Yesterday’s post was partly inspired by my reading David Chandler’s 2014 book Resilience: The Governance of Complexity. My daughter recommended it and it has occupied me on a series of flights from Mumbai to San Deigo by way of Heathrow and Dallas. Both connections were fraught with time delays so I ended up without sufficient charge on the MacBook to clear email and read instead. No bad thing and I might institute a new rule for flights that involves reading rather than processing emails.
Now I always get nervous when people rush up to to me after a presentation and say something along the lines of that was brilliant its what I have been saying for years. My general experience of this statement is bad in that my own ideas are been suborned to support something that is clearly other. So the fact that my reaction on reading Chandler’s book was similar is making me cautious! That said the essence of his argument is what I started to say over sixteen years ago, namely that top down intervention to achieve a desired future state is not only undesirable it is a priori problematic at least, counter productive at worst.
He argues that in the context of regime change or peace and reconciliation we have moved through two stages and are entering a third:
His third point matches the approach I started to develop over sixteen years ago and which we can take on to an extra level of sophistication with SenseMaker®. By capturing the stories from local communities using the people themselves as agents of capture we see what patterns of possibility emerge that we can nudge with small safe-to-fail experiments to allow a sustainable and culturally relevant solution to emerge. Those will be local. Our notions of democracy in the UK are mediated by a history that starts with the De Montfort rebellion which first restricted the powers of the King which was further developed in the Commonwealth of Cromwell and then in the various 19th Century Reform Acts. The US builds on that in part as well but with the key difference of a formal declaration based on a specific political ideology which was dominant at the time. Those systems were a product of local interaction over time, not the imposition of a pre-determined model.
This is not only government it is also the way of all legitimate organisational change. Changing the constraints to allow the emergence of contextually appropriate practice within a locale. We can design an architecture (as long as we realise it is brown not green field approaches which are needed), but then within that architecture or constraint framework we need to allow sustainable patterns of local behaviour to emerge.
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