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Next step: What can we do now?

1 February 2020

The Declaration of our Interdependence was posted here on January 1, for 2020 vision: to rebalance our societies across government, business, and community. What’s next? Action.

Since I published Rebalancing Society in 2015, one question has kept coming up:  “What can I do?” The answers are, in fact, all over the place, ranging from confronting outrageous behaviors to adopting B Corp status. So I began to make a list of them, adding a few that don’t exist but should, and now I have organized all this into a single table, as you can see below.

The Declaration of our Interdependence was posted here on January 1, for 2020 vision: to rebalance our societies across government, business, and community. What’s next? Action.

Since I published Rebalancing Society in 2015, one question has kept coming up:  “What can I do?” The answers are, in fact, all over the place, ranging from confronting outrageous behaviors to adopting B Corp status. So I began to make a list of them, adding a few that don’t exist but should, and now I have organized all this into a single table, as you can see below.

Beyond what I can do to restore balance is what we can do, in our communities, associations, businesses, governments, and all of these together. The answers are grouped in the table in this order, under three main forms of involvement: reframing our beliefs, in order to reverse what is wrong, and renew what can be made right.

Concerning our beliefs, for example if we believe that change must come from “the top”, then those of us not there will sit around waiting for it to happen. If we believe that the wealth of globalization will trickle down to everyone, then we will take what we get. If we believe that democracy is about swinging between the public controls of government on the  left and the private forces of markets on the right, then we will not see the role that communities in the plural sector must play in buttressing the power of the other two sectors. With beliefs like these reframed, we can see our way to constructive action, ranging from creating social enterprises not tethered to the stock market all the way to establishing a Peace Council to renew global government.

You can click on any dot in the table to see some of the possibilities, bearing in mind the following:

  • These answers focus on rebalancing society, with the ones I consider most important in bold face type. We must address climate change urgently, but my belief is that real headway on this will be made only when we bring our societies back toward balance. The disproportionate power of private sector interests is not only driving climate change—with its imperative of more production for more consumption with more waste and more warming—but also impeding efforts by ourselves and our governments to deal with it.
  • This table is not complete: it is a work-in-progress, meant to suggest possibilities for action. Accordingly, please think beyond what you find in these boxes. It is not spectacular creativity that changes the world so much as ordinary creativity, of which we are all capable. (Thus, please share your ideas here or on #ourinterdependence.)
  • All of the entries in the table are brief, and some may seem rather general. Bear with me: I just wanted to get down what I could, as a starting point. Many of the entries are linked to sites that explain them (a number in my earlier blogs).

Action is only the first step. We are getting more of it while the problems of imbalance get steadily worse. We can no longer afford to have action all over the place; it must be consolidated into a movement for global reformation. In other words, we shall have to get our collective act together. This will be the subject of the next blog.

Here is the table, to use and augment. Click on any dot to see these possibilities. You may have to expand the table to do so, and close one entry when you wish to see another.


© Henry Mintzberg 2020, adapted from Next Steps on The Declaration of our Interdependence.

 

The Declaration of our Interdependence

1 January 2020

How to restore balance in this lopsided world?

Encouraging is that so many concerned people are engaged in so many constructive activities—whether to restore social justice, reverse the change in climate and the decline in democracy, or build the social economy—and that so many more people are ready to go.

Missing, however, has been a guiding vision, a statement of purpose as a way forward—toward a consolidated movement for global reformation.

This is why a group of us developed this Declaration of our Interdependence. Please read it, and if you agree with it, sign it, and share it widely.

Let this be a happy new year—for 2020 vision.

The Declaration of our Interdependence

How to restore balance in this lopsided world?

Encouraging is that so many concerned people are engaged in so many constructive activities—whether to restore social justice, reverse the change in climate and the decline in democracy, or build the social economy—and that so many more people are ready to go.

Missing, however, has been a guiding vision, a statement of purpose as a way forward—toward a consolidated movement for global reformation.

This is why a group of us developed this Declaration of our Interdependence. Please read it, and if you agree with it, sign it, and share it widely.

Let this be a happy new year—for 2020 vision.

