ALL local communities are faced with the need to prepare themselves for a constantly changing, interconnected and increasingly complex society. This article emphasizes the needs to develop “webs of learners” throughout any community who have the capacity to understand the impact of trends of the future and who work in parallel to community strategic planning.
Without developing new “capacities for transformation,” communities will continue to try to improve existing ways. It is important to be aware that incremental change and the old ways of doing things no longer work. Because existing schools and universities are often wedded to old forms and traditional concepts of thinking and power, improving what exists may well be counterproductive because people are allowed to avoid deeper causes and issues.
This gives a wonderful opportunity for local citizens to build networks of “21st century learners” who are willing to explore new ideas and innovative ways of preparing for the future. In this series of short articles I offer suggestions of how citizen leaders can introduce the concept of “building capacities for transformation” into the thinking and activities of local communities:
Identifying the Need for Transformation
Almost without exception, new ideas are resisted. One local leader was overheard to say, “Why do we need to look at the future, we can’t even deal with the present.” Although there is some truth in this statement, it also reflects a lack of understanding that we are in the midst of change that is increasingly complex, interdependent, threatening, uncertain and faster. In a fast paced society, we will have to deal with the present and prepare for the future at the same time using parallel processes. Without an ability to understand the trends of the future and their impact on existing issues and future challenges, one will not see the need for major transformation of how we think and act in a constantly changing society.
Until an individual sees the need for change, no true change can occur because of the struggle and commitment that is necessary. In addition, until a community environment allows people to be open to new ideas, there is no safe haven for thinking differently. Finally, until local communities begin to see value in talking about ideas, there will be resistance to real change.
The impact of economic crisis, the increase in population and the connections due to real time communications, are changing the very essence of our institutions and how they are structured. No longer fixed and rigid with standardize rules, a pattern of dynamic and constantly changing connections require a change in our human consciousness and a change in:
- How we understand the world
- How we relate to each other
- How we think
- How we educate and learn
- How we lead
- How we govern
- How we find deeper meaning and purpose
- How we promote and maintain health
- How we relate to the planet and to Nature
- How we understand and work within a global economy in crisis
If we use old ways of thinking, old ways of acting and old ways of organizing our strategies, we will not be ready for the present or the future. Unless we begin to search for new ideas, methods and techniques we will find we cannot move fast enough, be trustful enough of each other, have enough different solutions available or understand the realities of constantly changing situations.
We are entering an age where there are no standard models because there is constant change. New principles of thinking and new structures of organization will emerge as internally generated community research and development creates new experiments, new pilot concepts and new networks of collaboration.
As one begins the journey of helping local communities begin to think and act differently, we need to understand that there are several simultaneous efforts that will be necessary. All will need to be developed in parallel. All will be based on creating a positive environment that will help others see the need for change and come to the conclusion that transformation should occur.
In this series of short articles I hope to build your understanding of these concepts and then finally provide you and your fellow Process Leaders with a list of actions and processes that can be taken towards community transformation as an answer to imposed change. The first question is what are Capacities for Transformation? I will answer this in article two.
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