The Values Stack

Most technology applications run on what’s called a “tech stack.” This phrase describes how technologies build on each other’s functionality. Here’s a sketch of a website’s tech stack, for example:

  • The Rules Layer: Expressions of beliefs through laws, rules, and norms
  • The Incentives Layer: What orients collective action around shared values and goals

The Values Stack has flipped

In recent history this isn’t how things have worked, however. Because of a shift in power, the Values Stack has functioned in reverse.

Two ways to change the Values Stack

The Bento Society’s approach isn’t to curb-stomp the status quo or tear everything down. It’s to build on it. History suggests that change is like improv — it’s “yes and.” We “yes and” on what’s already here.

#1 Redefining self-interest at the moral level

The Bento Society believes that people can be trusted to act according to their self-interest. But the Bento Society also believes that how we define self-interest is too narrow.

#2 New metrics at the rules and incentive levels

We’re a world ruled by metrics: stock prices, poll numbers, demographics, calories. Their importance will only increase.

The new Values Stack

Our current paradigm — Short-Term Individualistic Financial Fundamentalism (STIFF) — is in crisis. Calls for a new Values Stack are loud and getting louder. They’re coming from the left and the right.

Author of “This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World”; Cofounder of Kickstarter; Bentoist;

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