The Declaration of our Interdependence

Making Progress on our Puzzle

20 December 2019

After decades of addressing the issues of managing in organization—by taking a good look at the accepted wisdom, comparing it with the reality, and considering how best to go forward—I turned my attention to doing much the same thing in the wider world. A TWOG on 21 December 2017, entitled “Going Public with my Puzzle”, described my puzzle of how to restore balance in a lopsided world. In the two years since, we have been making considerable progress. The next TWOG will present one aspect of this, called “The Declaration of our Interdependence”. This TWOG adapts the earlier one as a lead-in to the next one.

I don’t like doing jig-saw puzzles and playing other games that come in a box. They Boggle my mind, Scrabble my brain, Monopolize my attention. I prefer puzzles beyond boxes, including that box called “thinking outside the box.”

After decades of addressing the issues of managing in organization—by taking a good look at the accepted wisdom, comparing it with the reality, and considering how best to go forward—I turned my attention to doing much the same thing in the wider world. A TWOG on 21 December 2017, entitled “Going Public with my Puzzle”, described my puzzle of how to restore balance in a lopsided world. In the two years since, we have been making considerable progress. The next TWOG will present one aspect of this, called “The Declaration of our Interdependence”. This TWOG adapts the earlier one as a lead-in to the next one.

I don’t like doing jig-saw puzzles and playing other games that come in a box. They Boggle my mind, Scrabble my brain, Monopolize my attention. I prefer puzzles beyond boxes, including that box called “thinking outside the box.”

A couple of years ago, I joined some family in Toronto for a game that I was supposed to love as soon as I figured it out. I never did figure it out, perhaps because I never cared to figure it out. I’m a word guy who hates word games in a box (although I love inventing words out of books, like TWOG).

On a table beside this game of ours sat a jig-saw puzzle, its pieces strewn about near the box that showed the picture to make. There and then it hit me. These games are too pat for me, too closed ended. Choose the proper words or move the proper pieces while respecting the proper rules to make the proper picture. I want to fly with ideas, not be grounded by rules.

(I took this photo of that table in Toronto.)

Compare these pat puzzles with puzzling puzzles. They are not about breaking the rules so much as creating new rules to get around old ones that don’t work. To do this, we have to be playful rather than pat, so that we can concoct solutions that seem to be outrageous until they become obvious.

In a Puzzling Puzzle:
1. The pieces are not supplied; some of them have to be found, others invented.
2. These pieces usually appear obscure, not clean-cut—more like fragments.
3. These fragments rarely connect neatly.
4. With no box in sight, the fragments have to create the picture.

(I took this photo of my worktable at home, exactly as I left it to puzzle over the original of this TWOG. Notice the fragments, loosely connected.)

Our profound puzzle    Pat solutions can no more resolve puzzling puzzles than can Monopoly develop entrepreneurs or chess train guerrilla fighters.

As I have discussed in various TWOGs and in a book, at the root of our most foreboding problems—climate change, income disparities, declining democracy, nuclear weapons in the hands of loose cannons—lies the imbalance that plagues our societies. Narrow economic forces, manifested in rampant individualism and unrestrained globalization, have been overwhelming our collective and communal needs. This is our profound puzzle, for which pat solutions, such as fixing capitalism, will not work.

This puzzle has been engaging my attention for many years. (And I thought that the managing of organizations is puzzling!) Recently I have come to the conclusion that what we need is global reformation—mass, non-violent change in our social behaviors. But how to get there?

As I have been probing around—by reading, meeting, testing, and tweeting—many fragments of a possible solution have come at me, left and right, in no particular order. A year ago, I felt it was time to connect these fragments. And so, in February, nine of us gathered at a workshop near Montreal, from which came (a) the draft of a map to see balance in society, (b) the outline of a table to help order the many ideas for action, and (c) the intention to write a declaration of interdependence, as a guide to reframe our thinking, for reformation..

Driving back to Montreal from the retreat, Jeremiah Lee, a consultant in Boston, and I read through the clauses of the American Declaration of Independence and began to draft other ones, sometimes using the wording of the original. A great many drafts later, the nine of us agreed that “The Declaration of our Interdependence” was ready to be posted, which will be done here, and on its own site, on the first of January—for 2020 vision.

© Henry Mintzberg 2019. The map and the table will be posted on the site of the declaration, and may be the subjects of later TWOGs.

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