possible topic would be right-wing personality cults — or the DEI / “Woke” ideology, which can be summarized as a simplistic 1D paradigm of “oppressor” vs. “oppressed” similar to communism, on which is it modeled.

Please help spread awareness about this timely strategic framework, which can do so much to provide insight and prevent catastrophes and totally avoidable societal ills.

The author’s email address can be found at the bottom of this page.  Let the author know your reactions.  Please share this information with your friends through mouth-to-ear communication, social media, or email & text. 

Insight is not spread spontaneously.  It takes moral and motivated individuals to vanquish ignorance!

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