Exploring the future potential of Scotland
December 5, 2013
This was first posted at the Art of Hosting Scotland
What kind of future do we want for Scotland?
Today has been a special day. This morning 50 strangers, more or less, came together to begin a journey of, the heart, the hand and the mind. Framed around the concept and methodology of Participatory Leadership this event hosted and held by an organization called The Art of Hosting.
It is special in how it brings people together and demonstrates a way in which people in organisations can affect real systems change. It is counter intuitive in that it is simple – designed around what makes us human and harnesses the better aspects of our humanity; goodness, trust, a desire to be better, harnessing our collective intelligence and, is inclusive of all that participate. But it is not how we traditionally would engage in thinking about systems of change. Normal management systems are command and control in their design where people are often treated no better than components that are fitted into a machine, and where machine efficiency overrules all other aspects of the design of the system. Participatory Leadership is about engaging us all at a human level.
A different culture of learning and leading: This is not first time for me in working in this way and it is also part of my own practice in working with people on transformational change. But I knew not everyone had experienced such an event. My excitement was to see people come into the process, and to see, and witness, how that affected them. Which it has already done, the conversations we collectively have had, I have had, already shows very clearly, that, creating context and meaning brings people together in ways no other system design can. This is simply achieved by empowering people, to respect them and give them back their dignity – the We recognizing the I and the I recognizing the We, and in so doing we create a community of purpose.
The empathy created out of listening deeply to other people’s stories, of their context results in profound human connection. So when we came together to work on issues related to best possible futures for Scotland space is naturally and respectfully made to listen openly without judgment or prejudice to a point of view that may not be your own. And we are a truly ragtag collection of people – Crofters, government, third sector, people of faith, finance, SMEs, the health service and education. These are but a few examples.
Make no mistake, this is not a happy clappy congregation of well meaning souls but, people driven, called, and intrigued by the possibility that we can do better, much better, and that
much better does not necessarily have to cost the earth, or, the well being of a single soul.
A design challenge: At this moment in time we all face what I call a design challenge of, not only what next looks like as we cannot afford the current model nor sustain it. But, how we get to what next looks like. It requires a leap of the human imagination.
I have never seen a problem of dreaming big, nor then thinking about how we practically apply that. But the dream has to be held by the many not the few. Today someone pointed out that there is a saying, which is a powerful form of social control, ‘that one should not get above oneself’ but then he said, but ‘actually we should’. And I agree.
- System Change Through People Power (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
- Six steps to transform the way we do business (The Guardian)
- Systems thinking in the public sector: The failure of the reform regime and a manifesto for a better way (Living Bibliography)
- What happens when organisations no longer fit reality?
- Participatory Leadership and transformational change in Scotland